Bohemia Energy Racing with Scuderia Praha have ended the first five hours of the Hankook 12H Silverstone at the head of the pack and one of two cars on the lead lap for the Saturday morning restart. The Ferrari 488 GT3 of Jiri Pisarik, Josef Kral and Matteo Maluchelli drove a measured 113 laps in the opening session to secure the pole for part 2 in steadily deteriorating conditions on Friday afternoon at the home of the British Grand Prix.
Only the Forsch Racing Porsche 991 GT3 R of Zeljko Drmic, Patrick Eisemann and Robert Lukas could hold onto the pace of the Ferrari in a race which started cold, became wet and ended in sodden darkness. The #29 911 will start on the outside of the front row when the action recommences at 10:30 on Saturday morning.
Despite the presence of two Ginetta G57 P2 prototypes in the field the final spot on the provisional podium is also held by a GT3 car, the #963 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan of brothers Rolf Ineichen and Mark Ineichen who share with Franck Perera and British GT racer Phil Keen though the Lamborghini will start the 7 hour final segment a lap down.
Early pace from the #4 Simpson Motorsport Ginetta G57 started the race off as expected. The leading prototype shot off at the head of the field with its team mate picking its way through traffic and haring off in pursuit. As the weather deteriorated though the Steve Tandy, Mike Simpson and Bob Berridge driven machine began to slow, mechanical grip becoming much more important than aerodynamic grip as corners became treacherous. Throw in four Code 60 full course cautions and the charge from the LS7 powered prototypes fell away and fourth was the best that the 24H Proto cars could achieve.
Still it could be worse, a succession of problems for the #6 Simpson Motorsport Ginetta, shared by John Corbett, Andreas Laskaratos and Neale Muston became more numerous and more frequent as the night closed in. Already looking very edgy and hard to handle in the second hour, the G57 was being hassled by the #47 Fox Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT through the complex at Maggots and Becketts. Only the much greater punch out of the corners and phenomenal top speed of the prototype spared the driving trio the indignity of being passed on track by the only GT4 car in the field.
Problems of pace became secondary in hour three though as in the gathering gloom and very cold rain, the Ginetta arrived on the hangar straight with mud and grass being shed, a fairly major but unseen accident for Neale Muston sending the #6 car to the garage for an extended visit. The team would finish the five hours on track, which spares them a 10 lap penalty for working on the car overnight, but stone dead last of the runners and 26 laps down.
All is not lost for the #6 though as on best lap times, in the wet, the car could recoup 17 laps in seven hours. With clearer weather for Saturday it would be a shock of the prototype wasn’t troubling the top five by close of play.
Nor was the Simpson Motorsport car the only machine to have problems in the sparse 24H Proto grid. The #97 Krafft Racing Norma M20 FC with Regis Tref, Norbert Sauvain and Karl Pedraza at the wheel suffered several lazy spins over the course of the race but the highlight, or lowlight depending on your perspective, of the race was a scary moment at Stowe in the first hour. If help was given it wasn’t seen but broken suspension and a long wait in the gravel was the result as the little CN protoype rotated and beached in the Stowe out gravel. The Krafft car was in close company with two other cars at the time, the most likely candidate for a bump being the PROsport Performance Mercedes-AMG GT3, with broken suspension and a trip on a flat bed the result. The car did get back out failry swifty and placed 18th overall by the end of the five hours.
The GT field was therefore clear to take the top three spots, all places filled by A6-Pro entries. The Pro parade continued through fifth and sixth places with the ROFGO Racing Mercedes-AMG GT the best placed of the three-pointed stars. Roald Goethe, regular co-driver Stuart Hall and Daniel Brown started out well despite being hit in the rear by the PROsport Performance machine but as the night came in and the rain came down a minor error saw the rear wheels of the big Benz in the gravel at the Vale. This prompted the code 60 flags for a snatch but the car continued. Sixth went to the Herberth Motorsport Porsche 991 GT3 R, the team’s phenomenal pace in Dubai and at the Nordschliffe notably in abeyance.
