Having secured a hard-fought 2nd place at the Hankook 12H HUNGARY, AC Motorsport will be looking for a strong race next month at Sebring in its efforts to secure the Overall TCE Teams’ title.
AC Motorsport’s Stéphane Perrin has praised the Belgian team and teammate Mathieu Detry for a hard-earned 2nd place at last weekend’s Hankook 12H HUNGARY, but knows a strong performance at the season-closing Hankook 24H SEBRING will be crucial to its Overall TCE Teams’ title aspirations.
Though bested by the #112 Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing Volkswagen in Hungary, AC Motorsport’s runners-up spot means the #188 Audi actually pulled four points back on the Swiss-German team’s sister #1 Golf GTI, which finished 3rd in-class at the Hungaroring and is currently on top in the Overall TCE Teams’ standings and
Stéphane Perrin admits thought that, while AC Motorsport will be looking to maximize its weekend at CREVENTIC’s inaugural 24-hour event at the Sebring International Raceway, luck will also have to play its hand in the USA.
“By [finishing] ahead of our main opponents in the title race, we are still in contention mathematically,” Stéphane explained in an official team communique. “We don't necessarily have our fate in our hands, so at Sebring… it will be victory at all costs, and hoping that the Autorama team will experience, finally, a more complicated weekend.
"This [twice round the clock] event will constitute a new technical challenge, especially for the [Audi’s] shock absorbers. We know that the Sebring International Raceway is a very bumpy track with its famous concrete slabs. Fortunately, there will be more straights than at the Hungaroring, but once again, it will take a lot of strategic thinking […]. We clearly have nothing to lose. Uncle Sam, here we come!"
After a tough race in Barcelona, AC Motorsport returned to the podium at the Hungaroring, a technical circuit ideally suited to Autorama’s more nimble Volkswagens than the Belgian team’s Audi. Despite the RS 3 LMS suffering differential issues during the final third of the event, and with AC Motorsport running the only two-driver line-up in the TCR ranks at Hungary, Stéphane admits 2nd place at the Hankook 12H HUNGARY proved a ‘net win’ overall.
“We knew that the Audi would not have an advantage over the Volkswagen on the Hungarian track, which is very technical,” the former Larrousse and Ligier F1 engineer continues. “In fact, both Mathieu [Detry] and I were very careful not to climb too high over the kerbs. On such a track, where there is no respite in the form of long straights, the differential always ends up over-heating. Both the VWs and the [Red Camel-Jordans.nl] Audi in the TCE division suffered from this, but where the Golfs encountered intermittent trouble, the damage was often deeper on the RS 3 LMS. This is how we competed during the last four hours of the race. It was not pleasant, and we had to be very gentle with the accelerator, but the points for 2nd place proved our efforts paid off.
“It was of course a big bet to approach this race with two drivers” – Autorama Motorsport fielded four drivers for both of its entries, whereas Red Camel-Jordans.nl featured the father-sons trio of Ivo, Rik and Luc Breukers on its return to the TCR class – “In the end, we did not experience the slightest failure. In fact, doing two-hour stints was easier physically than [it was] mentally, because on such a circuit, there is never any downtime and concentration must be kept as high as possible. As it was not too hot this weekend in Hungary, we have shown that such a race is do-able with two drivers, even when you are aiming for a place at the top of the standings."
Additional podiums at Mugello, Circuit Paul Ricard and Hockenheim, at which the TCE leaders were split by just four seconds, mean AC Motorsport is now just eight points behind defending Overall TCE Teams’ champion Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#1) heading into the season finale. The latter completed the TCE podium at the Hankook 12H HUNGARY.
CWS Engineering, which was unable to compete at the Hungaroring, is just two points behind AC Motorsport. Following its second consecutive win of the season, the second Autorama Volkswagen (#112) has now moved up to fourth in the Overall TCE Teams’ standings.
- Images – Petr Frýba