At 11.00 hrs on Thursday 11 June, more than a dozen GT cars and six TCR tin tops started intermittently rolling down pitroad at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve for the first of two three-hour Private Test sessions for the annual Hankook 24H PORTIMAO.
It marked the first time since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic just under three months earlier that international motorsport returned to action in Europe. Admittedly, there had been a few changes since our Dubai season-opener back in January
Pit lane protocol for example had been extensively revised pre-event. Each car was given its own garage in an effort to encourage social distancing between crews, now operated with the minimum required number of personnel. Where possible, mechanics were requested not to share equipment and tools. During pit stops, only two mechanics, rather than the customary four, were allowed to work on their respective chargers in the pit lane, each of whom were required to wear face masks.
A new digital interface allowed teams to remain in regular contact with race control and the event organisers, with even the traditional pre-event driver briefing being conducted remotely. As is customary, the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO was live streamed across YouTube, incorporating Radio Show Limited’s inimitable commentary and analysis from Friday’s Qualifying sessions onwards. Albeit conducted remotely from the team’s headquarters in London.
Among the most noticeable differences though was the grandstands, which featured no race-day fans at all as the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO was held behind closed doors for the first time in its four-year history. Fortunately the paddock, and CREVENTIC’s social media network, retained much of its traditional family-friendly atmosphere, even despite the exceptional circumstances.
Yes, changes had been made, and caution, never a fleeting issue for CREVENTIC even at the best of times, remained a priority throughout the weekend. Nevertheless, after a six-month hiatus, the 24H SERIES had made good on its promise. Real world racing was back!
*Our thanks to Daan Schel for his work on the 2020 Hankook 24H PORTIMAO ‘Aftermovie’. You can also check out 'NINE fascinating facts' from the event HERE.