This year’s Hankook 24H BARCELONA draws the 24H SERIES' European Championship to a close for 2022. But who, or indeed what, should you be keeping an eye on this weekend?
Words – James Gent
Images – Petr Frýba
Introduced for 2022, points for 24-hour races are now paid twice: once after the first 12 hours, and, should teams make the chequered flag, once again after the full 24 hours. With current standings leader Phoenix Racing sitting just 14 points ahead of nearest rival CP Racing - who in turn is just ahead of Car Collection Motorsport in the GT3-AM ranks - heading into the final European round of the season, a poor race for either the #18 Audi R8 LMS or the #85 Mercedes-AMG GT3 truly could swing the title fight in either direction.
Amazingly, as radiolemans.com’s Joe Bradley explains on page 49, series frontrunner Herberth Motorsport has yet to finish on the podium so far in 2022, an ‘injustice’ the 2017 Overall GT Teams’ ‘Continents’ champion will want to remedy in Barcelona.
Should they go one better and finish on the top step, Ralf Bohn, Daniel Allemann and Alfred Renauer would also make history by becoming only the second, third and fourth drivers to win the Hankook 24H BARCELONA four times, equaling the record of Spain’s Òscar Nogués, who won the event in ’02, ’03, ’04 and ’09.
On top of that, a win for Ralf, Daniel and Alfred – who will compete with Alfred’s twin brother and fellow team principal Robert, a two-time event winner himself – they would become the first teammates to win two 24H BARCELONAs outright, back-to-back, Enric and Jordi Codony, Anselm Llovera and Nogués having last done so with Team Codony in 2002 and 2003. Can they do it? Well, as it stands, Herberth Motorsport is the only team to-date to have won the Hankook 24H BARCELONA outright three times, so, yes, we’re guessing they have a decent shot!
While the first five editions of the 24 Horas de Barcelona were won by four different manufacturers between 1998 and 2002 (check out our Hall of Fame on page 14 for those details), remarkably, only two manufacturers – Renault and SEAT – finished on the overall podium at all between 2002 and 2009.
In a demonstrative nod to the event’s revival under CREVENTIC, since 2011, eight different manufacturers have taken outright victory at the Hankook 24H BARCELONA, and 11 have scored at least one overall podium finish.
So far, Porsche has both the highest number of outright event wins – three, all with Herberth Motorsport (2016, 2018 and 2021) – and podiums (eight), with Mercedes next up on two (2013, Hofor Racing; 2015 HP Racing). Thereafter, BMW (2011, Schubert Motorsport); McLaren (2012, Lapidus Racing); Ferrari (2014, Scuderia Praha); Ginetta (2017, NM Racing Team); and Lamborghini (2019, Barwell Motorsport) have each taken one win apiece.
The stats suggest then that a Porsche win in Barcelona is the most likely. Having said that, no manufacturer has won the 24H BARCELONA twice in succession since SEAT’s dominant run between 2005 and 2009. Let’s also not forget that Audi, which already has three wins to its name this season courtesy of the R8 LMS, has yet to win in Barcelona…
Few could argue that Red Ant Racing has enjoyed a phenomenal run in its maiden 24H SERIES season. Having taken two class podium finishes in Dubai, the Belgian squad followed that up with category wins for its #903 Porsche in Mugello, Spa-Francorchamps and Portimão, and the runners-up spot for its #904 992 GT3 Cup at Hockenheim. Red Ant Racing even finished on the overall podium last time out at Portimão.
Series staple Red Camel-Jordans.nl meanwhile has enjoyed a similarly impressive run of consistency, the Porsche 992 GT3 Cup kicking off its season with a ‘992-Pro’ podium in Dubai followed up by class wins in Mugello, Spa-Francorchamps, and the Hockenheimring. A broken driveshaft may have ended its race early in Portimão, but the Dutch team had nevertheless completed sufficient race distance to secure 3rd in-class.
That collectively leaves Red Camel-Jordans.nl on 74 points and the #903 Red Ant Racing Porsche just ONE point behind on 73 points. In short, this year’s Hankook 24H BARCELONA will decide the 992 Teams’ championship.
Last time out in Portimão, and after an unfortunate run of bad luck, Leipert Motorsport finally secured its first GTX class win of the season. And, bizarrely, given that, heading into the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO, just a single point separated Leipert Motorsport, the RD Signs – Siauliai racing team, and reigning GTX Teams’ champion Vortex V8, this win was the first for any of the title contenders thus far in 2022. PK Carsport took a commanding first win for the Audi R8 LMS GT2 in Dubai, a GTX win that was emulated by HRT Performance in Mugello, a returning 9und11 Racing at Spa-Francorchamps, and Spain’s E2P Racing at the Hockenheimring, Leipert Motorsport finally breaking its duck last time out in Portimão.
