After seven rounds across three continents, the 24H SERIES goes into the off-season celebrating another successful season of endurance racing, one in which new champions were crowned in both the 24H SERIES Europe and 24H SERIES Continents. But what were some of the main highlights from 2019? What were some of our more celebrated ‘fascinating facts’ from this season…?
1. 2019 was the first time EVER that neither Porsche nor Mercedes finished on the outright Hankook 24H DUBAI podium.
Yes, Audi stole most of the headlines at this year’s Hankook 24H DUBAI as the brand new R8 LMS took only the fifth 1-2 outright finish at the event since the inaugural running in 2006. It was also an impressive race for Ferrari with Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha (#11) taking the final spot on the podium and, in turn, the prancing horse’s first top three finish at the event since 2015.
Conversely things didn’t go quite as well for event mainstays, Porsche and Mercedes-AMG, the highest finishes for which were 8th and 7th respectively.
To give you an idea just how prolific the German brands have been on the Dubai podium, Porsche has claimed 13 podium spots since 2006, and Mercedes has taken 11 since its event debut in 2011. To put that another way, AMG has never failed to take a Dubai 24-hour podium before 2019
2. This year’s Hankook 24H DUBAI was the event’s narrowest winning margin in a decade.
Despite the fact that Car Collection Motorsport (#88) led 560 of the 606 completed laps – the highest since Black Falcon’s 550 laps led en-route to victory in 2015 – the orange Audi’s win wasn’t quite as dominant as that statistic would suggest. At the chequered flag for instance, Rik Breukers led Dries Vanthoor in the MS7 by WRT (#7) by 2m 58.585s. That’s just under a lap and a half after 24 hours of racing.
It’s also the lowest winning margin we’ve seen at the Hankook 24H DUBAI since the Land Motorsport Porsche 997 GT3 Cup beat the Al Faisal Racing BMW Z4 M Coupé by just 49.676s back in 2009. And yes, that’s still the event record.
3. Vortex took its first 24H SERIES class victory in Dubai.
It’s been a troubled run for Vortex so far in the 24H SERIES: prior to the 2019 season, the sports car had failed to finish 13 of the 18 races for which it had been entered. Lady Luck finally gave the company a break though at this year’s Hankook 24H DUBAI, when the Vortex Scirocco GC 10 (#301) took SP3 class victory 11 laps clear of the heavily troubled CWS Engineering Ginetta G55.
Be fair though, Dubai was not the first time that a Vortex had been classified on a 24H SERIES class podium. On its very first outing in Dubai in 2016, the Vortex 1.0 finished 2nd in SP2, following that up with 3rd in the SP-Touring class two rounds later at Silverstone. Admittedly things went slightly downhill in 2017, when 3rd in the SP2 class in Mugello was the car’s only confirmed classification across nine entries that year.
*Check out the full list from Dubai HERE
4. In Mugello, Hofor-Racing took its first A6-Am class win since winning the title in 2017.
Chantal Prinz must be kicking herself just a little bit that she wasn’t racing at Mugello, given that Hofor-Racing took its first class win in the 24H SERIES in 19 months at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello. Put another way, before her husband Alexander, her father Michael Kroll, and regular teammates Kenneth Heyer and Christiaan Frankenhout took the chequered flag, the Swiss squad hadn’t taken a class win since the 2017 Hankook 24H PORTIMAO, the same race that secured them the A6 Teams’, GT Teams’, Drivers’ and Ladies’ Cup Championship crowns.
It was a result that also parachuted the former 24H SERIES champions to the head of the European Championship table in the GT division, just one point ahead of eventual title winners, Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha (#11).
5. Dan Agro took the first class win for a Peugeot in two years in Mugello.
As well as celebrating its first class win in the 24H SERIES, Dan Agro Racing brought another win-less streak to a close when the Danish-run Peugeot RCZ took the chequered flag at the Hankook 12H MUGELLO. Not only was it the first win for a Peugeot in the A3-class since 2017, it marked the first time since that season that ‘The Lion’ has taken a class win of any kind in the 24H SERIES.
