Rain-rain, go away; TCR drama at the flag; and an unlikely TCE champion!
Unpredictable weather at Spa-Francorchamps is nothing new, but competitors faced a tough start to the inaugural Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS as intermittent rain and flashes of sun constantly changed the need for wet and/or slick tyres.
Series stalwart Bas Koeten Racing, renowned for its meticulous pit work, was, unsurprisingly, undeterred by the changeable conditions, and finished an impressive weekend in the Ardennes with an outright TCE win, and with all three of its SEAT Leons in the overall top seven. Admittedly though, the Dutch team received a little help in the closing stages.
Despite controlling the TCR class from the very beginning, Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#303) was handed a one-minute time penalty during the closing hour, served when the SEAT inadvertently overtook another car during the final Code 60 caution period. A handy 22.6s lead at the chequered flag was still not enough of a cushion, and Red Camel summarily fell to 2nd behind Bas Koeten’s LMS Racing entry (#119) post-race.
4th on the road at the flag, Bas Koeten’s sister Kawasaki Racing SEAT (#155) completed the TCR class podium.
HTP Motorsport (#84) got its development race with the brand-new Mercedes-AMG GT4 (see page 16) off to a good start with pole position. But while the ‘Testteam’ led the opening 10 laps, the Merc could not hold back the RTR Projects KTM X-BOW GT4 (#221), the latter of which was thriving in the difficult conditions and quickly disappeared into the distance. Sadly, electrical issues shortly before the restart on Saturday morning meant the KTM was already out of contention before half-distance, though RTR could at least salvage 15th overall.
Fellow early leader Black Falcon (#2) also fell by the wayside with accident damage at three-quarter distance, but did at least recover to finish 8th overall and 2nd in SP3-GT4 behind Uwe Alzen Automotive’s own AMG GT4 (#211). The latter also secured the final step on the overall podium.
Having come into the event with a mathematical, but unlikely, chance at the Overall TCE Teams’ title, Synchro Motorsport (#176) enjoyed a solid run in the tricky conditions, despite early power loss issues, to finish 3rd in A3 behind the German Wheels BMW M3 (#132) and RKC/TGM’s diesel-powered Honda Civic (#99). Amazingly, problems for TCE championship leader MONLAU COMPETICION (#107) – drivetrain issues ended up dropping the Spanish team from 3rd in TCR in the early going to 10th – as well as fellow title contender CWS Engineering (#178), whose Ginetta G55 was stymied with throttle issues, incredibly allowed Synchro Motorsport to leapfrog both in the Overall TCE Teams’ standings at the season finale by just two points.
As in TCR, drama also unfolded in the A2 class in the closing moments when the Dan Agro Racing Renault Clio Cup (#185) inherited 2nd in-class on the very last lap, the beneficiary of engine issues that had sidelined the HTM Racing Volkswagen Golf TDI #222) late in the day. The German team nonetheless was able to hang on for 3rd in A2, but neither the Renault nor the VW could touch the Sally Racing Renault Clio Cup (#52), which sailed – almost literally on the wet asphalt – to a comfortable second A2-class win of the season.
Having held a one-lap advantage throughout the majority of the event, JJ Motorsport (#192) took a popular home win in Belgium in the CUP1 class ahead of Sorg Rennsport (#152) and series newcomer Gamsiz Motorsport (#162), early class favourite DUWO Racing (#235) having been eliminated early with turbocharger failure.