PREVIEW.2019 Hankook 24H PORTIMAO

News | September 30, 2020

This year, the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve will host round four of the European Championship and the second stage of the Championship of the Continents simultaneously. Can Scuderia Praha and Autorama Motorsport continue their recent run of form? Can Porsche Lorient Racing hold on to their championship lead? And could we see AC Motorsport take its first TCE win of the season?

A6 – Who can stop Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha?

2018 A6-PRO in stats…

Polesitter: Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha (#11)
Pole position time: 1m 44.358s
Winning Team: Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha (#11)
Winning Car: Ferrari 488 GT3
Winning Drivers: Matteo Malucelli (ITA), Josef Král (CZE), Jiri Pisarik (CZE)
Laps completed: 586
Fastest Lap: 1m 45.247s – Christopher Haase, Car Collection Motorsport (#32)

2018 A6-AM in stats…
 
Polesitter: SPS automotive performance (#24)
Pole position time: 1m 43.912s
Winning Team: PROsport Performance (#85)
Winning Car: Mercedes-AMG GT3
Winning Drivers: Charles Putman (USA), Charles Espenlaub (USA), Joe Foster (USA), Adam Christodolou (GBR)
Laps completed: 576
Fastest Lap: 1m 45.216s – Adam Christodolou, PROsport Performance (#85)

Heading into this year’s Hankook 12H BRNO, the Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha Ferrari 488 GT3 (#11) was on a roll, having already taken two wins on the trot and looking to cement its hat trick at an event the team had never lost. This weekend, the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook heads to Portimão for ANOTHER race at which GT European Championship standings leaders Jiří Písařík, Josef Kral and Matteo Malucelli remain undefeated.
 
Question is, which of their rivals can step up to break the Ferrari’s run?
 
Certainly fellow prancing horse specialist Wochenspiegel Team Monschau (#22, Georg Weiss / Leonard Weiss / Jochen Krumbach / David Perel) will be in with a shout. The German team has been in front-running form throughout the European season thus far, and even finished 2nd at the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO on its only 24H SERIES entry two years ago. Perennial rival Herberth Motorsport will be another tough opponent. The former Champion of the Continents has already collected two A6-Am class wins this season, finishing on Scuderia Praha’s fetlocks on both occasions and putting the Bavarian outfit just two points adrift of the #11 Ferrari in the GT European Championship standings. Interestingly, and for the first time in series history, Herberth brings a three car line-up to Portimão. Long-time teammates Daniel Allemann, Robert and Alfred Renauer, and Ralf Bohn line-up once again in the A6-Pro entered #91 Porsche, while Edward Lewis Brauner, Stefan Aust, Klaus Rader, Klaus Bachler and Hans Wehrmann (#93) and Taki Konstantinou, Alfred Renauer – again – Jürgen Häring, Tim Müller (#94) team up in the A6-Am class.
 
Another A6-Am runner to keep an eye on will be CP Racing (#85). Reigning 24H GT SERIES Drivers’ Champions Charles Putman, Charles Espenlaub and Joe Foster (joined this weekend by Shane Lewis) have collected three class podiums from four outings so far in 2019, and will be targeting their first A6-Am class win since last year’s Hankook 24H COTA USA. A potentially well-timed one at that, given that the American team lies just five points adrift in the GT European Championship standings.
 
Fellow Mercedes runners IDEC SPORT RACING (#17) – our interview with whom you can read about HERE – bring an extended driver line-up to Portimão, father-son duo Patrice and Paul Lafargue, and Dimitri Enjalbert teaming up with IDEC SPORT sporting director Nicolas Minassian in the former European Le Mans Series race winner’s first series outing since the 2017 Hankook 24H COTA USA. The French outfit will be looking for a good race in Portugal, poor luck and mechanical woes having dropped the series stalwarts down the order on the AMG’s last outings in Mugello and Spa.
 
GPX Racing meanwhile (#24) makes its first race start since the Porsche 991 GT3 R’s maiden run at January’s Hankook 24H DUBAI. The Emirati team is also a former A6-Am class podium finisher at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, so don’t discount a strong result.
 
Car Collection Motorsport (#34, Johannes Dr. Kirchhoff / Gustav Edelhoff / Elmar Grimm / Ingo Vogler / Max Edelhoff) enters just one Audi R8 LMS for the first time this season, meaning the sister #88, which started the year with an outright win in the Hankook 24H DUBAI, is unlikely to retain its lead in the Championship of the Continents GT standings. There’s still plenty for Car Collection to shoot for in Portimão though. The #34 Audi has already taken two class podiums this season with, no doubt, eyes on the car’s first class win since in over a year.
 
Rounding out the A6 line-up is Toksport WRT (#15, Hendrik Still / Joachim Bölting), the race and rally specialists making its season debut with the Mercedes-AMG GT3.

SPX and SP4 – Is Leipert’s three-pointed star in the driving seat?

