Simpson Motorsport and ROFGO Racing are celebrating home victories in the inaugural Hankook 12H Silverstone, the second round of the 2018 24H Series. The 12 hour encounter was also the opening event in the 2018 24H GT Series European Championship and 2018 24H Proto European Championship which runs at all events featuring these cars in Europe on the Creventic calendar.
The race format, pioneered by Creventic, saw the big machines run five hours on Friday afternoon before entering parc ferme overnight. At 10:30 on the Saturday, the GT and prototype grids formed ahead of the Hankook 24H Silverstone grid, the field for the third of Creventic’s championships, the 2018 Touring Car Endurance Series. From this point until the end of the 12 hours, all three series ran concurrently for the first time in championship history.
Both the 12H winners battled adversity to claim their victories with the ROFGO Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 being hit up the backside and stranded in the Vale gravel trap in the opening segment. Arguably the Simpson team had the larger challenge though when the Ginetta G57 P2 they had prepared for the race was crashed and written off during the pre-race open test on Thursday. Home court advantage saved the effort though as a new car was loaded and delivered from Ginetta’s Garforth, Yorkshire base in time for scrutineering and prep before the race meeting started proper.
Treacherous conditions on Friday saw a GT3 car top the standings but much improved, if still wet racing saw the G57 overturn a two lap deficit at the pause to a 1:16.977 second advantage at the end of the combined event. Bob Berridge completed the #4 Ginetta G57 P2’s 278th lap to take the orange flag, cementing the win for team mates Steve Tandy and Mike Simpson. The victory would be some solace to the team who laboured almost constantly throughout the 12 hours battling a #6 machine which seemed determined to retire, no matter what the crew or mechanics did.
Slow and edgy in the opening five hours became a mechanical horror story when the race resumed. A new floor was offered, accepted and then damaged to the point that there was no spare for the #4 when it broke its legality panel or “cheese wedge” at the rear with around three hours to go despite the retirement of the #6. There was also a problem with the Xtrac 6-speed sequential gearbox and a very early pit call for an alarming amount of oil once the race resumed on Saturday morning.
Officially the #6 was listed as a DNF on the result but low category numbes saw the crew on the third step of the podium behind Krafft Racing’s Normal M20 FC. The outgunned CN car had hoped to use reliability and stability to hit above its weight class in the 3 car 12H Proto field. Reliability was reasonable in a sprint car adapted to endurance racing but the stability was sadly lacking. Several trips to the gravel traps and quagmires of the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit and a fairly substantial impact combined with a 4.7l displacement deficit conspired to relegate the #97 machine of Regis Tref, Norbert Sauvain and Karl Pedraza to 18th place overall and 2nd in the Proto field. Still, small numbers served some advantage as the Norma still managed to claim a 1st place trophy in the CN1 class, a podium for one.
With the GT cars running on the same circuit at the same time we were treated to feast alongside our prototype famine. Seven A6-Pro cars were entered of which six took the start, Ram Racing having packed up and headed for home before the sun had set on the five hour opening stretch. An engine problem for the team saw them out, even though a lorry wouldn’t have been needed to grab a spare from the workshop. A pallet truck would have sufficed for the short journey from Silverstone Circuit to the Silverstone technology park and back.
Remarkably though, Ram didn’t have the shortest journey to the track, A6-Am runners FF Corse are based right next to the circuit main entrance!
The six cars which took the start in A6-Pro each had a spell in the lead of the event, with Bohemia Energy Racing with Scuderia Praha holding the top spot outright at the overnight halt. A strange accident resulting in massive damage to the left hand side of the Ferrari 488 GT3 about three hours in to the 7 hour finishing segment put an end to their hopes of victory though. The car continued carrying a crumpled rear quarter but fortunately no damage to the rear axle though it lost three laps on the eventual winners come close of play. Two of those lost laps came as a result of a penalty applied post-race, so an overall very strong effort from the Ferrari crew.
Forch Racing also took a spell in the lead of the race in their Porsche 991 GT3 R but lost out at the 8 hour mark to a stunningly strong effort from the ROFGO Mercedes. The Gulf liveried AMG of Roald Goethe, Stewart Hall and Daniel Brown overcame its damages and detours to blast past Zeljko Drmic, Patrick Eisemann and Robert Lukas and on to a lap margin at the close of play. The Porsche was coming back at the Mercedes towards the end of the race though, crossing the line one lap and 24 seconds off the class winner. GRT Grasser Racing Team took the final podium spot in their Lamborghini Huracan GT3 for the brothers Ineichen, Franck Perera and Phil Keen.