Fittingly, both wins were taken by the same name – Team Altran Peugeot – albeit with two different cars. At the 2017 Hankook 24H DUBAI in January, the French team’s 208 GTI made its final series start, and completed said swansong with a 1-2 finish in the A3-class. 11 months later at the inaugural Hankook 24H COTA USA, Team Altran Peugeot, now running a 3008 Racing Cup in the TCR class, cemented the 24H GT SERIES TCR-class championship with another 1-2 finish. Little did any of us know, however, that it would be another year and a half before Peugeot headed its category once again.
*Check out the results from Mugello HERE
6. A6-Am extended a streak in Spa and celebrated its fifth different winner in succession.
Herberth Motorsport’s A6-Am win at Spa-Francorchamps marked the fifth race in a row in the 24H SERIES that a different team scored victory. It was also the first time since the A6-Am class was created in 2016 that more than three squads have done so consecutively.
The streak started with SPS automotive performance at last November’s Hankook 12H SPA, and the German team was emulated thereafter by PROsport Performance (COTA ’18), HTP Motorsport (Dubai ’19), Hofor Racing (Mugello ’19), and, finally, Herberth Motorsport (Spa ’19). This beats the previous best set by IDEC SPORT RACING (Mugello), Hofor-Racing (Circuit Paul Ricard) and Spirit of Race (Barcelona) in 2016, and equalled by GRT Grasser Racing Team (Red Bull Ring), Hofor-Racing (Circuit Paul Ricard…again), and Car Collection Motorsport (Imola) one year later.
Fun additional fact, though Herberth Motorsport has amassed an impressive collection of silverware, the Hankook 12H SPA was the first time the former 24H SERIES Continents champion had taken an A6-Am win in the 24H SERIES.
7. For the first time in the 24H SERIES, the Renauer brothers finished on different steps of the same podium in Spa.
Alfred and Robert Renauer are no strangers to the top step of the 24H SERIES podium. In its various guises, the Herberth Motorsport Porsche has taken 10 outright wins in the 24H SERIES thus far with one, and usually both, of the Renauer twins behind the wheel. Brutal bad luck in the closing minutes aside (check out our GT race report HERE
), it was no surprise to see the twins on the podium once again at this year’s Hankook 12H SPA.
Interestingly, although the brothers have shared podium finishes before in the 24H SERIES, this was the very first time Alfred and Robert shared a podium having raced two different cars. Robert after all took the A6-Am class win with Daniel Allemann and Ralf Bohn in the Herberth Porsche 911 GT3 R, while Alfred was on the third step with Tim Müller, Taki Konstantinou and Jürgen Häring collecting 3rd place in-class for HB Racing.
8. PROsport Performance collected the first class win for the new Aston Martin Vantage GT4 at the Hankook 12H SPA, which was also the British marque’s first 24H SERIES win in nine years.
There were celebrations aplenty in the PROsport Performance garage at Spa-Francorchamps. Having claimed the new Vantage GT4’s first podium finish in Mugello, the German squad was toasting a maiden series victory for its brand new Aston Martin in Spa, give or take a dash of gaffer tape.
Amidst this achievement, it was easy to forget that, in taking the chequered at the head of the SP3 class, PROsport Performance had also recorded the first class victory for an Aston Martin since AUH Motorsport’s Humaid Al Masaood, Michael Prophet, Eric Charles and Alex Kapadia piloted the previous gen Vantage GT4 to SP3-GT4 victory at the 2010 Hankook 24H DUBAI.
*Check out the full list from Spa HERE
9. For the first time since 2016, one GT team won three successive races outright at the Hankook 12H BRNO.
Proud as Jiří Písařík, Josef Kral and Matteo Malucelli should definitely be after their storming performance this season, wins for Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha (#11) at Mugello, Spa and Brno proved significant for reasons other than the championship lead this gave the Ferrari 488 GT3.
This Mugello-Spa-Brno run after all marked the first time any GT team had scored a hat trick of overall wins in the 24H GT SERIES since 2016. The last time, fittingly, was when series nemesis Herberth Motorsport (#91) – then called ‘Precote Herberth Motorsport’ – won at Zandvoort, Circuit Paul Ricard and Barcelona three years ago. The team that brought that run to a close? Scuderia Praha.