2018 SPX in stats…

Polesitter: Manthey Racing (#912)
Pole position time: 1m 45727s
Winning Team: Manthey Racing (#912)
Winning Car: Porsche 991 GT3 R
Winning Drivers: Robert Renauer (GER), Alfred Renauer (GER), Ralf Bohn (GER), Mathieu Jaminet (FRA)
Laps completed: 577
Fastest Lap: 1m 47.317s – Robert Renauer, Manthey Racing (#912)

 

Among the lead contenders in the Championship of the Continents standings, Leipert Motorsport (#710) returns for its second crack at class honours this year. Interestingly, though the Italian team took SPX class victory in the opening round in Dubai with a Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo Evo, the Raging Bull is benched for Portimão in favour of a Mercedes-AMG GT4. Fittingly, Mercedes-AMG ambassador Thomas Jaeger joins Harald Schlotter, Marcus Påverud, Ilmari Korpivaara and Yury Wagner on driver detail.

Another returnee is Cor Euser, who teams up for the weekend with fellow endurance racing legend Jim Briody and Einar Thorsen. The eponymous Cor Euser Racing (#717) makes its third start of the year and its first since Spa, but only its second with the team’s brand new MARC II V8 (the now retired BMW M3 finished 5th in-class in Dubai). The reigning A3-class Champions of the Continents will be hoping for a cleaner race in Portimão, the MARC’s run in Spa ending after just 25 laps.

QSR Racingschool (#454, Jimmy de Breucker / Lance Bergstein) endured a tough race in Brno on its only European Championship outing so far this season, although a 3rd place finish in Dubai does keeps the team in contention for the GT4-class Championship of the Continents. Another title contender that suffered a character-building weekend in Spa, ‘SP3’ regulars CWS Engineering (#378) will hope to claim its first win of the season with the Ginetta G55 in Portugal.

The sole SP4 entry – and the category’s first since last October’s Hankook 12H SPA, incidentally – will be one to keep an eye on too. The AMG Driving Academy-entered, newly debuted Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo (#500) will feature Mercedes-AMG factory drivers Maximilian Buhk, Hubert Haupt and Kenneth Heyer on the driver line-up, while Charles Putman pulls A6 double duty. Reigning Hankook 24H DUBAI winner Rik Breukers meanwhile makes his fifth start of the season for his fourth team, representing his third different manufacturer. Busy year for the young Dutchman!

991 – Can Porsche Lorient Racing maintain its title lead?

2018 991 in stats…
 
Polesitter: Forch Racing (#189)
Pole position time: 1m 48.798s
Winning Team: Forch Racing (#189)
Winning Car: Porsche 991-II Cup
Winning Drivers: Patrick Eisemann (GER), Stefan Oschmann (GER), Christopher Bauer (GER), Robert Lukas (POL)
Laps completed: 553
Fastest Lap: 1m 49.562s – Robert Lukas, Forch Racing (#189)

 

Mechanical woes and accident damage scuppered Porsche Lorient Racing’s #912 entry in Spa, and, unusually, the French team’s #911 Porsche 991-II Cup (Jean-François Demorge / Gilles Blasco / Lionel Amrouche / Gavin Pickering / Frédéric Ancel) will be flying solo in the Algarve. The car’s first class win of the season – and the team’s second – would certainly help maintain the lead in the 991-class European Championship standings.
 
Besting Speed Lover however (#778, Dominique Bastien / TBA) will be difficult. The reigning SPX-class European Champion took its first category win of the season last time out in Brno, narrowly besting DUWO Racing (#909, Andrey Mukovoz / Sergey Peregudov / Stanislav Sidoruk) in the process [Hankook 12H BRNO. What happened? (GT)]. The latter will also be in action.
 
Also keen to grab its first ‘991’ win of the season will be MRS-GT Racing (#980, Alex Autumn / Nicola Michelon / Dorian Mansilla), which makes its first series entry since Spa. Crucially, the result could put the German team ahead in the 991-class Championship of the Continents standings, given that the #980 Porsche is just two points in arrears after finishing a strong 2nd in Dubai.

GT4 – Champion vs. champion; Parkalgar on home turf

2018 GT4 in stats…
 
Polesitter: Fox Motorsport (#47)
Pole position time: 1m 54.592s
Winning Team: Fox Motorsport (#47)
Winning Car: Audi R8 LMS GT4
Winning Drivers: Jamie Stanley (GBR), Glenn Sherwood (GBR), Ben Clucas (GBR), Andrew Perry (GBR)
Laps completed: 529
Fastest Lap: 1m 55.164s – Jamie Stanley, Fox Motorsport (#47)

 

PROsport Performance’s maiden season with the new Aston Martin Vantage GT4 (#1, Rodrigue Gillion / Nico Verdonck) [LINK. On the grid with Aston Martin Vantage GT4] is off to a good start. The reigning 24H GT SERIES titleholders have amassed two class podiums (Mugello and Brno) and a win (Spa), plus a healthy lead in the GT4-class European Championship standings. Competition will be tough, however, against fellow reigning titleholders Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport (#50, Martin Kroll / Thomas Jäger / Michael Fischer / Michael Schrey / Alexander Prinz), which won last year’s 24H TCE SERIES outright in both championships and in commanding fashion. In its maiden 24H GT SERIES campaign, the BMW M4 GT4 has already taken its first GT4 category win in Mugello.
 
