Heading into the 2020 COPPA FLORIO 12H Sicily, can Herberth Motorsport and Autorama Motorsport take their third respective wins of the season? Which team will emerge victorious from an all-Italian ‘991’ class? And could a ‘GT4’ team end up leading the championship outright on Sunday?
Though it comes dangerously close to sounding clichéd, CREVENTIC’s arrival in Sicily this weekend can genuinely be considered an historic moment.
This weekend marks the first time in 39 years that the ‘Coppa Florio’ will be run as an official event, and revives a tradition dating back an almost dizzying 115 years. On top of that, the COPPA FLORIO 12H Sicily also marks the return of international motorsport to the Autodromo di Pergusa for the first time since 2012.
A cursory glance at the event’s provisional entry list though suggests these will be not the only news items of note this weekend. Herberth Motorsport’s return after a one-race hiatus means competition for both the ‘GT3’ top prize and the Overall GT Teams’ crown remain wide open. A four-car line-up from DINAMIC MOTORSPORT, plus an all-Italian field in ‘991’, all but assure the hometown crowd a ‘local win’. And though Autorama Motorsport currently leads the way in ‘TCR’, AC Motorsport, Red Camel-Jordans.nl, and even the returning Vmax-Engineering mean victory number three is far from a foregone conclusion for the TCE championship leader.
As we said at the beginning, clichéd or otherwise, 9-10-11 October could prove an historic weekend for CREVENTIC.
24H SERIES Europe GT standings (after four rounds)
1. Speed Lover (#978, 991, Porsche) – 51 points
2. Herberth Motorsport (#92, GT3, Porsche) – 47 points
3. PROsport Racing (#401, GT4, Aston Martin) – 43 points
4. Herberth Motorsport (#91, GT3, Porsche) – 38 points
5. Mühlner Motorsport (#921, 991, Porsche) – 28 points
24H SERIES Europe TCE standings (after four rounds)
1. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, TCR, Volkswagen) – 68 points
2. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#1, TCR, Volkswagen) – 56 points
3. Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101, TCR, CUPRA) – 34 points
4. TOPCAR Sport (#131, TCR, CUPRA) – 28 points
AC Motorsport (#188, TCR, CUPRA) – 28 points
Italy’s DINAMIC MOTORSPORT is sure to be among the key players in ‘GT3’, the Italian team having registered four entries for the inaugural COPPA FLORIO 12H Sicily. Alongside a loan Porsche 911-II Cup (we’ll come back to that), DINAMIC, which took 3rd in-class on its maiden 24H SERIES outing this year in Dubai, has also entered three Porsche 911 GT3 Rs.
Reigning 24H SERIES Europe GT Drivers’ champion Matteo Malucelli makes his first start with CREVENTIC since last year’s Hankook 24H BARCELONA and will team with Roberto Pampanini, Stefano Monaco and Mauro Calamia in the team’s lead #7 Porsche. Calamia meanwhile will pull double duty in the sister #794 911 with Nicolas Stürzinger and Amedeo Pampanini, both of which, interestingly, have also been entered in the team’s #793 GT3 R alongside series newcomer, Simone Iaquinta. Interestingly, the 2020 COPPA FLORIO 12H Sicily also marks Stürzinger’s first start with CREVENTIC since the Swiss youngster took on the Hankook 24H BARCELONA with SPORTEC Motorsport in 2016!
Herberth Motorsport (#92) and Collection Motorsport (#88) make their respective returns to the series in Sicily. The latter makes its first start since the season-opener in Dubai, at which the #88 Audi R8 LMS, a former event winner, finished as runner-up. Don’t be too surprised to see Car Collection Motorsport, which this weekend teams Le Mans class winner Pierre Kaffer together with Michael Doppelmayr, Elia Erhart and Hendrik Still, at the sharp end at Pergusa.
Herberth Motorsport has already taken two outright victories in 2020, and despite its one-round hiatus, lies just four points drift in the 24H SERIES Europe Overall GT Teams’. Concurrently, Tim Müller and Taki Konstantinou lead the way in the Overall GT Drivers’ standings, and will look to increase their advantage this weekend in the #92 Porsche 911 GT3 R alongside Jürgen Häring and team co-principal Alfred Renauer. Interestingly, twin brother Robert will compete with a rival team in Sicily…
GPX Racing (#36) likewise makes its 24H SERIES return at the Autodromo di Pergusa. The Emirati team, which this weekend pays tribute to Gulf Racing with a special livery on its Porsche 991 GT3 R, last took the green flag with CREVENTIC earlier this year in Dubai, but managed only three laps before an enormous accident on the Autodrome’s front straight. Team regulars Jordan Grogor and Frederic Fatien will be joined by Mathieu Jaminet and Robert Renauer, who last teamed together to secure the new generation Porsche 991 GT3 R at the 2018 Hankook 24H PORTIMAO.
MP Motorsport (#19) makes its first series start since securing GT3-AM class victory at this year’s Hankook 24H DUBAI, and once again teams Henk de Jong with Jaap van Lagen in the Mercedes-AMG GT3. In Sicily, the Dutch compatriots will partner two-time Daytona 24 Hours class winner, and 2019 Hankook 24H DUBAI winner, Rik Breukers.
