As the 24H SERIES makes its return to the Hungaroring, Joe reflects on the circuit’s key attributes, and how two of the series’ top teams in particular have ‘raised the bar’ on-track.
The Hankook 24H BARCELONA saw 1-2 victories in both the GT and TCE divisions, with the Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 Rs and the Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing Volkswagen Golfs commanding both respectively. Not that this is too surprising, as there are quite a few similarities between Herberth and Autorama.
Yes, they are running with completely different cars – the rear-engined, rear-wheel drive Porsche is very different to the front-engined, front-wheel drive TCR Golf certainly from a driver’s perspective – but it’s the operational aspects of how these teams go about their business in long distance races where the similarities lie. Both Herberth and Autorama have won many races and championships in the 24H SERIES, and both show a masterclass in how to deal with the vagaries of on-track competition: the amount of times I have found myself thinking, “how did they get into the lead?” are too numerous to mention. They very rarely, if ever, allow themselves to be drawn into any early racing incidents, sticking to their strategy of how and more importantly when to react to incidents on track that may bring out those pesky Code 60 flags.
Where I am perhaps more impressed is how these top teams deal with situations of adversity: after a sizeable shunt during practice at Spa-Francorchamps a few years ago, the Autorama squad had to source a new shell from a local Volkswagen dealer just to make sure they were on the grid the following day! Being in the pit lane allows me to see this kind of commitment for myself, and having been that side of the garage door for many years, I always feel I am very much in my natural habitat. To the point that I have to show massive self-control on many occasions to not roll up my sleeves and muck in with a gearbox change. It’s this kind of professionalism that has really raised the bar in how you must apply yourself to do well in the 24H SERIES.
With the Hankook 24H BARCELONA already becoming a distant memory, the 24H SERIES now heads to the Hungaroring in Hungary, a venue the series is relatively familiar with having raced over 12 hours there between 2008 and 2014. Weather as ever played its part, and as the race finished in darkness, the victorious SPS automotive performance and 2nd-placed Hofor-Racing were split by just 36 seconds in a Mercedes SLS AMG 1-2.
The Hungaroring is renowned for its twists and bumps, and has been described as a 'round the houses' type circuit (only without 'the houses'). This will make things very hard for all of our classes to make their way through the slower traffic and also means our slower classes will need to keep a wary eye on their rear-view mirrors. As ever though, I'm pretty confident that over the course of the 12-hour race, we will see the usual action and challenges present themselves.
The Hungaroring has a very rich history already, and I have no doubt that the 2021 24H SERIES is about to add yet another layer.
- Words – Joe Bradley
- Images – Petr Fryba
You can also check out Joe’s column in our magazine for the 2021 Hankook 12H HUNGARY, available for download below.