A6-Am was topped by Attempto Racing and their Lamborghini Huracan GT3. Steijn Schothorst, Jurgen Krebs and Adrian Amstutz drove a steady race to the top of the class and will start three laps down on the Scuderia Praha Ferrari. Car Collection Motorsport recovered well from their qualifying problems to take second in the A6-Am class with the #33 Audi R8 LMS of Ali Capan, Demitri Parhofer, Isaac Tutumlu Lopez and Jason Baker. In fact they were denied a 2-3 in class at the pause by just 0.452 seconds as Red River Sport with FF Corse, a driver development project from Jonny Mowlem slipped into third in class a lap down on the #33 Car Collection machine, Bonamy Grimes and Ivor Dunbar sharing the driving with the apparently retired Mowlem.
The #34 Car Collection Audi and PROsport Performance Mercedes-AMG took 4th and 5th respectively. Given the mechanics of stopping and starting a race half way through, this clump of Ferrari, Audi and Mercedes forms the chance for restart battles, three cars with their gaps obliterated by parc ferme who can make or lose places at the first corner.
GRT Grasser Racing Team rounded out the A6-Am entries with the #964 machine, 9 laps off the lead but with clear skies and Rik Breukers available, that gap will likely drop in the final seven hours.
The 991 class came next with IDEC Sport Racing taking some solace from a class leading position and lap advantage at the end of the opening segment. The solace was well needed as the #17 Mercedes-AMG run by the team, whose interests also include LMP3 cars and racing yachts, decimated itself against the F1 pit wall down at the Wing, costing the team an hour and twenty minutes in repairs. The Porsche 991-I Cup from the team wasn’t without issues but minor front splitter damage from a grassy moment at Becketts did little to slow the pace of the car of David Abramczyk, Stephane Adler, Michael Blanchemain and Romain Vozniak.
Porsche Laurent Racing took the 2-3 in the 991 class with the #65 of Jean-Francois Demorge, Alain Demorge, Gilles Blasco and Frederic Ancel heading the team car in identical livery.
SPX was the real surprise with the Audi R8 LMS GT of Fox Motorsport finishing over a minute ahead of the only rival in class, the Speed Lover 991 Cup car. The chances of Fox holding onto the lead in class with not one but two 991 cup cars directly behind and on the same lap at the restart though is slim. Jamie Stanley, Glenn Sherwood and Ben Clucas will no doubt do their best if the weather changes again, could well punch back through to class victory.
Problem children in the first five hours include the previously mentioned #6 Ginetta and the crashed but rebuilt IDEC Sport Racing Mercedes. The #64 Porsche Laurient Racing machine retains its class position despite finishing the first five hours in the pits and incurring a ten lap penalty as a result. That’s due to the only class rival behind, the Track-Club entry of Adam Balon, Marcus Jewell and Stuart Ratcliffe also spending the night in the garage receiving attention. Ram Racing were the unluckiest team of all, failing to turn laps in qualifying due to an engine problem which saw both the entered chassis and the spare car packed away and the garage emptied before the rains came.
The Hankook 12H Silverstone resumes at 10:30 on Saturday morning where the GT and Prototype machinery will share the grid with the first 7 hours of the Hankook 24H Silverstone Touring Car race.
1st: #4 Simpson Motorsport Ginetta G57 P2 – Tandy/Berridge/Simpson/Robertson
2nd: #97 Krafft Racing Norma M20 FC – Tref/Sauvain/Pedraza
3rd: #6 Simpson Motorsport Ginetta G57 P2 – Corbett/Muston/Laskaratos/Simpson
1st: #11 Bohemia Energy Racing with Scuderia Praha Ferrari 488 GT3 – Pisarik/Krai/Maluchelli
2nd: #29 Forch Racing Porsche 991 GT3 R – Drmic/Eisemann/Lucas
3rd: #963 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 – Ineichen/Ineichen/Perera/Keen
1st: #66 Attempto Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 – Schothorst/Krebs/Amstuz
2nd: #33 Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 – Capan/Parhoffer/Tutumlu-Lopez/Baker
3rd: #23 Red River Racing with FF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 – Dunbar/Grimes/Molem
1st: #75 IDEC Sport Racing – Abramczyk/Adler/Blanchemain/Vozniak
2nd: #65 Porsche Laurent Racing – Demorge/Demorge/Blasco/Ancel
3rd: #64 Porsche Laurent Racing – Polette/Lellevre/Pontais/Gibon
1st: #47 Fox Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT – Stanley/Sherwood/Clucas
2nd: #78 Speed Lover Porsche 991-I Cup – Denis/Basitien