Former Overall GT Teams’ standings leader ST Racing hopes for improved performance at next month’s Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING.
ST Racing is hoping a return to form at the Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING will get the team’s championship hunt back on-track after a disappointing event at Circuit Paul Ricard.
The Canadian team went into last weekend’s Hankook 12H CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD at the top of the Overall GT Teams’ championship standings, courtesy of class victory at the season opener in Dubai and a 2nd in-class at the Hankook 12H MUGELLO in March. The pace of the BMW M4 GT4 was also evident early on at Circuit Paul Ricard, Jon Miller securing GT4-class pole position on his maiden outing at the French Grand Prix venue.
Wheel hub assembly failure 32 laps into Jon Miller’s first stint though, which cost the team almost 80 minutes in the pits. Later on, head gasket and water pump failure led to a spike in temperature for the 3-litre turbocharged inline four-cylinder. To prevent terminal damage to the BMW powertrain, ST Racing opted instead to retire the #438 BMW shortly before half-distance.
The DNF at Circuit Paul Ricard means ST Racing is now 10 points behind new standings leader DUWO Racing, which took its second runners-up spot of the season in the 991-class at Paul Ricard, and six points behind Vortex V8. The latter’s #701 1.0 lightweight sports car also lost an hour in the pits early on to accident damage at Paul Ricard, but recovered to secure its third consecutive GTX podium finish this season.
Despite the setbacks, ST Racing is hoping for improved fortunes on its maiden run at Hockenheim on 22-23 May.
“This was a disappointing weekend for everyone at ST Racing,” explained Samantha Tan. “Jon [Miller], Chandler [Hull] and I were competing for the first time at Circuit Paul Ricard, and we all got up to speed quickly, running very strong pace during the first two days of practice. After Jon put the car on pole, we were looking forward to a fun, competitive race with our Dubai rival, PROsport Racing. Unfortunately we had two mechanical issues in the first three hours, the second of which put us out of the race altogether. We’ve been unlucky at the last two events, but we prefer to focus on the positives, and we’re looking forward to the next round at the Hockenheimring. I would also like to thank BMW Motorsport for their extremely helpful engineering support this weekend.”
“The week started out really well for our team, and until the second hour of the race, our car was running perfectly,” continued team manager Kenneth Tan. “Our crew had flown to Europe early and spent a week before the race at Circuit Paul Ricard preparing our BMW M4 GT4. After the issues we experienced at Mugello, we wanted to make sure the car ran smoothly at Paul Ricard. As we now know, that wasn’t to be and it was heartbreaking for us to relinquish our GT championship lead.
“Basically, we miscalculated how much more punishing these endurance races are to the car and need to readjust the replacement time of key components. We are still learning from every round of this, our first season of endurance racing, and that can only make us stronger. We have already started refining our car and the whole team cannot wait to get the BMW back on-track for the next race in Hockenheim. As a team, we are more determined than ever to rediscover the top form we showed at the beginning of the year. We will be back!”
With five rounds of the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook left to run this season, the fight for the Overall GT Teams’ title looks set to be a close one. Paul Ricard GT4 class winner PROsport Racing is now only three points behind ST Racing with its Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4, while Herberth Motorsport, which secured its third win at the event on Sunday, is one point further adrift. The Bavarian team’s wins at both Mugello and Circuit Paul Ricard with the #91 Porsche 991 GT3 R is exacerbated only by early retirement in Dubai following an on-track clash with class rival, DINAMIC MOTORSPORT.
- Images – Petr Frýba