At the Circuit of the Americas, the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook crowned five new ‘Continents’ championships following a program that took our competitors across the Middle East, Europe and North America. We caught with our 2019 titleholders in the paddock at COTA to discuss their newly acquired silverware.
Ingo, three wins from three starts in the 24H SERIES Continents this year, and the Overall GT Teams’ title. You must be very proud!
“It’s been a fantastic and amazing season. We were very happy to be competing in the [24H SERIES Continents] again but even we didn’t expect the year to go so well for us. It’s the second time in three years we’ve won the SPX-class, but it’s the first time we’ve won the Overall GT ‘Continents’ title for both the team and our driver. So there is plenty to celebrate!”
“We’re also very happy to be participating in the 24H SERIES Continents again, and even more so to win the title!"
Safe to say we’ll be seeing Leipert Motorsport in Dubai in 2020 then?
“We have been competing with CREVENTIC since the very beginning in 2006, and we’ve followed them to every race in Dubai every year since then. So, of course, our Lamborghini will be back in action again in 2020, and we’re looking forward to another win in Dubai.”
Overall GT Team and ‘SPX’
Overall GT Driver and ‘SPX’ – Harald Schlotter
Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo Evo (Dubai and COTA)
Mercedes-AMG GT4 (Portimão)
Dubai: 1st in SPX (14th overall, GT)
Portimão: 1st in SPX (12th, overall GT)
COTA: 1st in SPX (7th overall, GT)
Adrian and Stefan, out of seven TCE races this year, you won four of them and walked away with two championships. Could you have anticipated this level of success?
Adrian Wolf: “It was amazing! At the start of the season, we never thought we’d be this successful. Our goal this year was to fight for the podium at every race, which is not easy in the 24H SERIES! But we’ve had only podiums with the #112 Volkswagen all season and the whole team has done a brilliant job, so we couldn’t be happier!”
Stefan Tanner: Bear in mind all this was done with different drivers too. SO it just goes to show how important it has been to work as a team.”
You had a tough weekend at COTA but still managed to finish on the podium. Were there times when you felt the title was slipping away?
AW: “For the team’s championship, we were very confident, but on Saturday morning in COTA and after the troubles we had, we felt sure we’d lost the driver’s title. But I say all the time, a 24-hour race goes for 24-hours, so you can never give up. You have to do everything you possibly can, and hopefully, it will all come to you in the end.”
Stefan, one season, two titles. Can we expect much of the same in 2020?
ST: “I hope so! We’ll try out best, and to take another win in Dubai would be a great way to start our title defence.”
Overall TCE Team and ‘TCR’
Overall TCE Driver and ‘TCR’ – Yannick Mettler / Jérôme Ogay
Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR DSG
Dubai: 1st in TCR (1st overall, TCE)
Portimão: 1st in TCR (1st overall, TCE)
Barcelona: 3rd in SPX (3rd, overall TCE)
COTA: 3rd in SPX (3rd, overall TCE)
Denis, first win of the season in COTA. What a great way to seal the A6-Am title!
“Yeah, for sure. We never expected this because the [A6]PRO and [A6]AM classes have been very competitive this season, and we have no SEMI-PRO or PRO drivers. So that’s a lot of pressure for our five gentlemen. But it all went well in COTA, we had a good strategy, the drivers made no mistake and the team performed very well.”
In A6-Am this year, Car Collection Motorsport had CP Racing and Herberth Motorsport as its main rivals. These are not teams that are easy to beat in a title chase!
“Absolutely! Both of these teams are very strong competitors in [the 24H SERIES], and we’ve had some very enjoyable battles on-track with them, even though away from the track, we’re all good friends. CP [Racing] has a very strong driver line-up, and we all know how quick Alfred and Robert Renauer are, so to beat these teams is very satisfying.
“This year, consistency has been crucial. We know the Audi [R8 LMS] very well, we know it is very competitive, and we had no major technical issues this year. So we’re really looking forward to Dubai to start out title defence, and hopefully, take another win!”
A6 Teams and ‘A6-Am’
Overall A6 Drivers and ‘A6-Am’ – Elmar Grimm / Ingo Vogler / Johannes Dr. Kirchhoff
Audi R8 LMS Evo 2019
Dubai: 3rd in A6-Am (9th overall, GT)
Portimão: 4th in A6-Am (8th overall, GT)
Barcelona: 2nd in A6-Am (5th overall, GT)
COTA: 1st in A6-Am (3rd overall, GT)
Aude-Marie, you sealed the 24H SERIES Europe title in Barcelona, and then you secured the ‘Continents’ championship at COTA too. Not been a bad old season, has it?!
“It really has! To win two championships this year has been unbelievable, and to finish the year with a win is a great sign-off for Porsche Lorient Racing.”
Does the win at COTA make up for the win the team lost in Barcelona?
“It doesn’t ‘make up for’ Barcelona, because the #911 still finished on the podium, but a win in COTA does reward all of the team’s hardwork. And it’s particularly satisfying because the #911 [991-II Cup] hadn’t won all year before COTA. Always seconds and third, rather than firsts…”
That consistency proved crucial to the title fight though…
“It did. That’s why we always prepare our cars as thoroughly as we can before a race, and why it’s so important for our mechanics and drivers to take care of the cars. Whether it’s a 12-hour or 24-hour race, this is important to respect the car and our fellow competitors. It pays off in the end, and we have two championship trophies to prove that!”
‘911’ Driver – Frédéric Ancel
Porsche 991-II Cup
Dubai: 3rd in 991 (19th overall, GT)
Portimão: 2nd in 991 (11th overall, GT)
Barcelona: 3rd in 991 (16th overall, GT)
COTA: 1st in 991 (12th overall, GT)
Simon, anyone who follows you on Twitter will know how much this championship means to you…
“Yeah, and the pride hasn’t quite sunk in yet! We went to Dubai, started last and came through to finish 2nd. After that we thought, ‘right, we really have to chase the championship now!’ It’s been a bit of a crazy season.”
A very fruitful one too, although Barcelona was quite a tough race for you…
“For sure. Looking back, I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else, but at the time, when I was in the medical centre and getting an IV [for severe dehydration], I was thinking, ‘what am I doing here?!’ But it was all worth it. Testing yourself and the car to the limit is what endurance racing is all about.”
You had some problems in COTA. Was there a point when the team thought it was close but not quite close enough for the title?
“It started on the Saturday at COTA with fuel pick-up issues, and… I trust the team enough to know they’ll do everything they can to get the [BMW M4 GT4] to the finish, and truth be told, all we needed was rather championship points rather than a podium. But it cross my mind a few times, so it was very stressful and nerve-wracking. And now we’ve got to do it all over again in Dubai!”
‘GT4’ Driver – Simon Tibbett / Olaf Meyer / Björn Simon
BMW M4 GT4
Dubai: 2nd in GT4 (23rd overall, GT)
Barcelona: 2nd in GT4 (26th overall, GT)
COTA: 2nd in GT4 (13th overall, GT)