AC Motorsport will enter next year’s 24H SERIES powered by Hankook with a brand-new car, following confirmation that its Audi RS 3 LMS, now in its fifth season of competition, will be retired after the Hankook 12H KUWAIT in December.
Words – James Gent
Images – Petr Frýba
TCE frontrunner AC Motorsport has confirmed that its tenured Audi RS 3 LMS – a former TCE winner of the Hankook 24H DUBAI, no less – will make its final start in the 24H SERIES at this year’s Hankook 12H KUWAIT season finale.
The Belgian team entered its first 24H SERIES powered by Hankook event in 2017 at that year’s TCE-only Hankook 24H BARCELONA, completing a hard-fought event 13th in-class. Following a part-campaign in 2018, AC Motorsport entered its first full 24H SERIES season in 2019, ending a promising year with four class podiums and a rostrum spot in the TCR standings. The #188 Audi has since gone on to take TCE victory in Dubai in 2020 and at last year’s Hankook 12H SEBRING, the latter en-route to the runners-up spot in the Overall TCE Teams’ standings.
Following this weekend’s Hankook 24H BARCELONA, AC Motorsport has confirmed the Audi will make its final series appearance in Kuwait on 30 November – 2 December. Options remain open as to the team’s new charger for the 2023 season.
“We are coming to the end of a five-year cycle with our car, and for various reasons, including balance of performance regulations between cars equipped with a sequential gearbox or DSG, we will not go any further,” explains team patriarch Stéphane Perrin, who makes his return to the 24H SERIES in Catalunya this weekend. “As soon as Kuwait is [complete], we will study with the team the different possibilities available to us with a view to 2023. We will be back, that's for sure, but it remains to be decided with what type of car.”
Having missed two rounds convalescing after a heavy on-track collision at this year’s Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Stéphane Perrin is keen to put recent unfortunate outings in Barcelona behind him as AC Motorsport refocusing its efforts on the TCE Championship of the Continents: across its previous four outings at Barcelona, the team has secured just one top five finish in-class.
A strong result in Barcelona though could level the playing field against current standings leader BBR heading into Kuwait.
“We have indeed decided to take part in the last two events of the Championship of the Continents,” Stéphane continues. “The crew is well balanced, and even though we are going to suffer at the start of the race against the TCR cars equipped with a sequential gearbox, a double turn of the clock in Barcelona remains a real challenge, both for the mechanics as well as for the drivers. There are eight TCR cars entered in the TCE Division, which means that the fight will be [tough], and the twists and turns will undoubtedly be many. We will keep our fingers crossed.”
Stephane will be joined on driver detail this weekend by long-time teammate Mathieu Detry and touring car staple Vincent Radermecker, the latter of whom makes his first start with CREVENTIC since, fittingly, last year’s Hankook 24H BARCELONA. The trio will be joined by Britain’s Charles Dawson, who makes only his third 24H SERIES start this weekend after runs with AC Motorsport and Wolf-Power Racing earlier this year in Abu Dhabi and Portimão respectively.
Following this afternoon’s 90-minute qualifying session, competitors at this weekend’s Hankook 24H BARCELONA will contest official Night Practice tonight ahead of the start of the 23rd Hankook 24H BARCELONA at 13.00 hrs on Saturday 10th September. The 24-hour event is set to run uninterrupted throughout the night at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya before the chequered flag is unfurled at 13.00 hrs on Sunday 11 September.