Despite a win for Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors, reigning 992 Teams’ champion Red Ant Racing still holds a six-point advantage in the title chase following its double podium finish in Estoril.
Words – James Gent
Images – Nico Mombaerts
Red Ant Racing has retained its lead in the 992 Teams’ championship standings heading into the European season in finale after securing two class podiums on the 24H SERIES’ first official visit to Estoril.
The reigning 992 Teams’ ‘Europe’ champion was unable to beat nearest title rival Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors at Circuito do Estoril this past weekend, but nevertheless completed two strong runs to finish 3rd and 4th in-class in both Friday’s 6H Qualifying Race and Saturday’s Hankook 12H ESTORIL, falling just 1.5 seconds shy of 2nd in-class in the latter.
Though class wins for both GTX and GT4 Teams’ championship leaders RD Signs - Siauliai racing team and Atlas BX Motorsport means Red Ant Racing has slipped back to fourth in the overall GT European Trophy standings, the Belgian team was nevertheless satisfied with its double podium in Portugal, a result that keeps the team at the top of the 992 Teams’ standings by six points over Willi Motorsport.
“It was indeed a tough assignment and also an excellent preparation for the two 24-hour races that we will be completing this year,” team owner Bert Redant explained. “At the end of August, there will be the 24 Hours of Zolder and three weeks later, [Hankook] 24H BARCELONA will follow. But first there was this Portuguese weekend and we performed well there, with two 3rd and 4th place finishes.
“Of course, a 2nd place and a victory for our closest competitor Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors means that the battle for the title in our class will only be settled at the finish in Barcelona. We won the title in Barcelona last year, so why not do it again this year?”
Fresh from its first win of the season in Monza, Red Ant’s dual Porsche 992 GT3 Cups lined up a solid 3rd and 6th for Friday’s 6H Qualifying Race, and remained well in the hunt for class victory – reigning 992 Drivers’ champions Yannick and Ayrton Redant, and Kobe de Breucker were only 18 seconds behind 2nd-placed Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors after the first four hours – and ultimately translated its qualifying pace into 3rd and 4th place in-class at the chequered flag.
Saturday’s Hankook 12H ESTORIL began in fighting fashion when Yannick Redant and Red Camel-Jordans.nl’s Rik Breukers battled on-track early on for the class lead – the 2019 Hankook 24H DUBAI winner eventually came out on top in the duel – though alternate fuel strategies, and a number of late-race Code 60 caution periods, meant the Belgian team retook the class lead during both the second and eighth hours. Superior pace from both the #909 Porsche and #955 Willi Motorsport entry meant the pair eventually opened a gap to the rest of the 992 field, although Red Ant Racing still ran 3rd for the majority of the 12-hour event.
A troubled brake change for Red Camel-Jordans.nl eventually brought the #903 Porsche right back onto the Dutch team’s tail, though the #909 was given a reprieve courtesy of a well-timed Code 60 in the closing stages. Incredibly, after 12 full hours of racing, the 2nd-placed Red Camel and 3rd-placed Red Ant were split by just 1.5 seconds at the chequered flag.
Having run consistently in the category top five throughout the event, Michiel Haverans (who made his 24H SERIES debut in Estoril), Brent Verheyen (who returned for his first start since last year’s Hankook 24H DUBAI) and Jimmy De Breucker brought the sister #904 Porsche home 4th in-class after a strong run by the trio.
“I am impressed by the good work of our two young drivers, who still have relatively little experience with a Porsche in this type of racing", Redant continued. “Of course Jimmy is a fixed value and the combination of him with Michiel and Brent worked very well. There's music in this, that's for sure."
Though a 2nd place on Friday and a win on Saturday for Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors has shrunk Red Ant’s championship lead, the Belgian team’s #903 still holds a six-point advantage heading into the European season-closing Hankook 24H BARCELONA. Yannick Redant holds a similar six-point advantage over Willi Motorsport’s Sergiu Nicolae and Sabino de Castro (Ayrton Redant did not compete in Monza). Moreover, the #903 Red Ant Racing Porsche is still only eight points adrift of the outright championship lead.