After a tough 2022 campaign, Herberth Motorsport was on the podium at the 2023 Hankook 24H DUBAI after taking a 1-2 in GT3-Pro/AM and finishing 2nd overall.
Words – James Gent
Images – Petr Frýba Photography / Racing Pixels
Herberth Motorsport is celebrating an “almost perfect start” to its 2023 24H SERIES powered by Hankook season following its 1-2 finish in GT3-PRO/AM and overall runners-up spot at the Hankook 24H DUBAI.
The Bavarian team put a tough 2022 season behind it with a strong run to 2nd overall this past weekend at the Dubai Autodrome, at which its lead #91 Porsche 911 GT3 R led 113 of the completed 621 laps and fell just 31.761 seconds short of taking outright victory.
It marks Herberth Motorsport’s best result at the Hankook 24H DUBAI since its outright victory at the event in 2017. The overall and double class podium is also the first time the #91 Porsche has finished inside the top three, overall or in-class, since the Hankook 24H SEBRING in 2021.
“I don't even know how many times the lead changed,” team principal Robert Renauer explains (it was 26, by the way). “In any case, it was very common. Even at halftime it became apparent that the WRT team would be our strongest opponent in the fight for victory. We owe the fact that we were so competitive at all to the entire crew. Our stops worked perfectly and we covered the distance without any technical problems. This is anything but a matter of course!
The 2023 edition is also a marked improvement over the team’s 2022 race, which ended before it had even started courtesy of a clash during Free Practice with PPM.
“In 2022 we also started with high expectations," Daniel Allemann continues. “An accident early in the event meant the weekend was over early for us. So it feels all the nicer to be on the podium after such an intense race.”
Despite qualifying 13th overall, Herberth Motorsport put a strong opening stint by Renauer and its typically metronomic pit work to effective use to move up the order to 5th overall by the end of the first hour, and up to 2nd behind eventual winner Team WRT by the seventh hour.
Fittingly, Alfred and Robert Renauer, and established teammates Daniel Allemann and Ralf Bohn made life anything but easy for its German rival. Indeed, the #91 Porsche, having prioritized track position over brimming the tanks during the event’s 13th Code 60 early on Sunday morning meant Herberth had moved into the overall lead with six hours of the Hankook 24H DUBAI remaining. As the event went into the final hour, just 27 seconds split the top two, Team WRT having moved back ahead only for Herberth to retake the lead after the final driver change, 45 minutes from home.
A grandstand finish ensued, with the pair separated by just over 10 seconds, in favour of Herberth, with 20 minutes to go. One final Code 60 seven laps from home allowed R.Renauer to pit for a late splash-and-dash under purple flags, and despite a formidable effort by the German, the gap – and superb pace by WRT’s Dries Vanthoor – proved too much to overcome, Renauer eventually following Vanthoor over the line 21 seconds later.
A 10-second penalty for track limit infringements was then applied post-race.
Despite the near-win, Herberth was nevertheless thrilled to be back in the fight for victory once again in the 24H SERIES. 2nd overall from 13th on the grid also marks the best podium finish from furthest back on the grid since Manthey Racing finished 2nd from 15th. Both though are beaten by Black Falcon, who finished 2nd in 2016 after starting from the very back row.
The all-American line-up of Jason Hart, Elliot Skeer, Adam Adelson, and Seth Lucas cemented a superb weekend for Herberth Motorsport by finishing 6th on the road and 2nd in GT3-PRO/Am. Despite starting two spots further forward on the grid, time lost in the refueling area meant the team dropped out of the top 20 altogether during the opening hour, and was only back in the top 10 at quarter-distance. Unable to catch the sister #91 Porsche, which had already begun its assault for the overall win, the #92 911 GT3 R was still able to hold off the similarly fast-recovering Heart of Racing by SPS Mercedes-AMG GT3 to take 2nd in-class. The 2023 Hankook 24H DUBAI was thus the first time Herberth Motorsport finished 1-2 in the 24H SERIES since the Hankook 12H MONZA in 2020.
The #91 Porsche 911 GT3 R will once again be in action at this weekend’s Hankook 6H ABU DHABI, with Markus and Felix Neuhofer stepping into the driver line-up alongside Alfred Renauer.