SPS automotive performance finished a fighting 6th overall on its return to the 24H SERIES this past weekend at Circuit Paul Ricard, but was a podium finish on the cards?
Stephan Sohn, team principal at SPS automotive performance, believes the German team could well have finished higher than its eventual 6th place at last weekend’s Hankook 12H CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD had an accident in the very early stages not cost the #20 Mercedes-AMG GT3 time in the pits.
A great start from series debutant Christian Hook meant SPS automotive performance was already battling for 6th overall with Vortex V8’s Olivier Gomez when the newly re-liveried Mercedes and the GTX-entered lightweight French sports car made contact on lap six. The collision sent the Vortex to the pits with broken suspension and rear bodywork, and while the #20 Mercedes managed to continue, it too had suffered damage to its front right diffuser.
Repairs were made to the component during the first two Code 60 caution periods, allowing the car to continue circulating in the top five. Shortly after half distance however, SPS elected to bring the Mercedes into the garage to replace the front end in its entirity. A lightning-fast turnaround meant the #20 AMG was only on pit road for nine minutes, but the repair time and compromised performance prior to that effectively removed SPS automotive performance from podium contention. Valentin Pierburg eventually brought the AMG home in 6th place, 10 laps down on the leaders.
“The car was very good all weekend and the team did a flawless job,” explained Stephan Sohn in the official team release. “Unfortunately, the unscheduled repair stop cost us a little, but these things happen in racing. We could have been looking at a better result, but we can still be happy with our performance.”
Despite its issues on-track, SPS automotive performance’s 6th at Circuit Paul Ricard marked a solid return to 24H SERIES action for the German team, its first since the 2020 Hankook 24H DUBAI. A regular entrant in the CREVENTIC-run endurance series since 2014, SPS automotive performance won that year’s Hankook 12H HUNGARY overall, and since then has secured outright pole position at three 24H SERIES events and taken two further class victories en-route to 3rd in the 24H SERIES Continents A6-class championship in 2018.
- Images – Petr Frýba