On its 24H SERIES debut at Monza, Italy’s MP Racing (#58) finished a solid 4th overall with its Mercedes-AMG GT3, a result Gostner family members Thomas, David and Corinna – our interview about whom you can read HERE – will no doubt want to beat at their second ‘home race’ of the year.
CP Racing meanwhile (#85), which will also run a Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo in Sicily, secured GT3-class victory last time out at the Hankook 16H HOCKENHEIMRING. While not the overall win the team was hoping for, the result nevertheless marked the first victory for former Overall GT Drivers’ champions Charles Putman, Charles Espenlaub and Joe Foster since COTA in 2018, and has also pulled the trio, plus teammate Shane Lewis, to within six points of GT3 standings leader, Herberth Motorsport.
Interestingly, if you scroll through to our ‘TCR’ runners, you’ll notice that Charles Espenlaub and Shane Lewis are pulling double duty in Sicily…
Barring a last-minute entry, race fans at (and/or watching) the COPPA FLORIO 12H Sicily will be assured a hometown victor, given that all five entrants hail from Italy.
Chances are high though that series debutant Fulgenzi Racing will also be readily in the mix. The Ancona-based Porsche specialist is the sole team in ‘991’ to have entered two 991-II Cups. Team owner Enrico Fulgenzi will partner Italian compatriots Giosué Rizzuto, Gianfranco Bronzini and Gianluca Spata, and Japan’s Shintaro Akatsu in the lead #917. Across in the sister #923 Cup car, Pablo Otero and Walter Palazzo will drive with Jeroen Bleekemolen. The Dutchman, one of only three men to have won the vaunted Hankook 24H DUBAI three times outright, is already a two-time class winner in the 24H SERIES in 2020.
Alongside its three-car GT3 entries, DINAMIC Motorsport has also entered a Porsche 911-II Cup (#907) for the COPPA FLORIO 12H Sicily, again with Simone Iaquinta, Matteo Malucelli, Stefano Monaco and Roberto Pampanini at the wheel.
Palermo-based TEMPO S.R.L (#916, Giuseppe Nicolosi / Michele Merendino / Davide di Benedetto / Simone Patrinicola) makes its 24H SERIES debut this weekend in Sicily, as does Italian GT Championship regular, Duell Race (#918). The latter in particular will be one to keep an eye on, featuring as it does Overall GT Drivers’ championship contender Eric Mouez alongside teammates Steven Liquorish and Alessandro Giardelli.
Competition across in ‘GT4’ is likely to be intense between Team Avia Sorg Rennsport (#451, Alvaro Fontes / José Manuel de los Milagros / Sergio Paulet / Carlos Martinez de Campos) and PROsport Racing (#401, Nico Verdonck / Rodrigue Gillion / Tom Heeren). Both German outfits have one GT4-class win apiece in the 24H SERIES so far this year in Portimao and Hockenheim respectively, and are now separated by just 10 points in the category’s championship standings. On top of that, a good result for the #401 Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 could even see PROsport Racing take the lead in the Overall GT Teams’ standings.
Heading into Sicily, the fight in TCR remains as close as ever between perennial rivals Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112), Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101), and AC Motorsport (#188).
Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing has secured two TCR wins in 2020 thus far at Portimão and Hockenheim, and now holds the top two spots in the 24H SERIES Europe Overall TCE Teams’ standings. Though the Swiss outfit is bringing only one Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR to Sicily, don’t be too surprised to see current standings leader (and series rookie) Miklas Born, Constantin Kletzer, and reigning 24H SERIES Continents Overall TCE Drivers’ champion Fabian Danz at the sharp end.
Father-son duo Ivo and Luc Breukers team up once again in the Red Camel-Jordans.nl CUPRA TCR at Pergusa. Fittingly, the pair also took the Dutch team’s sole win of 2020 thus far with a fighting recovery drive at Monza.
Though AC Motorsport has slipped away in the championship fight since taking its maiden TCE win earlier this year in Dubai, the Belgian-entered Audi RS3 LMS has remained a podium contender at every 24H SERIES race since then. Don’t expect Sicily to be any different, especially when former BTCC class champion James Kaye will team with Ricky Coomber andMarcus Menden.
Vmax-Engineering (#105) enters the field’s only Opel Astra TCR at the Autodromo di Pergusa, and also makes its first start with CREVENTIC since last year’s TCR SPA 500. As he did at Spa-Francorchamps, Charles Espenlaub once again takes the wheel of the Astra alongside his CP Racing GT3 duties, as does American compatriot and Daytona 24 Hours class winner, Shane Lewis.
A ‘GTX’-class podium finisher already in 2020, JR Motorsport (#703, Ted van Vliet / Willem Meijer) returns to action this weekend for its first start in the TCE division since the 2018 Hankook 12H SPA. Avelon Formula (#45, Ivan Bellarosa / Guglielmo Belotti) and DF Racing (#206, Santi de Filippis / Roberto de Filippis / Salvatore Vinciguerra) meanwhile round out the COPPA FLORIO 12H Sicily field. The Wolf GB08 Tornado and Ligier JS51 respectively will compete in the specialist ‘PX’ class and mark the first time a prototype has competed at a 12-hour CREVENTIC event since the 2018 Hankook 12H SILVERSTONE.
Images courtesy of Petr Frýba and Boost Media