Herberth Motorsport were slowed from their race challenge by a trip through the gravel followed by an extensive strip down of the rear end to clear out the gravel. Removing the rear bumper revealed a ripped water pump belt, prudence demanded a change which cost the team 30 minutes. Daniel Allemann, Ralf Bohn and Robert and Alfred Renauer struggled on to 11th overall and fifth in class at the end of the race. Their trip through the gravel had but one saving grace, on return it was one of the few clean cars on the circuit!
IDEC Sport Racing joined the Ram Racing Mercedes in the three pointed star’s retirement home on the Friday after a monumental shunt at the Wing which destroyed the front end of the AMG GT to the point that no-one, commentators included could identify the wreckage as a Mercedes from the video screens. We are glad to report though that the driver was released from the medial centre shortly after the incident.
A6-Am was claimed by the Car Collection Motorsport crew of Johannes Dr. Kirchoff, Elmer Grimm and Ingo Vogler. The #34 Audi R8 LMS spent much of the race in the shadow of its team car the #33 but while the winning machine didn’t rise to notice much, it also avoided the problems of its sister. The #33 of Ali Capan, Demitri Parhofer, Isaac Tutumlu Lopez and Jason Baker showed spots of great pace amid a weekend which saw it twice returned to the pits on the end of a rope. The final nail in the coffin for the car was a terminal steering imbalance and clutch problems. Still the car managed to get to the cusp of the final hour and for its efforts is rewarded with sixth in class and the position of final classified runner.
Second in the Am class went to Attempto Racing whose Lamborghini looked very quick in the final stages of the race as it strove to reduce the deficit to the winner. Had the race been but 30 minutes longer they may have succeeded too as the Lamborghini sprinted to the orange flag 4.722 seconds behind the #34 Audi. The Attempto car was also the victim of a remarkable accident in pit lane. The 24H Series use a petrol station style fueling area, which at Silverstone is accessed through a pit garage into the paddock. As the Lamborghini made its way through the garage it lost traction, spun and crashed into the wall damaging its front end due to the slippery conditions. Pit lane accidents we’ve heard of, a crash in the garage? Thats a new one.
PROsport Performance took the final podium spot, a well-deserved reward for hours of redemptive work. The Mercedes-AMG started the race by rear-ending the eventual GT winner and may have had a part to play in the ‘substantial impact’ suffered by the Krafft Norma. The Am entered Grasser Racing Lamborhigni and FF Corse’s Red River Sport effort rounded out the running Am cars at the end of 12 Hours of racing.
SPX was a small class, of only two entrants. Speed Lover entered the class in their mildly reworked Porsche 991 GT3 Cup car while series debutants Fox Motorsport turned up to a 12 hour race with a brand new, barely shaken down Audi R8 LMS GT, the new for 2018 GT4 offering from the four rings. A true battle of David and Goliath saw the little Audi build a 90 second advantage at the close of Friday’s action. Unfortunately conditions were sufficiently tricky that the legendary wet weather performance of the Porsche was too much for Jamie Stanley, Glenn Sherwood and Ben Clucas to overcome in a car so out of its weight class.
911 class bragging rights go to IDEC Sport Racing who fought a hard and close battle with rivals Porsche Laurent Racing. The team’s yacht racing experience seemed evident as they crossed the start finish line with seconds to spare trapping their rivals a lap down when the orange flag was flown at the end of the race. The battle for second was nowhere near as close though with the #64 Porsche Laurent Racing machine chasing the #65 from seven laps down to round out the podium and a team 2-3 finish in class.
The 24H GT Series and 24H Proto Series will return to action at Circuito de Navarra in Spain in April where the two series will again share the racetrack for 12 Hours of racing action.
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: #31 ROFGO Racing Mercedes-AMG GT – Goethe/Hall/Brown
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: #34 Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 – Dr.Kirchoff/Grimm/Vogler
2nd: #66 Attempto Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 – Schothorst/Krebs/Amstuz
3rd: #85 PROsport Performance Mercedes-AMG GT – Putmann/Espenlaub/Foster
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: #78 Speed Lover Porsche 991-I Cup – Denis/Basitien
2nd: #47 Fox Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT – Stanley/Sherwood/Clucas