Also in the running will be series debutants and LMP3 specialists, Team Virage (#417, CO. Jones / Peter Peters / Thomas Padovani). This marks the first time PROsport’s Aston Martin goes mano-y-mano on-track in the 24H SERIES with another Vantage GT4.
 
It’s been a full year meanwhile since Parkalgar Racing Team’s (#412) last series entry. Interestingly, the Portuguese outfit, now running a Mercedes-AMG GT4, walked away with the SP3-GT4 win on home turf in 2017.

TCR – Can AC Motorsport take its first win? Or will Autorama Motorsport continue its run

2018 TCR in stats…

Polesitter: Kawasaki Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (#155)
Pole position time: 1m 55.504s
Winning Team: Kawasaki Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (#155)
Winning Car: CUPRA TCR
Winning Drivers: Kristian Jepsen (DEN), Jan Sorensen (DEN), Kari-Pekka Laaksonen (FIN), Antti Buri (FIN)
Laps completed: 529
Fastest Lap: 1m 56.880s – Antti Buri, Kawasaki Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (#155)

 

All eyes in the TCE ranks will be on current standings leader Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, Stefan Tanner / Ralf Henggeler / Marlon Menden / Yannick Mettler / Jérôme Ogay) at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve. The Swiss team, which started the season with victory in Dubai [LINK. How to win the 24H DUBAI] will be gunning for its fifth consecutive podium of the year in Portimão as well as its fourth TCE class win of 2019. Interestingly, for the first time this year, the Volkswagen Golf GTI will be joined by a sister entry, a CUPRA TCR (#114).

Also eying the TCE top step will be reigning TCR European Champions Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101), series newboy Luc Breukers – son of team owner Ivo and brother of two-time Rolex 24 at Daytona class winner Rik – heading the driver line-up alongside Klaus Kresnik and hometown hero, Nuno Corvo. Although just two points adrift in the TCE Championship of the Continents, the CUPRA TCR has some catching up to do in the European standings after an ill-fated season so far. A repeat of its win at Spa-Francorchamps would certainly help…

Autorama’s closest rival in the European Championship, AC Motorsport (#188, Stephane Perrin / James Kaye / Mathieu Detry), has proven itself a force to be reckoned with in TCE this season. The Audi RS3 LMS has led laps in every race in 2019 and claimed podiums finishes at both Mugello and Spa. A first win of the season might also heal the wounds left by brake failure in the closing stages in Brno and a fire in the rear wheel arch that eroded a potential win in Dubai.

Series stalwart Bas Koeten Racing brings a brand new alliance to the series at the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO, doing so with a TOPCAR sport-entered CUPRA TCR (#131). Reigning TCR-class European Drivers’ Champion Antti Buri and Kari-Pekka Laaksonen team up with Julien Apotheloz and Swiss compatriot Fabian Danz, the latter of whom leads Overall TCE Drivers’ standings in both the European Championship and the Championship of the Continents.

Completing the TCR line-up is Nordschleife Racing (#172, Guillaume Roman /Michel Derue / Michel Sallenbach / Thierry Boyer), the French outfit that enters the only Peugeot 308 Racing Cup on the grid for its maiden series outing. Interestingly, the Peugeot will be the first pre-2018, ‘TCR-L’ entered machine to take part in an official 24H SERIES session this season.

A3 and CUP1 – Champion elect vs. Champion elect vs. Champion elect?

2018 A3 in stats…
 
N/A

 

2018 CUP1 in stats…
 
Polesitter: Hofor Racing powered by Bonk Motorsport (#131)
Pole position time: 2m 02.165s
Winning Team: Hofor Racing powered by Bonk Motorsport (#131)
Winning Car: BMW M235i Racing Cup
Winning Drivers: Martin Kroll (SUI), Michael Schrey (GER), Michael Fischer (AUT), Bernd Küpper (GER), Gustav Engljaehringer (AUT)
Laps completed: 501
Fastest Lap: 2m 01.347s – Michael Fischer, Hofor Racing powered by Bonk Motorsport (#131)

 

After two difficult races in Mugello and Spa, Synchro Motorsport (#676) finally took its first A3-class win of the season last time out in Brno. Despite difficulties, the former 24H TCE SERIES champions collected the final podium spot in the opening two rounds of the European Championship, meaning the FK8-spec Honda Civic Type-R now holds a comfortable lead in the A3 standings. Team boss Alyn James and series stalwart Daniel Wheeler will be joined by British Touring Car Championship race winner, and works Honda driver, Daniel Cammish.

Ironically, though they are both fighting for outright CUP1 honours in Portugal, both the BMW M240i Racing Cups of fun-M Motorsport (#802, Simon Klemund / Mike Skeen / Mark Brummond) and Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport (#869, Martin Kroll / Nicole Holzer / Axel Burghardt / Michael Bonk simultaneously hold commanding leads in their respective title chases. The former makes its series return as the CUP1 standings leader in the TCE Championship of the Continents following a category win in Dubai. The latter’s CUP1 win in Mugello meanwhile means the Swiss squad currently holds an advantage in the CUP1 TCE European Championship standings.

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