After four hours of frenetic action, the Ram Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#5, Remon Leonard Vos / Tom Onslow-Cole) leads the 2018 Hankook 12H IMOLA, having completed 120 laps of the 4.909km Autodromo Enzo e Dino. The British-entered Mercedes comfortably led the opening 32 laps after qualifying on pole position by the narrowest of margins, and having survived increasingly scorching temperatures, now holds a slim lead over the Forch Racing Porsche 991 GT3 R (#29, Zeljko Drmic / Patrick Eisemann / Robert Lukas) and the Herberth Motorsport Porsche 991 GT3 R (#911, Daniel Allemann / Ralf Bohn / Robert Renauer / Alfred Renauer).
“Fantastic start to the race,” explained Tom Onslow-Cole, who’s teammate Remon Leonard Vos narrowly avoided on-coming traffic when he spun at Rivazza in the closing stages. “I think in terms of fuel and tyres, we’re on a pretty good strategy. I’d love to tell you it’s all gone smoothly, but it’s been a real fight and I think we’ve been given a bit of a ‘get out of jail’ free card.”
Having led outright after the second round of pit stops, the Swiss Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#15, Roberto Pampanini / Christoph Lenz / Mauro Calamia) heads the A6-Am class. Running 4th on the road, the distinctive green Mercedes finished the ‘first part’ of the race just ahead of the IDEC SPORT RACING Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#17, Patrice Lafargue / Paul Lafargue / Dimitri Enjalbert) and fellow A6-Am entrant, PROsport Performance (#85, Charles Putman / Charles Espenlaub / Joe Foster). Last year’s event winner Car Collection Motorsport (#33, Ali Çapan / Siegfried Kuzdas / Horst Felbermayr Jr. / Isaac Tutumlu Lopez) rounds out the A6-Am top three.
The Hofor-Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#1, Michael Kroll / Chantal Prinz / Roland Eggimann / Kenneth Heyer / Christiaan Frankenhout) had looked set to contend for victory after starting alongside Ram Racing on the front row, only for an overheated gearbox to lose the Mercedes-AMG GT3 almost two hours in the garage. Fellow Mercedes runners SPS automotive performance meanwhile (#16, Valentin Pierburg / Tim Müller / Lance-David Arnold) also led in the opening stages, but has now retired from the event with terminal chassis damage.
Having qualified fastest of the 991 runners, the Raceunion Porsche 991-II Cup (#187, Alex Autumn / Felipe Fernández Laser / Andreas Gülden) now leads the 991-category. The German team had run as high as 5th overall at one stage, but still faces stiff competition from EBIMOTORS (#73, Lino Curti / Carlo Curti / Marco Frezza) and Porsche Lorient Racing (#64, Philippe Polette / Frederic Lelievre / Pascal Gibon / Mathieu Pontais).
Running just behind Raceunion on the road, local team GDL Racing (#77, Gianluca De Lorenzi / Andres Josephsohn / Dimitris Deverikos) currently leads the SPX class. The Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo – the only Raging Bull in the race – has pulled a significant gap to the pursuing Speed Lover Porsche 991-II Cup (#78, Andrey Mukovoz / Stanislav Sidoruk / Sergey Peregudov / Kim André Hauschild) and the VDS Racing Adventures MARC Focus V8 (#58, Raphaël van der Straten / José Close / Gregory Paisse), the latter of which spent considerable time in the garage repairing heavy front end damage.
Modena Motorsports back on top
Despite a slow start from pole position, the Modena Motorsports CUPRA TCR (#216, Wayne Shen / John Shen / Francis Tjia / Mathias Beche) has retaken the lead of the TCE division at Imola. The Hong Kong-entered CUPRA had qualified ahead of the Red Camel-Jordans.nl SEAT Leon TCR (#303, Ivo Breukers / Rik Breukers) earlier this morning but was jumped shortly after the green flag. The #303 would lead comfortably throughout the opening four hours, but has since dropped back to 2nd in-class, barely 45 seconds behind the leading CUPRA. The NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing CUPRA TCR (#175, Gijs Bessem / Harry Hilders) rounds out the TCR podium at quarter-distance.
On the road, Modena Motorsports and Red Camel-Jordans.nl are split by the JR Motorsport BMW E46 Coupé (#118, Bas Schouten / Ward Sluys), which currently lies 2nd in the TCE field and holds the SP3 class lead. The placement of Munckhof Racing BMW M4 (#259, Frank Bedorf / Marco Poland) and the Scangrip Racing BMW 335i (#786, Niels Borum / Michael Eden) suggest an all-BMW podium could be on the cards in SP3.
In CUP1, the Hofor Racing powered bei Bonk Motorsport BMW M235i Racing Cup (#131, Martin Kroll / Michael Schrey / Michael Fischer / Bernd Küpper / Gustav Engljaehringer) sits just ahead of the Sorg Rennsport BMW M235i Racing Cup (#151, Dan Rogers / Gama Aguilar / Rob Cohen / Seth Thomas), the latter spinning into the gravel trap at Rivazza with just two minutes of the opening race left to run. The second Hofor Racing powered bei Bonk Motorsport entry (#127, Martin Kroll / Jurgen Meyer / Axel Burghardt) lies 3rd in-class.
After a brief overnight hiatus, the 2018 Hankook 12H IMOLA will restart tomorrow at 11.30 hrs local time, and will continue uninterrupted until 19.30 hrs. Live timing and live streaming of the race in HD quality with commentary by Radiolemans.com will be available on the series’ website. The streaming will also be uploaded on the series’ Youtube channel. Regular updates will be published on Twitter (@24HSeries), Facebook (24H Series) and Instagram (24H Series). Further information can be found at www.24hseries.com.