Heading into the season finale at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, a whopping 23 drivers are in contention for the overall crown, five brands are battling it out for outright GT honours, and could we see a TCE entry finish inside the overall top 10?
1. Four different manufacturers could the four rounds of this year’s 24H SERIES Continents.
Hey, it’s not as inconceivable as you might think!
At the season opener in Dubai, Car Collection Motorsport (#88) secured Audi
’s second outright win at the event with a commanding run. At the first of two European rounds in Portimão, Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha (#11) collected its fourth win on the trot with the Ferrari
488 GT3, while Barwell Motorsport took its maiden series win one round later in Barcelona with the Lamborghini
Huracán GT3 Evo.
And what of the previous winners of the Hankook 24H COTA USA? Well, the Herberth Motorsport Porsche
991 GT3 R (#91) claimed the inaugural win in 2017, while the Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG
GT3 (#3) followed that up with victory one year later. You’d be foolish not to consider both teams, and cars, among the pre-event favourites in Austin.
2. One manufacturer has had at least two cars finish on the podium so far during this year’s 24H SERIES Continents
once again gets this particular fact up and running, given that the four rings took 1st and 2nd overall in Dubai with the RS LMS, Car Collection Motorsport leading home MS7 by WRT. In Portugal, it was Ferrari
’s turn as Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha finished 1st while a similarly bridled Wochenspiegel Team Monschau came home 3rd. Lastly, in Barcelona, the Herberth Motorsport 991 GT3 R finished just 10s shy of overall victory, while fellow Porsche
runner GPX Racing completed the overall top three.
So, what odds of the same thing happening in COTA? Pretty high actually, given that Porsche collected a 1-3 at the inaugural race in 2017 (Herberth Motorsport 1st, Manthey Racing 3rd) and Mercedes did likewise one year later (Black Falcon / PROsport Performance).
3. The top eight teams in the GT standings are split by just eight points…
And of those eight, seven of them lead the way in their respective class championships.
Despite missing the previous round in Barcelona (only one of this year’s two European rounds counts towards the championship points total), SPX-class leader Leipert Motorsport (#710) also leads the way in the overall 24H SERIES Continents standings on 57 points. Handy, but hardly insurmountable, given that newly crowned 24H SERIES Europe GT champion Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha (#11) AND joint A6-class leader Car Collection Motorsport (#88) lie just three points behind.
With hopes of claiming its first outright victory of the season at an event for which it was the inaugural winner, Herberth Motorsport (#91) holds 52 points, just five adrift of Leipert Motorsport.
Thereafter, things start to get really interesting as GT4-class leader Sorg Rennsport (#451), A6-Am class leader Car Collection Motorsport (#34), and 991-class leader Porsche Lorient Racing (#911) all hold 50 points, putting them just one point ahead of MRS GT-Racing (#980).
Want another fun fact free of charge? Those eight teams represent FIVE different manufacturers, namely Lamborghini
(Leipert Motorsport), Ferrari
(Scuderia Praha), Audi
(Car Collection Motorsport), Porsche
(Herberth Motorsport, Porsche Lorient Racing and MRS GT-Racing), and BMW
4. …and 23 GT drivers are split by only 10!
And only the top five have been entered in the same class throughout the season.
Leipert teammates Harald Schlotter and Marcus Påverud after all are sitting semi-pretty on 57 points having taken two SPX class wins, just three ahead of Scuderia Praha trio Matteo Malucelli, Jiří Písařík and Josef Kral who’ve been battling for A6-Pro honours in 2019.
Hereafter it’s all change.
Speed Lover duo Dominique Bastien and Nigel Farmer have accumulated 53 points, courtesy of a 3rd place in SPX at the season opener in Dubai and a 991-class win in Barcelona. Herberth Motorsport teammates Daniel Allemann, Ralf Bohn and Robert Renauer meanwhile have a couple of 2nd place finished to their name in A6-Pro and A6-Am, and are just one point further adrift.
It’s a nine-way split meanwhile on 50 points, with…
…look, we’ll save you the trouble and let you know the 24H SERIES Continents standings can be found HERE
5. The #11 Scuderia Praha Ferrari is the only GT car to have led at least one lap at every 24H SERIES Continents race so far this year.