10. The fight between 2nd and 3rd at Brno was the closest of any TCE position all year.
It was always going to take something pretty impressive to beat the 7.871s that split Scuderia Praha and Herberth Motorsport at Spa-Francorchamps. And in fairness, NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (#175) and Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101) gave it a solid go in their fight for 2nd in the TCE division, Harry Hilders and Rik Breukers split by just 8.234s at the chequered flag.
Still, while not the closest finish of the year, this was the tightest fight at the flag we’d seen in TCE all season. The previous closest was the 26.792s that separated Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing’s Jan Sorensen (#112) and AC Motorsport’s Vincent Radermecker (#188) battle for the win at Mugello.
11. Team ABBA Racing’s class win in ‘SP3’ in Brno was its first in the 24H SERIES in almost three years.
Team ABBA Racing (#334) had a weekend to forget at Brno: despite leading all but two of the opening 23 laps in TCE, intense heat in the BMW M3 V8 GTR led to a badly burnt right boot for Sam Neary and a melted sensor in the gear selector, the latter costing the team more than an hour in the garage. A trying weekend also included a hefty collision with the Herberth Motorsport Porsche on the very last lap of Friday’s race before a loss of drive finally put the BMW out of its misery with just one hour left to run on Saturday. You can read the full TCE race report from Brno HERE
However, even despite their poor fortune, Team ABBA Racing completed enough laps to collect the SP3-class win, the team’s first in the 24H SERIES since the 2016 Hankook 24H SILVERSTONE 38 months earlier.
*Check out the full list from Brno HERE
12. At Portimão, Herberth Motorsport made its first front row start in the 24H SERIES since 2017.
Incredible, isn’t it? Despite being a perennial front-runner in the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook, a winner of 10 GT events outright, and a former 24H GT SERIES Continents champion in 2017, Portimão this year marked the first time in 15 races and 24 months that Herberth Motorsport started from the front row for a 24H SERIES event.
We’re all familiar with Herberth’s now customary charges through the mid-field in the 24H SERIES, the Bavarian team preferring to focus on race setup during qualifying rather than outright pace over a single lap. Still, for the team to have gone so long without a front row start – since the 2017 Hankook 12H IMOLA – is beyond baffling.
Want to hear something even more incredible? The Hankook 24H PORTIMAO was only the team’s second pole position since its arrival in 2015. Yes, really!
13. GPX scored its best ever result in the 24H SERIES at the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO.
Upon its arrival in the series with the Renaultsport R.S. 01 in 2017, the team from the United Arab Emirates took two 4th places and an overall 3rd place in its first four outings, the latter occurring at the 2017 Hankook 12H RED BULL RING.
Before Portugal, that 3rd place – 2nd in A6-Am – was the team’s best result in the 24H SERIES, one the new Porsche 991 GT3 R pounded into submission by finishing 2nd overall and 2nd in the A6-Pro class at Portimão.
The only driver to be involved in both results? Jordan Grogor, who teamed with Nicky Pastorelli, Alexandre Cougnaud and Jean-Pierre Valentini last weekend, and Frederic Fatien and Bassam Kronfli in Austria two years ago.
14. Synchro Motorsport scored the first outright TCE podium position for an A3-class car at Portimão.
The Synchro Motorsport-run ‘FK8’ Honda Civic Type-R (#676) took the A3-class win at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, and was on course to finish 4th overall in the TCE division until the Nordschleife Racing Peugeot 308 Racing Cup sputtered to a halt on-track with just minutes left on the clock (see ‘What Happened, TCE’
). Come the chequered flag, 3rd in TCE belonged to Synchro Motorsport.
Prior to this, the highest an A3-class entry had finished in the TCE division at a 24H SERIES event was the third race of 2016 at Silverstone, in which Team Altran Peugeot finished 4th overall. It would be 3.5 years before an A3 entry scored the category’s debut TCE podium.
