At the Circuit of the Americas, Black Falcon closed out a successful season of endurance racing with its first class win of the 2019 24H SERIES season and its second in succession at the Hankook 24H COTA USA. But did you know?
1. Marks the second time that four different manufacturers have won at least one round outright during a 24H SERIES season
And bizarrely, Audi
got the ball rolling on both occasions.
In 2016, Belgian Audi Club Team WRT took an inaugural win for the four rings at the Hankook 24H DUBAI, V8 Racing following that up one round later with a first outright series win for Renault
in Mugello with the RS01 GT3
. The Precote Herberth Motorsport Porsche
991 GT3 R collected a hattrick at Zandvoort, Circuit Paul Ricard and Barcelona, while Scuderia Praha took its second consecutive win in Brno with the Ferrari
458 GT3. There’s your four, and if you include that year’s TCE-only Hankook 24H SILVERSTONE, won by the Team ABBA with Rollcentre Racing BMW
M3 V8, the total jumps to five.
This year, the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook can once again boast four different manufacturers as outright winners during a single season.
Car Collection Motorsport got the ball rolling in Dubai
with the Audi
R8 LMS before Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha’s decisive run of four wins with the Ferrari
488 Italia GT3 en-route to the 24H SERIES Europe Overall GT Teams’ title. A run halted by the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini
Huracán GT3 Evo 2019 in Barcelona
before Black Falcon took its first win of the year with the Mercedes-AMG
In doing so – get this! – Black Falcon also became the first team to have won the Hankook 24H COTA USA that had not won that’s year’s season-opening Hankook 24H DUBAI.
2. The 2019 Hankook 24H COTA USA set new distance and fastest lap records…
That the lap distance record for CREVENTIC’s annual trip to the Circuit of the Americas was broken in 2019 is fairly well-known by now, the Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3
completing 610 laps of the 5.513km Grand Prix facility this year, two more than the Herberth Motorsport Porsche 991 GT3 R managed in 2017. It’s also six more – 603 – than Black Falcon itself managed in 2018, for those of you who were curious.
But did you know that the fastest times set in both the race proper and qualifying were also the best we’ve seen to-date in event history? This year, Black Falcon’s Felipe Fraga qualified the #4 Mercedes on pole position with a 2m 05.774s lap time, less than one-tenth faster than the 2m 05.697s pole lap R-Motorsport’s Marvin Kirchofer managed last year. Similarly, during this year’s race, HB Racing’s Nikolaj Rogivue set a 2m 06.357s with the #41 Ferrari 488 GT3, three-tenths quicker than the 2m 06.696s Jeroen Bleekemolen managed in the #3 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 in 2017.
3. …and marks the first time in three years that representatives from FIVE different categories finish inside the top 10
Yes, we’re a broken record, but seriously, the level of competition in the 24H SERIES bears repeating! And few stats back that statement up more than the fact that 1 of every 2 finishers in the overall top 10 at COTA represented a different category.
Black Falcon (#4) simultaneously claimed outright GT and A6-Pro
victory at the Circuit of the Americas, while Car Collection Motorsport (#34), on the third step of the overall podium, secured the A6-Am
win. More on that in a second.
Leipert Motorsport (#710) took its third SPX
-class win of the season and secured its best overall finish of 2019 in 7th, just two spots ahead Overall TCE and TCR
-class victory, Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101). Rounding out the top 10 meanwhile with RHC Jorgensen/Strom (#450), which took its first GT4
category win in the 24H SERIES.
To find that level of diversity in the 24H SERIES top 10, you have to rewind all the way to the 2016 Hankook 24H SILVERSTONE. At the event, Team ABBA with Rollcentre Racing took the Overall TCE and SP-Touring
win, just one place ahead of TCR
-class victor, Team Bleekemolen. An incredible run saw A3
-class winners Team Altran Peugeot, RECY RACING TEAM and JJ Motorsport finish, while A2
-category victor Modena Motorsports finished in 10th place overall.
