· Baron Motorsport takes victory; JR Motorsport passes Saalocin by KoxRacing for runners-up spot in closing stages.
· ID Racing loses 992 podium in closing moments.
· Commanding run for Les Deux Arbres in TG.
· AC Motorsport on top in TCR; bittersweet run for PCR Sport.
ABU DHABI (22 January, 2022) – Baron Motorsport has won the 2022 Hankook 6H ABU DHABI, an event that saw two podium positions change hands in the closing stages.
After securing pole position for the event earlier this morning, the Baron Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 (#86, Ernst Kirchmayr / Philipp Baron / Roman Ziemian / Axcil Jefferies / Mikkel Mac) held its advantage across the opening hour, despite the Austrian team being kept on its toes by the Lamborghini Huracán GT3s of LP Racing and Leipert Motorsport. A succession of rapid stints shortly after half-distance though saw the Ferrari gradually extend a lead it would rarely lose en-route to victory in Abu Dhabi, Axcil Jefferies even securing the fastest lap of the race – a 1m 53.172s – during his penultimate stint.
Baron Motorsport completed 166 laps of the 5.281km Yas Marina Circuit en-route to victory, with Jefferies collecting the chequered flag. The result comes just one week after the Zimbabwean driver secured his second successive win at the Hankook 24H DUBAI.
“I’m really proud of the guys,” Jefferies explained to radiolemans.com’s Lukas Gajewski. “[At half distance] we were leading quite comfortably, and all we had to do was bring the car home. There was a lot of fuel saving in the last stint – we couldn’t push at all! – but I’m very happy with this result.”
“It was massive fun!” team owner Philipp Baron continued. “We enjoyed ourselves, with the car and the track and the [24H] SERIES, and altogether it was a perfect weekend. Perfect performance from all of us, and it couldn’t end better than with pole position, the win and the fastest lap!”
Behind the Ferrari, JR Motorsport (#2, Ted van Vliet / Max Weering) came out on top of a close fight for 2nd place at Yas Marina, the BMW M6 GT3 passing the Saalocin by KoxRacing Porsche 911 GT3 R (#48, Nico Pronk / Stéphane Kox / Peter Kox) on-track for the runners-up spot inside the final 15 minutes. After six hour of continuous racing, the pair were split by just over 38 seconds at the flag.
The Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R (#91, Jürgen Häring / Markus Neuhofer / Alfred Renauer) finished just under two minutes behind in 4th place, the Bavarian team having, ironically, served more than two minutes in penalties for repeated track limit infringements during the race.
After a strong run early on, the Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 (#10, Jean-Francois Brunot / Kerong Li) eventually rounded out the overall top five ahead of ARC Bratislava’s own raging bull (#44, Miro Konopka / Matej Konopka). Leipert’s sister Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (#710, Gerhard Watzinger / Gregg Gorski / Gabriele Rindone) cemented out a good weekend for the German team in 9th.
LP Racing meanwhile was a shock retirement from the event shortly before half-distance. The Lamborghini Huracán GT3 (#88, Evan Chen / Thomas Yu Lee / Lorenzo Veglia) had shadowed the Baron Motorsport Ferrari during the opening hour before finally taking the lead of the race after the second round of pit stops. Just a few laps later however, the Lamborghini was back in the garage with terminal suspension damage.
A race-long fight for 992 victory eventually went the way of the Huber Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (#923, Gabriele Rindone / Matthias Hoffsümmer / Enrico Fulgenzi), with the United Arab Emirates’ RABDAN Motorsport by ID Racing (#977, Saif Alameri / Saeed Almheiri / Salem Alketbi) taking a popular 2nd in-class on home turf. Huber Racing’s second entry (#924, Maciej Blazek / Clément Mateu / Mark Wallenwein) had looked on course to secure a double podium for the German team but was eventually retired with a mysterious gearbox issue.
What then looked to be a comfortable podium for ID Racing (#944, Christof Langer / Bas Schouten / Steven Liquorish) was undone in dramatic fashion when the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup made contact with the Sally Racing CUPRA TCR DSG (#218, Mik Henriksen / Daniel Zefier / Morten Eriksen) at turn one with just two minutes of the race left to run. The resultant debris led to the fourth Code 60 of the afternoon being thrown and HRT Performance (#928, Marcel Zalloua / Sergio Pires / Theo Koundouris) coming through to take the final spot on the 992 podium on the very last lap of the race.
Ironically, HRT’s sister #930 entry (#930, Jari Ollila / Kari-Pekka Laaksonen) had led the event outright before running out of fuel during the second hour.
One week removed from taking TCE pole position at the Hankook 24H DUBAI, the Les Deux Arbres Ligier JS2 R (#202, Christophe Bouchut / Hugo Valente) has taken a commanding win in the TG class ahead of the CWS Engineering Ginetta G55 (#278, Kristian Prosser / Matthew Ibrahim). Despite securing TG pole position, and leading the category in the early going, CWS’ sister Ginetta G56 GT4 (#478, Colin White / Darren Leung / Robert Thompson) eventually fell to 5th in-class after losing six laps to a dislodged throttle cable.
The final class podium spot in TG consequently went to LAMERA by Racetrack Lamera GT (#223, Frederic Delpit / Tommy Rollinger / Laurent Ozkan / Levet Louis-Marie) after a clean run from the Luxembourg team.
In TCR, AC Motorsport took class victory and its second podium finish in as many races with the #188 Audi RS 3 LMS (Patrick Sing / Ivars Vallers / Luc Breukers). Three laps further back, the polesitting Zengő Motorsport CUPRA TCR DSG (#133, ‘KISMA’ / Tamás Horváth / Csaba Tóth / Szabolcs Gál / Zoltán Zengő) survived a clash with the PCR Sport Ligier JS2 R (#217, Harriet Arruabarrena / Juan Andújar / Jacobo García) to take 2nd in TCR, the Spanish Ligier unable to recover from heavy damage to its steering and alignment. Fittingly, the Spanish team’s CUPRA Leon Competición TCR (#117, Vicente Dasi / Josep Parera / Jacobo García) rounded out the TCR podium.
Endurance racing action continues on 25-26 March as the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook travels to the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello in Italy for its first European round of the year, the Hankook 12H MUGELLO. Further details regarding the 2022 24H SERIES calendar and championship standings can be found HERE.