At the 2021 Hankook 12H MUGELLO, Herberth Motorsport became the event’s first three-time winner, Reiter Engineering took a commanding win in an incident-hit GTX class, EBIMOTORS was on the top step again in ‘991’, and Red Camel-Jordans.nl secured a hard-fought win in TCR. But did you know…?
This year’s Hankook 12H MUGELLO was intercut with a record-equaling 20 Code 60 caution periods, which, honestly, isn’t all that surprising. The celebrated ‘old school’ venue continues to use gravel traps where many contemporary circuits have switched to asphalt run-off, and the circuit’s 1.1km start-finish straight and technical-yet-flowing infield mean on-track action is an inevitability. Combine that with a 43-car grid, and, ahem, ‘incidents’ are an inevitability.
Interestingly though, while 20 Code 60s is the event’s highest total to-date, equal to the ‘benchmark’ set in 2017, the actual time spent under caution isn’t as high as you might think. Indeed, the combined total of 1h 53m 28s under the purple flags in 2021 is 36 minutes less than the 2m 28m 8s spent under Code 60 at the event in 2019 (18 separate Code 60s) and almost an hour less than the 2h 27m 41s spent under purple in 2017. Each incident requires its own specific extraction protocol of course, but still, kudos was rightfully earned by the Mugello track staff over the weekend.
Porsche’s social media team certainly had their work cut out following this year’s Hankook 12H MUGELLO. Not only did Porsches win four of the six categories in Mugello – take the all-Porsche ‘991’ class with a pinch of salt if you must – Porsche also secured four of the top five finishing positions in Mugello courtesy of Herberth Motorsport (1st and 4th), DINAMIC Motorsport (3rd), and Haegeli by T2 Racing (5th). That’s not only highest aggregate ranking for one brand to-date at the Hankook 12H MUGELLO – Mercedes went three for five in 2015 and 2017 – it’s also the first time we’ve seen one GT brand monopolise the top five in that fashion since the Hankook 12H BRNO in 2015! On that occasion, Mercedes-AMG claimed four of the top five results, although, brutally, Scuderia Praha’s Ferrari still managed to take the win.
Herberth Motorsport’s victory in 2021 means that both the Bavarian team and Porsche now hold three outright wins at the Hankook 12H MUGELLO, the latter now level-pegging with Ferrari for most outright wins at the event.
Interestingly though, despite their demonstrative success in Tuscany, neither Porsche nor Ferrari have secured the most podium finishes at the Hankook 12H MUGELLO. That particular accolade actually goes to Mercedes, the three-pointed star having been represented seven times in the top three in Tuscany to Porsche’s six and Ferrari’s four. Bizarrely, not one of those eight podium spots includes the top step!
One of the more characterful entries since its 24H SERIES debut in 2016, Vortex V8 has suffered its fair share of misfortune over the years. Granted, the French team finished an impressive 2nd in-class on its maiden outing with the eponymous 1.0, but it would be well over a year before the lightweight sports car finished on the class podium again, and even that result was the loan high point in a season of DNFs.
Things seem to be looking up for Vortex this season though, despite tracking and suspension issues, and the occasional clash with the CP Racing Mercedes in Mugello. Having opened its 2021 account with 2nd in-class in Dubai, the French team also secured 2nd and 3rd in-class in Mugello behind GTX winner, Reiter Engineering. The result marks not only the first time that two Vortex 1.0s have shared the same podium in the 24H SERIES, it’s also the first time the lightweight sports car has finished two consecutive events in the 24H SERIES since 2016!*
*Bear in mind that the class win in Dubai in 2019 and the subsequent 3rd in-class at the following race in Mugello in 2019 were both secured with the team’s VW Scirocco GC 10 prototype, not the Vortex 1.0.
Clearly there’s something about Italian race circuits that cater well to the KTM X-BOW GTX. The Reiter Engineering-entered (and developed) KTM performed flawlessly at Mugello to take a commanding GTX-class win and finish inside the overall top 10. On top of that, the X-BOW even led one lap outright during the opening four hours of the event.
Leading a 24H SERIES event outright is nothing new to Reiter Engineering, of course. At last year’s Hankook 12H MONZA, the German team, again running the KTM X-BOW GTX, led 35 laps – on merit – around the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, and even finished ‘part one’ of that event in the overall lead.