4. A 30-second gap between 1st and 2nd in A6-Am isn’t even in the top five closest finishes of the season
It says a lot about the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook in 2019 that a 32.369s deficit from 1st to 2nd in A6-Am– barely a third of a lap around the Circuit of the Americas – after 24 hours of endurance racing could be considered ‘cavernous’ compared with some of the tight finishes we’ve seen this year. In fact, when you consider all seven races this season and the 11 categories therein, the gap between Car Collection Motorsport (#34) and CP Racing (#85) for the win in A6-Am at COTA is only the sixth closest finish, in-class, we’ve seen this year.
That’s beyond insane when you really stop to think about it! And bear in mind, that figure doesn’t even include outright finishes like the 7.871s gap that split outright winner Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha (#11) and A6-Am class winner/outright runner-up Herberth Motorsport (#91) at Spa
. Throw those into the mix and that 32.369s isn’t even one of the top 10 closest finishes of 2019!
Sticking with in-class results for now, the tightest fight we’ve seen for a category podium in the 24H SERIES this year is the 8.234s that split 2nd placed NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (#175) from 3rd placed Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101) in TCR at this year’s Hankook 12H BRNO
. There’s even been a tighter finish in A6-Am, as the Car Collection Motorsport Audis that finished 2nd and 3rd in A6-Am at Barcelona
were split by just 16.299s.
5. The #911 Porsche Lorient Racing Cup and #34 Car Collection Motorsport Audi secured their respective championships with their first wins of the season
2019 has been a good year for Porsche Lorient Racing, the French team having taken two class wins, a further six podiums with its #911 and #912 991-II Cup cars, and both the 24H SERIES Europe and 24H SERIES Continents championships. Ironically, though the #911 collected both titles, its class win at COTA was not only the first of the season for that car, but the first in over a year.
The last time the #911 – then running as the #64 – took the chequered flag was at last year’s Hankook 24H BARCELONA
, when the 991-II Cup
, ironically, beat the sister #912. Consistently has instead proven the key in 2019, with the #911 having 3rd in-class in Dubai, Mugello, Spa, Brno and Barcelona, plus a 2nd in Portimão, before claiming the win at COTA.
Newly crowned A6-Am champion Car Collection Motorsport meanwhile (#34) had to wait even longer to end its draught, the last class win for the #34 Audi R8 LMS
before COTA having been secured more than 18 months ago at the 2018 Hankook 12H NAVARRA. Consistently has once again proven the key, as the Audi has finished all but three of those 11 intervening races on the class podium.
6. Harald Schlotter is now Leipert Motorsport’s most successful driver in the 24H SERIES
An obvious statement perhaps, given that German driver Harald Schlotter has just been crowned the GT Drivers’ champion in both the 24H SERIES Continents outright and the SPX class therein. There is slightly more to this fact though.
At the Circuit of the Americas, Schlotter recorded his fourth class win for Leipert Motorsport, breaking him out of a tie with young Norwegian teammate, Marcus Påverud. The pair took their first SPX class win with the German squad at last year’s Hankook24H BARCELONA, and followed that up with victories this year in Dubai and Portimão. With Påverud absent at COTA and Schlotter taking another win to seal his ‘Continents’ title, that now leaves the young Norwegian trailing his German teammate four wins to three.
Want to hear something more remarkable? In Leipert Motorsport’s intermittent outings with the 24H SERIES since its debut in Dubai in 2006, Ingo Leipert’s eponymous team has celebrated seven class wins with 23 different drivers! We’re obviously not going to name them all here, but behind Schlotter and Påverud, Russian Vadim Gitlin, team namesake Marcel Leipert, and Isaac Tutumlu Lopez each have two wins apiece.
7. 991 and GT4 are now the only categories where an American driver has won every year at COTA
Slightly odd statistic but one that deserves closer analysis.
When it comes to outright wins at the Hankook 24H COTA USA, drivers hailing from America have done incredibly well, with Bret Curtis, Scott Heckert and Mike Skeen, and Cooper MacNeil and Ben Keating
having received the garlands in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Only two classes though have featured an American driver on the top step every year.