*Check out the full list from Portimão HERE
15. Herberth Motorsport was involved in two of the 24H SERIES’ closest ever finishes in the same year!
At the end of a hotly contested 2019 Hankook 24H BARCELONA, in which eventual GT winner Barwell Motorsport (#77) and 2nd-placed Herberth Motorsport (#91) were rarely separated by more than a minute on-track, Dennis Lind beat Ralf Bohn to the chequered flag by just 10.481s.
This is the third closest finish in 24H SERIES history. And not even the tightest of the 2019 season.
At round three at Spa-Francorchamps, Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha (#11) beat Herberth Motorsport by a scant 7.871s, meaning, unfortunately, the #91 Porsche 911 GT3 R has been on the non-winning side of two of the three closest finishes in the series history. Not a record Robert and Alfred Renauer will wear with pride, we’re guessing…
For those of you who are curious, the closest finish in 24H SERIES history actually came at Mugello in 2014, when AF Corse bested Stadler Motorsport by just 5.417s. Ironically, three races later in Hungary, SPS automotive performance beat Hofor Racing by 36.795s to record the then-second closest finish in 24H SERIES history, a race that has since slipped to fourth in the all-time list.
16. Prior to this year’s Hankook 24H BARCELONA, it had been a LONG time since a 24H SERIES event featured anything close to 30 lead changes.
Seriously, the fight for the lead at the 2019 Hankook 24H BARCELONA could not have been tighter: of the 690 laps completed, Barwell Motorsport (#77) led 342 of them, Herberth Motorsport (#91), 328, and from lap 144 onwards, the lead was only ever with one of these two teams.
Impressive as that is, it’s not the true talking point of the race though. That would be the extraordinary 38 lead changes that took place across the whole 24-hour event. For context, Dubai, the biggest race on the calendar, featured ‘just’ 16, while the 12-hour, third round at Spa-Francporchamps had 24. To find the last time a 24H SERIES race came close to featuring more than 30 changes for the lead, you have to go back to the 2013 Hankook 24H DUBAI, won by Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon, at which the top spot switched hands 29 times.
17. Both Scuderia Praha and Autorama Motorsport sealed their respective European titles with their worst result of the season.
It goes to show how incredible this year’s 24H SERIES campaign has been for Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112) in the TCE division that 3rd marks the team’s ‘worst’ result of the year.
And yet it’s true. The Swiss outfit got its brand new alliance with Wolf Power Racing off to a storming start with TCE victory in the season-opening Hankook 24H DUBAI, following that up with a second just two months later in Mugello. A slight drop in momentum saw the team finish 2nd at Spa-Francorchamps – from the back of the field, no less – before returning to form with two further TCE wins at Brno and Portimão. The final step of the podium in Barcelona may represent a drop in form for the team(!) but was still enough to pit the Overall TCE Teams’ title out of reach.
Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha (#11) meanwhile endured a tough race in Catalunya, turbo issues and a bizarre problem with a stuck pedal box meaning the team could finish no higher than 10th overall and only 5th in-class. A unfortunate result in stark contrast to the four straight GT wins the Czech team took from Mugello to Portimão, plus the 3rd place first time out in Dubai.
Underwhelming though it may have been, the result was sufficient to secure the Overall GT Teams’ championship.
*Check out the full list from Barcelona HERE
18. Red Camel-Jordans.nl’s 9th place at this year’s Hankook 24H COTA USA was the best overall finish for a TCR car ever in the 24H SERIES.
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. Yikes!
19. COTA marked 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 FGT3. The Precote Herberth Motorsport Porsche 991 GT3 R collected a hat trick 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 had a 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
20. COTA also marked 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. 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
victory, Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101). Rounding out the top 10 meanwhile was 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 back to the 2016 Hankook 24H SILVERSTONE. At that event, Team ABBA with Rollcentre Racing took the Overall TCE
win, just one place ahead of TCR-class
victor, Team Bleekemolen. An incredible run saw A3
winners Team Altran Peugeot, RECY RACING TEAM and JJ Motorsport finish 4th, 5th and 6th respectively. Finally, A2-category
victor Modena Motorsports completed the overall top 10.
*Check out the full list from COTA HERE