Despite a trip into the gravel trap at half-distance (aided, admittedly, by the #202 JR Motorsport BMW E46 GTR), the EBIMOTORS-prepared Willi Motorsport Porsche 911-II Cup secured a hard-fought win in the 991 class over JUTA Racing at Mugello. It was the team’s first class win in the 24H SERIES since the 2018 Hankook 12H SPA.
Additionally, the result marked the fifth time an EBIMOTORS Porsche has finished on the podium in the 24H SERIES. The Italian team previously took class wins in 2018 at Navarra, Imola and Spa-Francorchamps – each of which was secured by Carlo and Lino Curti, and Marco Frezza – and 2nd place at last year’s Hankook 12H MUGELLO claimed by Marco Talarico, Leonardo-Maria del Vecchio, Marco Frezza and Alessandro Cutrera.
With Fabrizio Broggi and Sabino de Castro joining their Italian countrymen as EBIMOTORS’ podium finishers in Mugello, Romanian teammate Sergiu Nicolae now stands alone as the only non-Italian to have secured a podium finish for EBIMOTORS in the 24H SERIES.
This year’s Hankook 12H MUGELLO will unquestionably go down as one of the worst 24H SERIES weekends for the Autorama Motorsport / Wolf-Power Racing collaboration to-date. For starters, the team’s #112 Volkswagen Golf GTI didn’t even make it to qualifying after Roberto Ferri hit the the tyre barriers hard at turn nine during Thursday’s private test session. So violent was the impact, the VW’s turbocharged four-cylinder was ripped completely free of its mountings. Mercifully, Ferri is recovering well from his accident.
That left just the sister #1 Volkswagen to take the race start, and while Autorama’s sole remaining Golf did at one point run in the overall TCE top three, shock absorber failure up dropping the #1 VW from 4th to 5th in-class almost within sight of the flag. Mugello 2021 consequently marks the first time that Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing did not claim a TCR podium finish at a 24H SERIES event.
It’s been an incredible run for the reigning Overall TCE Teams’ champion, which, in the 15 races since its collaborative debut in Dubai in 2019, has claimed eight wins, three 2nd places, and three 3rd places.
Like the GT division before it, the fight for TCR podium honours was closer than you might think. While Herberth Motorsport and Red Camel-Jordans.nl sealed GT and TCE victories with a three and two-lap advantage respectively, MiddleCap racing with Scuderia Praha bested DINAMIC MOTORSPORT for 2nd in GT3 by just 10.941s, and the scrap between 2nd-placed NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing and AC Motorsport in TCE was decided by just 17.11s.
The latter should hardly be that surprising though, given the general competitiveness of the TCR field, particularly in Mugello. Indeed, in 2020, Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing took victory over NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (again) by a little under 90 seconds. In 2019, the Swiss-German team was again chased hard to the chequered flag by AC Motorsport, the Belgium team coming just 26.792s short of victory.
Fun fact, Red Camel and NKPP’s result marks the first CUPRA 1-2 in the 24H SERIES since the 2018 Hankook 24H BARCELONA. If you include the 4th place for RC2 Junior Team by Cabra Racing – solid result on the Leon Competición TCR’s maiden series outing – then Mugello 2021 is the most successful event for CUPRA Racing since the 2018 Hankook 12H SPA, when three Bas Koeten Racing-prepared CUPRAs finished 1st, 3rd and 4th, split only by the soon-to-be-retired SEAT León TCR V3.
After a faultless run, Speed Lover took its first win of the 2021 season on the reigning 991 Teams’ champion’s maiden run in the TCX class. In doing so, the Belgian outfit became the sixth different team in succession to take a win in the newly re-developed category, following Team ACP (Dubai, ’20), Autorama Motorsport (Monza, ’20), DayVTec Engineering (Hockenheim, ’20), Nordschleife Racing (Mugello, ’20) and PK Carsport (Dubai, ’21).
Interestingly, five of these six winners have also represented different countries, namely the USA (Team ACP), Switzerland (Autorama), The Netherlands (DayVTec), France (Nordschleife), and Belgium (PK Carsport and Speed Lover).
- Words – James Gent
- Images – Petr Frýba