Impressively, in GT4, all but three drivers have been sported the Stars and Stripes. Alan Menti and Joseph Toussaint took the then-SP3-GT4 class win 2017, Andrew Davis, Jason Hart, Curt Swearingin, Matt Travis and Mike Vess won for Classic BMW in 2018, and Daren Jorgensen, Jon Miller, and Brett Strom were victorious with RHC Jorgensen/Strom in 2019.
In 991 meanwhile, series stalwarts Charles Putman
, Charles Espenlaub and Joe Foster took the top step with PROsport Performance in 2017, David Baker, Trenton Estep, Mark Kvamme and Alan Metni (again) did the honours for JDX Racing in 2018, and Dominique Bastien claimed the flag this year. Fun fact, did you know that the inclusion of American Bastien to Porsche Lorient Racing
’s line-up means COTA 2019 marks the first time the French 991 squad has ever scored a 24H SERIES win with anything other than an all-French driver line-up?
8. Red Camel-Jordans.nl’s 9th place overall marked the best overall finish for a TCR car ever in the 24H SERIES
And once again, it happened at the Hankook 24H COTA.
In 2018, LMS Racing by Bas Koeten
Racing took the highest outright finishing position for a TCR car at a 24H SERIES Event since the concept was introduced for 2016 (we’re obviously not counting the TCE-only rounds at Silverstone in 2016 and 2018). On that occasion, the CUPRA TCR finished 10th overall, a result that was repeated, again by Bas Koeten Racing, at this year’s Hankook 24H BARCELONA.
The Dutch endurance stalwart couldn’t quite make it three for three at this year’s Hankook 24H COTA USA – though it certainly wasn’t through lack of trying – and instead, it was this year’s TCE division winner Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101) that broke the record, the orange CUPRA TCR
finishing an incredible 9th overall after a largely fault-free run.
In doing so, the CUPRA TCR beat not only every other TCE competitor, but also all entrants in 991 and GT4. That’s a record that will take some beating.
9. Volkswagen and CUPRA ended the year with the same number of TCR podiums
If we’re talking about TCR wins in 2019, the Volkswagen Golf GTI does have the edge over the CUPRA TCR, the former having taken four wins this year (Dubai
, Mugello, Brno, and Portimão) to the latter’s three (Spa, Barcelona and COTA).
However, in terms of total TCR podiums in 2019, the two brands are locked together with eight apiece from the 21 on offer. Of the remaining five Audi has collected four courtesy of 2nd places at Mugello, Portimão
and COTA for the RS3 LMS, plus a 3rd in Spa-Francorchamps. The remaining 3rd from Portimão went to the Peugeot 308 Racing Cup.
10. Benito Tagle became the series’ first Mexican class winner, and Felipe Fraga took victory for Brazil for the first time in two years
When he crossed the line after 24 hours of racing at COTA to collect CUP1 victory for Sorg Rennsport, Benito Tagle probably didn’t know he was making history. In doing so, Tagle became the first Mexican driver to ever take a class win in the 24H SERIES, ironically beating the previous record – 2nd in-class – which he himself at equalled, in CUP1, and with Sorg Rennsport, at the Circuit of the Americas in both 2017 and 2018.
If, however (and for some reason), you’re looking for the last time a Mexican driver not called ‘Tagle’ finished on a 24H SERIES class podium, you need to go all the way back to the 2015 Hankook 24H DUBAI when Ricardo Sanchez finished 2nd in A6-Am onboard the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN GTR GT3.
Felipe Frage meanwhile became the first Brazilian driver to represent Verde e amarela on the top step of a 24H SERIES podium since Joaquim Penteado helped Parkalgar Racing Team secure the SP3-GT4 win at the 2017 Hankook 24H PORTIMAO. Fun fact, one of Penteado’s teammates that weekend was six-time Olympic champion, Sir Chris Hoy, who’s currently undefeated in the 24H SERIES.
*Check out the full results from the 2019 Hankook 24H COTA USA can be found HERE and our final 24H SERIES Continents championship standings HERE.