Black Falcon powered to victory over the weekend at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, in the 2018 24 Hours of CoTA, its #3 Mercedes AMG GT3 of Yelmer Buurman, Mike Skeen, Scott Heckert and Bret Curtis completing 603 laps en route to the win.
The winning quartet beat out 24H Series veteran team Herberth Motorsport in the battle for the overall honours, the German outfit’s #911 Porsche 911 GT3 R of Daniel Allemann, Ralf Bohn, Robert Renauer and Alfred Renauer coming one lap short of the win, after leading the two-part race at the end of the halfway mark, by a lap over the eventual winners in the #3.
“This Black Falcon team did an awesome job and the Mercedes-AMG was fantastic all day long,” Mike Skeen explained to radiolemans.com’s Joe Bradley.
“We knew we were in a good position last night when we finished part one (in second) and we just had to execute today. We knew we had good pace compared with the Porsche, we knew they had penalties coming, so we just had to stick to the plan and go at it!”
Completing the overall podium in the race was the #85 PROsport Mercedes of Charles Putman, Charles Espenlaub, Joe Foster and Adam Christodoulou which won the GT Championship of the Continents in its first season of racing with the AMG GT3, with its podium finish in the race.
The #85, which also won the A6 AM class in the race, finished seven laps off the winning car, but just over a minute and 40 seconds ahead of the #24 SPS Performance Mercedes of Alexandre Coigny, Richard Feller and Antonin Borga which narrowly missed out on the overall podium. SPS did however, finish second in AM with its strong run to fourth overall.
Completing the top five was the sole-remaining Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG 003C by the end of the race. The team’s #704 of Jeff Westphal, Andreas Simonsen, Jon Miller and Craig Stanton retired with a gearbox issue, while the sister car of Thomas Mutsch, Franck Mailleux, Felipe Fernández Laser and Piero Longh went on to finish fifth, completing 587 laps, good enough for third in the A6 PRO class.
In the first half of the race it looked like Black Falcon’s #2 Mercedes was on track for a dominant win. The car built a three lap lead on the field by the 10th hour of the race, before disaster struck on lap 259. Hubert Haupt came into contact with the #85 PROsport Mercedes while attempting to put another lap on it at The Esses, damaging the car significantly. Haupt made it back to the pits, but the team was forced to retire the car after two hours of repair work.
The #85 meanwhile, continued, and as mentioned above, finished third overall, the team repairing the rear-end of the car after the subsequent Code 60 period caused by the contact.
Another key contender also had its chances of victory dashed by an incident, the #62 R-Motorsport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3. The Swiss outfit, which starred in the Blancpain Endurance Cup this season, scored pole position, but went on to cross the line 14th overall on Sunday.
The turning point came when Peter Leemhuis had an off at Turn 16 in the first half of the race, which cost the team 40 minutes in the pits for repairs. It was nevertheless a strong finish for the team, which pushed hard to get the car to the finish.
Elsewhere in the race, the top three in the GT4 class finished in the Top 10 overall, the #272 Classic BMW BMW M4 GT4 of Mike Vess, Jason Hart, Andrew Davis, Curt Swearingin and Matt Travis leading home the #890 RENNtech Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4 and #113 RHC Jorgensen/Strom BMW M4 GT4.
The 24H TCE Series runners were also in the race.
Bas Koeten Racing took a dominant 1-2 finish, its #129 CUPRA TCR of Antti Buri, Olli Kangas, Kari-Pekka Laaksonen and Ronny Jost led the sister #175 NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing CUPRA TCR shared by Gijs Bessem, Harry Hilders and Roeland Voerman across the finish line.
The team’s two Seats completed 550 and 549 laps of the circuit respectively; the third place car in the class, the #110 Lestrup Racing Team Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR SEQ, finishing 18 laps adrift.
“It’s amazing,” an overjoyed Bas Koeten explained to radiolemans.com’s Bruce Jones. “It was so close when they were fighting each other, but… it’s just so incredible. I have no words for how happy I am!”
Hofor Racing powered by Bonk Motorsport BMW secured the TCE Championship of the Continents. The team scored its seventh consecutive CUP1 class win, finshing sixth place overall in TCE, adding the Overall Teams and CUP1 class Championship of the Continents to the European Championship titles the Swiss team secured last time out at Spa.