SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS (24 April, 2022) – Phoenix Racing emerged victorious from the 2022 Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS after a sensational, race-long battle with CP Racing and WTM Racing.
On an opposing fuel strategy, the Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II (#18, Michael Doppelmayr / Pierre Kaffer / Elia Erhart / Patryk Krupinski) repeatedly swapped the overall lead with the CP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#85, Charles Putman / Charles Espenlaub / Shane Lewis), which took this morning’s restart from pole position, and the WTM Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 (#22, Georg Weiss / Leonard Weiss / Jochen Krumbach / Daniel Keilwitz) throughout the course of the afternoon.
With CP Racing forced to conserve fuel during its final stint, and WTM Racing, which also suffered two punctures during the afternoon, required to make one final driver change 10 minutes from home, Phoenix Racing eventually strengthened its lead and went on to take victory one lap clear.
Elia Erhart drove the #18 Audi across the line to complete 256 laps of the 7.004km Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, and even had to contend with a late rain shower during his final run. “This is a great feeling. It’s fantastic!” Elia Erhart explained to CREVENTIC
post-race. “We really wanted to win this race, and it was so tough, because it started raining during the last eight laps. It was too early to go to rain tyres, and we still had to fight hard with CP Racing and WTM Racing. So it was very close, but we also really enjoyed that. This is a great result for us!”
While WTM Racing also secured 2nd in the GT3-PRO/AM class behind Phoenix Racing, CP Racing was victorious in the GT3-AM category. Behind the overall top three, the Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R (#91, Daniel Allemann / Ralf Bohn / Jürgen Häring) finished a hard-earned 4th overall and 2nd in GT3-AM, despite a splash-and-dash for fuel inside the final 10 minutes.
The JUTA Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO I (#71, Julius Adomavičius / Andrius Gelžinis / Jonas Gelžinis) rounded out the overall top five, and collected ‘GT3’ class victory, after a meticulous run. The Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II (#34, Johannes Dr. Kirchhoff / Max Edelhoff / Tim Müller) had also been on course for a top five finish at Spa-Francorchamps, and even led the race outright on Saturday, but eventually fell back after suffering several punctures, the third coming in the closing moments of the event. The Audi nevertheless managed to retain 3rd in GT3-AM.
The SAINTéLOC Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II (#26, Olivier Esteves / Pierre-Yves Paque / Christian Kelders / Simon Gachet) survived two separate clashes at La Source – the second of which earning the Audi a 30-second time penalty – to finish 7th overall, and just one lap shy of the GT3-AM class podium. The EBM Porsche 911 GT3 R (#61, Adrian D'Silva / Tanart Sathienthirakul / Jeffrey Kingsley) was the final GT3 runner in the overall top 10 in 9th.
Having finished 8th overall on the road, Red Ant Racing (#903, Ayrton Redant / Bert Redant / Yannick Redant) secured its first 992-AM category win in the 24H SERIES ahead of nearest class rival HRT Performance (#929, Antti Buri / KariPekka Laaksonen / Jim Rautiainen), the latter of which also rounds out the overall top 10. Speed Lover (#979, Olivier Dons / Dominique Bastien) was
eventually classified 3rd in 992-AM after podium contender Porsche Lorient Racing (#912, Philippe Polette / Frederic Lelievre / Jean-François Demorge / Franck Dezoteux / Frédéric Ancel) had to be recovered from the Kemmel Straight in the closing hour.
The result pushes Red Ant Racing to the top of the 992-class European standings, though HRT Performance continues to lead in the Championship of the Continents. Behind the 992 runners, Van Berlo Motorsport by Bas Koeten Racing (#906,
Marcel van Berlo / Bart van Helden / Glenn van Berlo) secured a comfortable 991-class win ahead of nearest rival E2P Racing (#910, Pablo Burguera / Manuel Cintrano / Ben Clucas).
9und11 Racing (#719, Georg Goder / Ralf Oehme / Martin Schlüter) returned to winning ways in GTX after an error-free run with the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup MR. The German team thus secured its second series win in as many outings after taking GTX victory last year in Hockenheim.
Vortex V8 (#701, Lionel Amrouche / Philippe Bonnel / Sebastien Lajoux) survived several spins and front end damage to take 2nd in GTX, while the Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (#710, Kerong Li / JeanFrancois Brunot / Tyler Cooke) completed a sensational recovery drive to finish 3rd in-class. Despite a failed alternator costing the team nearly an hour in repairs
on Saturday, Leipert Motorsport retains its lead in the GTX-class Championship of the Continents standings, albeit by just two points ahead of Vortex V8.
An extraordinary run from the ALFAB Racing McLaren 570S GT4 (#400, Erik Behrens / Daniel Ros) came to naught just a few hours from home with turbocharger failure. GT4-class victory thus went to Team ACP - Tangerine Associates BMW M4 GT4 (#421, Catesby Jones / Wim Spinoy / Steven Thomas) for the second European round in a row, the sister BMW M4 GT4 of Veidec Racing by JJ Motorsport (#422, Hakan Sari / Recep Sari / Arthur Peters) rounding off a strong weekend for the Belgian team in 3rd place.
Between the BMWs, the CWS Engineering Ginetta G56 GT4 (#478, Colin White / Freddie Tomlinson / Mike Simpson) finished a character-building 2nd inclass after suffering ABS failure and two separate punctures.
Words - James Gent
Photos - Petr Fryba