Sadly, class wins were seemingly on the cards for the GTX title protagonists until misfortune struck, repeatedly. Though the Lithuanian team was runner-up in Mugello, RD Signs retired early at Spa-Francorchamps after a heavy impact against the barriers at Raidillon, and mechanical gremlins – drivetrain and electrical – ended up eliminating the Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo in sight of the flag at Hockenheim and Portimão while on-course for a class win. Leipert Motorsport meanwhile, which didn’t compete at Mugello, lost an hour to alternator failure at Spa-Francorchamps, and, like its Lithuanian contemporary, came close to victory in Hockenheim only for overheating issues to strike.
Two points between the pair could easily be eradicated at the Hankook 24H BARCELONA…
A disastrous event at Portimão aside, 2022 has nevertheless been an impressive season for Team ACP – Tangerine Associates. The Belgian squad started its year with back-to-back wins in Mugello and Spa-Francorchamps, and though the BMW M4 GT4 did not compete at Hockenheim, even the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO, almost half of which was spent in the garage locating the source of an electrical problem, ended with 3rd in-class after a character-building recovery. It’s looking increasingly likely then that, with a solid race under its belt at Barcelona, Team ACP will be be crowned GT4 Teams’ champion in the 24H SERIES this season. This would, quite incredibly, be the fourth time in as many years, that a team running a BMW M4 GT4 has done so.
Last year, Canada’s ST Racing, which returns to action this weekend with its new BMW M4 GT3, secured both GT4 honours and the Overall GT Teams’ championship with its BMW M4 GT4, just as Team Avia Sorg Rennsport had taken the ‘Continents’ crown with its own M4 in 2019 and 2020. Makes you wonder which brand can break the GT4 streak in 2023, doesn’t it…
Alongside its juggernaut-like control of the 24H BARCELONA between 2005 and 2009, Spain’s biggest carmaker also has a pretty impressive TCR record at the event too. Indeed, since the category’s introduction to the 24H SERIES for 2016, SEAT/CUPRA have taken all but one win at the Hankook 24H BARCELONA in that time.
Then-reigning 24H SERIES champion Duel Racing got the balling rolling with its SEAT León Cup Racer in 2016, with Team Bleekemolen taking the class win with a León TCR in 2017. Monlau Competición and TOPCAR Sport then took TCR honours in 2018 and 2019 respectively with CUPRA. Fittingly, Overall TCE Teams’ champion Autorama Motorsport brought SEAT/CUPRA’s streak to a close with a 1-2 finish with its Volkswagen Golf GTI last year.
Can CUPRA regain its momentum at this year’s event? Well, standings leader BBR has taken four wins from five starts with CUPRA so far this year, and Holmgaard Motorsport took its first series win at the Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS with a CUPRA Leon Competición TCR. Safe to assume then that CUPRA will feature heavily in the fight for TCR victory.
Fans of the ‘24 Horas de Barcelona’ in its original guise may not be too surprised to read this, but between 1998 and 2009, when Montmeló’s biggest endurance event was run largely as touring car affair for local teams, Spanish squads locked out the podium every single time.
And while international teams have featured more prominently since 2011, Spanish teams have, nevertheless, remained a focal point in the touring car ranks at their home event. RAIL EQUIP by TOTCAR Sport finished 3rd in TCR last year behind Autorama Motorsport, while event regular Baporo Motorsport finished runners-up to TOPCAR Sport in 2019, as it had done to Duel Racing in 2016. Barcelona-based Monlau Competición finished 3rd overall at the TCE-only Hankook 24H BARCELONA in 2017, and, in a collaborative effort with CUPRA Racing, took TCR victory in 2018. Prior to TCR’s introduction in 2016, Monlau also featured on the touring-car-focused ‘A3T’ podium in 2014 and 2015, while PCR Sport and RCA Sport represented Spain when they took a class win and an ‘A3T’ podium in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
In short, only in 2013 has a Spanish team failed to make the touring car podium at the Hankook 24H BARCELONA, New Zealand's Motorsport Services taking victory that year ahead of The Netherlands’ NKPP-YMOR Racing and Switzerland’s Hofor / Kuepperracing in A3T. The highest placed Spanish entry? Monlau again, which finished 6th and 7th in-class.