· Rutronik Racing on top in intense fight with Herberth Motorsport.
· Heavy rain briefly stops play at Sebring.
· ST Racing is the new Overall GT Teams’ champion.
· 991 winner Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors takes overall podium spot.
· Leipert Motorsport overcomes steering issue to win GTX.
· NOLASPORT takes GT4 category win at home.
SEBRING (21 November, 2021) – Rutronik Racing has secured its maiden victory in the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook after a race-long, and rain-affected, battle with Herberth Motorsport at the Hankook 24H SEBRING, an event at which ST Racing was also crowned the Overall GT Teams’ champion.
After 24 continuous hours of racing, Swen Herberger drove the #18 Audi R8 LMS across the line to complete 559 laps of the 6.018-km Sebring International Raceway en-route to victory.
The Rutronik Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 (#18, Michael Doppelmayr / Markus Winkelhock / Elia Erhart / Swen Herberger) took a sensational maiden pole position during yesterday’s 30-minute qualifying session at Sebring, the German team extending its advantage during the early changeable stages of the race before its nearest rival, the Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R (#91, Daniel Allemann / Ralf Bohn / Alfred Renauer), began to pile on the pressure. Superb opening stints from Markus Winkelhock were not enough to prevent the Herberth Porsche from moving ahead during the pit stops, though the Audi and the Porsche rarely circulated more than one minute apart thereafter.
Following a light shower both at the beginning of the event and early on Sunday morning, heavy rain at three-quarter distance briefly brought racing to a halt at the Sebring International Raceway as more and more standing water pooled on the Floridian circuit’s famous concrete. All cars were returned to the pits during this brief red flag period.
A rare mistake by Herberth Motorsport however saw the Porsche rejoin the track ahead of the race restart without “respecting the pit exit signal”, the Bavarian team incurring a 120-second penalty in the process. Though the top two still finished less than two minutes apart, the way was clear for Rutronik Racing to take a well-deserved victory at Sebring
“This one was hard,” Markus Winkelhock explained to radiolemans.com’s Andrew Marriott. “The conditions were really difficult all over the race. When it started raining heavily, and you’re doing 120kph on the back straight, there’s a lot aquaplaning! It was a very challenging race. I have won the Nürburgring 24 Hours three times, and Spa-Francorchamps, and to win this race, it’s one more in the collection and a nice one to have. I’m very happy!”
In an incredible turn of events, the Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (#955, Fabrizio Broggi / Sergiu Nicolae / Sabino de Castro) secured both the 991-class win and the final spot on the overall podium after a flawless run. Sebring was the Romanian-Italian team’s fourth win of the season and also marks the first time since last year’s Hankook 24H PORTIMAO that a ‘991’ competitor has breached the overall top three at a 24H SERIES event.
In a further shot in the arm to the Porsche-only category, Willi Motorsport / Ebimotors’ nearest class rival – the RPM Racing Porsche 911- II (#907, Tracy Krohn / Niclas Jonsson / Patrick Huisman / Andy Lally) – collected 2nd in-class and finished 4th overall after an impressive race.
Further back in 5th, the Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (#710, Gregg Gorski / Gerhard Watzinger / Lance Bergstein / Al Miller / Kenton Koch) is the third different class winner to finish inside the overall top five after a commanding performance in GTX, despite the Lamborghini suffering a loose steering rack. The MRS GT-Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup ‘992’ (#987, Jeff Courtney / Alexander Marmureanu / Omar Balkissoon / Sebastian Moreno) recovered from early delays to finish 2nd in-class ahead of the troubled Vortex V8 Vortex 1.0 (#701, Philippe Bonnel / Boris Gimond / Sebastien Lajoux / Steve Brooks), the latter of which struggled with drivetrain issues and a loose rear canopy. Despite this, Sebring marked the six time in seven races that Vortex V8 has claimed a GTX-class podium.
In 6th overall, the NOLASPORT Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CS MR (#470, Matt Travis / Jason Hart / Anthony Noble / Alex Mayer / Zac Anderson) took victory on home turf after an extraordinarily close fight for GT4 class honours. The Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 (#423, Gray Newell / Ian James / Roman De Angelis / Alex Riberas) remained well in striking range as the race entered its closing stages only for gearbox issues to bring the Aston to a halt with just two hours left, opening the door for the ST Racing BMW M4 GT4 (#438, Samantha Tan / Chandler Hull / Jon Miller / Nick Wittmer / Bryson Morris) in the process.
The result also confirms ST Racing as this year’s 24H SERIES Overall GT Teams’ champion, impressively, in the Canadian team’s maiden endurance racing season. 2nd in-class simultaneously secures Samantha Tan, Chandler Hull and Jon Miller the Overall GT Drivers’ championship.
A recovering Team ACP – Tanger Associates BMW M4 GT4 (#421, Catesby Jones / Jim Norman / Josh Norman / Ken Goldberg), which lost time with damaged left rear suspension after hitting the tyres at turn 17, took the final GT4 podium spot.
Several early contenders for victory during a fraught Hankook 24H SEBRING – the longest international motor race to be held at the Sebring International Raceway – had already fallen by the wayside as the event entered half distance. After running as high as 2nd in the early going, the Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 (#10, Brendon Leitch / Tyler Cooke / Dennis Fetzer / Seb Morris / Sebastian Balthasar) eventually succumbed to splitter and floor damage after a heavy impact with the wall. The CP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#85, Charles Putman / Charles Espenlaub / Joe Foster / Shane Lewis), which started its home race on the front row, was out shortly after daybreak after contact with the turn one barrier in the wet.
Herberth Motorsport second entry meanwhile (#92, Jürgen Häring / Bobby Gonzales / Wolfgang Triller / Felix Neuhofer / Marco Seefried) eventually finished 10th overall. The Porsche 911 GT3 R led the race outright at the very start of the event, but later fell back with gearbox issues.
Finally in the GT division, and despite a few on-track collisions, the BMW M Motorsport M4 GT3 (#82, Bill Auberlen / Robby Foley / James Clay / Neil Verhagen / Max Hesse) ended a successful extended test race at Sebring with no mechanical failures.
An enthralling Hankook 24H SEBRING draws to a close the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook for 2021. CREVENTIC’s endurance racing program will return though in 2022, starting with the 17th running of the Hankook 24H DUBAI on 13-14-15 January and the non-championship Hankook 6H ABU DHABI one week later on 21-22 January. Both events will be held in the United Arab Emirates. European racing action is set to begin with the Hankook 12H MUGELLO at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello in Italy on 25-26 March. Further information can be found HERE.