Yep. Even in Barcelona, and despite turbo issues costing the 488 GT3 close to an hour in the garage, the Czech team still managed to lead the field for 10 laps in the early stages. Before that, on its Hankook 24H DUBAI debut, Scuderia Praha was out front for five laps en-route to finishing 3rd overall. And in Portimão, a particularly commanding performance led to the win and an incredible 586 laps at the head of the field. And yes, that 601-lap total is the highest of any GT team so far this season.
For the completionists amongst you, the second highest is 560, courtesy of the Car Collection Motorsport Audi (#88).
6. Leipert Motorsport is the only former 24H SERIES Continents champion in contention for a crown this year*
Just goes to show how competitive this year’s 24H SERIES has been that, of the eight class championships up for grabs, only two teams are former title holders.
The first, as you’ve probably already guessed, is Leipert Motorsport, which won the inaugural ‘SPX’ class 24H SERIES Continents title in 2017. Following wins in Dubai and Portimão this year, the Italian team heads into the season finale on top of both the SPX standings and the overall classification.
Okay, fine, technically, CP Racing could also be included in this fact, given that the team won the 24H SERIES Continents outright last year under the ‘PROsport Performance’ banner. Since the German squad has competed as an Aston Martin Racing partner this year though with the brand new Vantage GT4, and since Charles Putman set up an eponymous team for 2019, we couldn’t really include them here. Still, on that note…
7. There hasn’t been a repeat ‘991’ class winner in the 24H SERIES Continents since PROsport Performance
Granted, the 991 category is among the most competitive categories in the 24H SERIES, but its says a lot that, in the nine rounds to-date that have counted towards the 24H SERIES Continents title since 2017, PROsport Performance is the only team to have taken repeat ‘Continents’ wins.
In an impressive 2017, the German team took six consecutive class wins to secure the 991-class ‘Continents’ title, winning in Portimão and COTA to do so. Since then, victory at rounds counting towards the Continents title has been taken by – deep breath – FACH AUTO TECH and race:pro motorsport (Pro and Pro-Am, Dubai ’18), Forch Racing (Portimão, ’18), Porsche Lorient Racing (Barcelona ’18), JDX Racing (COTA, ’18), Duel Racing (Dubai ’19), DUWO Racing (Portimão ’19), and Speed Lover (Barcelona ’19).
Of the title protagonists, Porsche Lorient Racing (#911) – the standings leader on 50 points – is the only team that could match PROsport’s record. MRS GT-Racing (#980) meanwhile, just one point adrift, could continue the trend with, potentially, its first win of the season.
8. Last year’s Hankook 24H COTA USA set a new record for the highest overall finishing position for a TCE car in a 24H GT SERIES event.
Anyone doubting the pace and dexterity of TCE machinery really should take a close look at the results of last year’s season finale at COTA. Not only did the TCE division winner finish 11th overall – an incredible achievement in and of itself – but the LMS Racing by Bas Koeten Racing CUPRA TCR finished just 2.391s behind the BMW M4 GT4 of RHC Jorgensen/Strom in 10th. Not counting the TCE-only program in 2017, it’s the highest overall finishing position for a TCE entry since the division was introduced for 2016.
Added fun fact, it’s a record that’s since been repeated – again by Bas Koeten Racing – at this year’s Hankook 24H BARCELONA with TOPCAR sport. Which has also entered at COTA. I-spy a new record…
9. Sorg Rennsport could seal the GT4 title with only its third class win since 2016
Heading into the Hankook 24H COTA USA, it’s all but certain that Sorg Rennsport (#451) will be crowned GT4-class 24H SERIES Continents champion: the German team has a commanding 22-point lead in the standings over Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport, thanks to 2nd place finishes at both Dubai and Barcelona. The team is also only sevem points shy of the overall 24H GT SERIES Continents crown (see point three above), so a class win would be timely.
It would also bring the team’s unusual dry spell to a close, given that the last time Sorg Rennsport took a class win, it was courtesy of Stephan Epp, Christian Andreas Franz, Michael Hollerweger, Heiko Eichenberg and Oskar Sandberg taking the CUP1 chequered flag in Dubai in 2017. This was just under two years after Nicolas Griebner, Daniel Sorg, Michael Steffny, Gunther Felix and Thomas Muller took the ‘Securtal Sorg Rennsport’s first series win at the HAnkook 24H CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD in 2015.
Should the GT4 competition prove too difficult to overhaul, Sorg Rennsport still has two other opportunities with sister entries in TCR (#151) and CUP1 (#851).
*Check out the full 24H SERIES Continents standings HERE
and our entry list for the 2019 Hankook 24H COTA USA HERE