Herberth Motorsport secured an overall victory at the Hankook 12H Circuit Paul Ricard after a race-long battle with the MiddleCap racing with Scuderia Praha Ferrari.
The Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R (#91, Ralf Bohn / Daniel Allemann / Robert Renauer / Alfred Renauer) started on the front row alongside the pole-sitting MiddleCap racing with Scuderia Praha Ferrari 488 GT3 (#11, Josef Král / Miroslav Výboh / Matúš Výboh), and despite slipping back to 4th during the opening pit stop shuffle, used the Code 60 caution periods to perfection to jump to the front of the GT division shortly thereafter. The lead then swapped back and forth repeatedly between the Porsche and the Ferrari before a succession of fast stints at half-distance allowed Herberth Motorsport to pull away.
Ralf Bohn collected the chequered flag and for Herberth Motorsport completed 315 laps of the 5.842km Circuit Paul Ricard en-route to victory. The result marks the third time the Bavarian team has won a 24H SERIES event at Circuit Paul Ricard.
“It’s not me [that] is the winner, it’s the whole team, and I want to say a big thank you to everyone involved,” Ralf Bohn explained to radiolemans.com’s Lukas Gajewski. “They always do a really good job for us, and I want to thank all of them for this win. Great result!”
Amazingly, on his way to securing 2nd place for MiddleCap racing with Scuderia Praha, Josef Král set the event’s fastest lap – a 2m 03.848s – on his penultimate tour. Behind the top two, the Rutronik Racing by TECE Audi R8 LMS GT3 (#18, Michael Doppelmayr / Pierre Kaffer / Elia Erhart / Swen Herberger) claimed the final spot on the overall GT podium on only its second 24H SERIES outing.
After a sensational performance, the Reiter Engineering KTM X-BOW GTX (#724, Eike Angermayr / Nicolai Elghanayan / Horst Felbermayr Jr. / Mads Siljehaug) claimed a commanding GTX class win and finished 5th on the road, just behind the Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 (#88, Milan Dontje / Pierre-Yves Paque / Tim Müller / Robin Rogalski) with which the KTM had earlier battled on-track.
The returning SPS automotive performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#20, Valentin Pierburg / Christian Hook / Steffen Görig) finished a hard-earned 6th, despite contact in the opening laps causing lasting damage to the Mercedes’ front right diffuser. The component was eventually replaced altogether, dropping the German team out of podium contention.
The Porsche Lorient Racing Porsche 911-II Cup (#911, Philippe Polette / Frederic Lelievre / Lionel Amrouche / Frédéric Ancel) made an impressive return to the 24H SERIES with 7th overall in the GT division and 991-class victory, despite being hit on the entry to the Mistral Straight by the RC2 Junior Team by Cabra Racing CUPRA. Suspension failure two hours in dropped the team’s nearest rival – the DUWO Racing Porsche 991-II Cup (#909, Andrey Mukovoz / Stanislav Sidoruk / Sergey Peregudov) – an hour behind, although the Luxembourg team survived to finish 2nd in-class and 14th overall. Stuck in gear, the second Speed Lover entry (#978, Olivier Dons / Dominique Bastien / Eric Mouez) lost more than two hours in the pits, but managed to secure the final spot on the 991-class rostrum.
Speed Lover (#979, Jean-Pierre Verhoeven / Jaxon Verhoeven / Gilles Smits) finished an impressive 8th overall and 2nd in the GTX class on the maiden competitive endurance outing for the new 992-generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, one rogue puncture aside. Despite losing an hour to accident damage at the beginning of the race, the Vortex V8 Vortex 1.0 (#701, Olivier Gomez / Bastien Gouret / Philippe Gruau) beat its sister entry (#712, Philippe Bonnel / Pierre Fontaine / Nicolas Nobs) to the final spot on the GTX podium.
Bad luck plagued the GT4 class runners meanwhile. PROsport Racing (#401, Nico Verdonck / Rodrigue Gillion / Kurt Hensen) was unable to contest qualifying at all after a collision left its lead Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 heavily damaged. Having started the race with its spare car, the German team later suffered turbocharger problems, but managed to re-join the race to secure class victory. The ST Racing BMW M4 GT4 meanwhile (#438, Samantha Tan / Chandler Hull / Jon Miller) retired shortly before half distance with terminal engine problems.
The Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 (#8, L.M.D.V / Alessandro Cutrera / Marco Talarico / Marco Frezza / Nicola Cadei) and the second Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R (#92, Jürgen Häring / Bobby Gonzales / Stefan Aust / Marco Seefried) were among the most high-profile retirements from the GT division. Both were involved in a high-speed collision with the MP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo (#58, Thomas Gostner / David Gostner / Corinna Gostner) on the opening lap. Incredibly, the MP Racing Mercedes survived the impact and, despite losing 30 minutes to a second collision later on, went on the finish 11th overall.
The Kessel Ferrari however suffered heavy damage to its front left suspension and eventually retired without a single classified lap on the board. The Herberth Porsche returned to the track after an hour’s-worth of repairs, but was later withdrawn from the race.