The Herberth Motorsport Porsche 991 GT3 R (#911, Daniel Allemann / Ralf Bohn / Robert Renauer / Alfred Renauer) has secured its first victory of the 2018 24H SERIES season in Imola, the race split across four hours of action on Friday with the 8 hour balance on Saturday.
Robert Renauer crossed the line to complete 347 laps of the 4.909km Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, and take the Bavarian team’s first series victory since last November’s season finale in Texas, USA.
In a dramatic final hour of the 2018 Hankook 12H IMOLA, during which almost all of the front runners suffered problems in the high ambient temperatures, Herberth Motorsport narrowly edged both the IDEC Sport Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#17, Patrice Lafargue / Paul Lafargue / Dimitri Enjalbert) and the Forch Racing Porsche 991 GT3 R (#29, Zeljko Drmic / Patrick Eisemann / Robert Lukas), the pair dicing for the final A6-Pro podium positions well into the closing stages.
Initially, the A6-Pro runners-up spot had looked set to go the way of the Ram Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#5, Remon Leonard Vos / Tom Onslow-Cole). The GT polesitter led for most of the opening four hours on Friday and continued to push the Herberth Motorsport Porsche hard well into the closing stages. Debilitating brake issues and a collision on-track within just 15 minutes of the race left to run meant the British team dropped to 5th. Incredibly, the Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha Ferrari 488 GT3 (#11, Jiří Písařík / Josef Kral / Matteo Malucelli) would recover from damage sustained early on to snatch 4th on the very final lap of the race.
“It was such a long race!” 24H GT race winner Robert Renauer explained to radiolemans.com. “In the end, the Ram Racing Mercedes struggled a little at the end, but they pushed us really hard, it was a hard fight against them, and it was just a case of bringing the car home. So I’m very happy, it’s the first podium of the year, and I’m really proud of my team!”
Despite suffering engine issues with just 30 minutes of running time left, the PROsport Performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#85, Charles Putman / Charles Espenlaub / Joe Foster) claimed its first A6-Am class win of the season. The runners-up spot was claimed by the Swiss Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#15, Roberto Pampanini / Christoph Lenz / Mauro Calamia), which had also been a contender for the outright podium heading into the final hour only for terminal suspension and brake damage eliminating the Mercedes from contention, quite literally, at the 11th hour. The final A6-Am podium spot would go to the Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS (#34, Johannes Dr. Kirchhoff / Gustav Edelhoff / Ingo Vogler), despite an exploding brake disc dropping them well down the order on Friday afternoon. The result means the German team holds only a one-point advantage at the top of the 2018 GT European Championship
Further back, the GDL Racing Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (#77, Gianluca De Lorenzi / Andres Josephsohn / Dimitris Deverikos) finished an impressive 6th overall behind the A6-Pro runners to claim a popular win in the SPX class. The San Marino-based team finished its home race comfortably ahead of the Speed Lover Porsche 991-II Cup (#78, Andrey Mukovoz / Stanislav Sidoruk / Sergey Peregudov / Kim André Hauschild), while the VDS Racing Adventures MARC Focus V8 (#58, Raphaël van der Straten / José Close / Gregory Paisse) finished 3rd in-class, almost 50 laps behind after extensive front end damage cost the reigning SP2 champions several hours in the pits.
Despite a late-race puncture, the EBIMOTORS Porsche 991-I Cup (#73, Lino Curti / Carlo Curti / Marco Frezza) secured its second consecutive 991-class win of the season at the Hankook 12H IMOLA, having also taken the win last time out at Navarra. The first of two Porsche Lorient Racing Porsche 991-I Cups (#64, Philippe Polette / Frederic Lelievre / Pascal Gibon / Mathieu Pontais) claimed 2nd in-class and finished 8th overall, while the Van Berlo Racing Porsche 991-I Cup (#56, Kay van Berlo / Marcel van Berlo) recovered from a hefty shunt on-track – an impact that knocked the driver’s side door off completely – to round out the overall Top 10 and claim 3rd in the 991-class.
GT4 was another category hit with technical difficulties. The class-winning Allied Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 MR Evo 2018 (#263, Dominique Schaak / Detlef Schmidt / Nicolas Schöll / Jörg Viebahn) clashed heavily with the Ram Racing Mercedes very late on, and would roll to a halt on the final lap. The QSR Racingschool Mercedes-AMG GT4 (#254, Mario Timmers / Bert Redant / Michiel Verhaeren / Jimmy de Breucker) meanwhile lost considerable time with broken front suspension, but recovered to take 2nd in-class.
In the TCE division, the LMS Racing by Bas Koeten Racing CUPRA TCR (#129, Antti Buri / Olli Kangas) secured its first class win of the season at the Hankook 12H IMOLA, and its first since last year’s event at Spa-Francorchamps. The Finnish team also led home a Bas Koeten Racing 1-2 ahead of the sister entry.
Even after a spin into the gravel trap at Tamburello – an incident that caused one of an eventual 16 Code 60 caution periods on Saturday – the Scangrip Racing BMW 335i (#786, Niels Borum / Michael Eden) claimed a shock SP3 class win at Imola. Victory had looked all but guaranteed for the JR Motorsport BMW E46 Coupé (#118, Ward Sluys / Bas Schouten / Steven Liquorish), which led comfortably throughout the afternoon before losing almost 30 laps in the pits. The final SP3 podium spot went to the Munckhof Racing BMW M4 (#259, Frank Bedorf / Marco Poland).
The Hofor Racing powered bei Bonk Motorsport BMW M235i Racing Cup (#131, Martin Kroll / Michael Schrey / Michael Fischer / Bernd Küpper / Gustav Engljaehringer) took its third consecutive CUP1 class win this year at the Hankook 12H IMOLA, just ahead of its sister #127 entry (Martin Kroll / Jurgen Meyer / Axel Burghardt) and the Sorg Rennsport BMW M235i Racing Cup (#151, Dan Rogers / Gama Aguilar / Rob Cohen / Seth Thomas). It’s a result that moves the #131 BMW to the top of the 2018 TCE European Championship standings, two points clear of the TCR-winning LMS Racing by Bas Koeten Racing.