Heading into the overnight intervention at this year’s Hankook 24H COTA USA, the Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#4, Ben Keating / Jeroen Bleekemolen / Felipe Fraga / Cooper MacNeil) currently leads the way after 11 hours of racing.
The German team, a former winner of the event, secured pole position at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas on Friday afternoon, and has thus far completed 278 laps around the 5.513km Formula 1 United States Grand Prix venue after a commanding run. Team Black Falcon will thus lead the field away at tomorrow’s restart, but having suffered a late-race puncture, will be taking no chances in the remaining 13 hours of the event.
“We’re very excited about the way the race has gone, but we’re not even at half-distance yet” Ben Keating told radiolemans.com’s Joe Bradley. “This track has a lot of character with all those bumps, and it’s so hard on the car, harder than it used to be. We’re being really careful and we can’t be too abusive.”
One lap further back, the Toksport WRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#90, Luca Stolz / Hendrik Still / Martin Konrad / Axcil Jefferies) will restart alongside its German compatriots on the front row of tomorrow’s grid after a strong run from 3rd on the grid. The sister #70 Mercedes (Nick Foster / Martin Berry / Eric Zang / George Kurtz) had been a strong contender for an overall podium spot early on, but has since fallen back after suffering a major oil leak.
Another former winner of the Hankook 24H COTA USA, Herberth Motorsport (#91, Daniel Allemann / Ralf Bohn / Robert Renauer / Alfred Renauer) rounds out both the overall and A6-Pro podium position thus far. Having hit the top spot early on, the Porsche 991 GT3 R has also led 82 laps so far.
Last year’s 24H SERIES Continents GT Drivers’ champions Charles Putman, Joe Foster and Charles Espenlaub, who sealed their title at last year’s COTA event, run 4th on the road. The trio, together with American compatriot Shane Lewis, also holds the lead in A6-Am in the CP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#85), despite earlier contact with the MONLAU COMPETICION Cupra.
The Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS (#34, Johannes Dr. Kirchhoff / Max Edelhoff / Gustav Edelhoff / Elmar Grimm / Ingo Vogler) holds 5th on the road and 2nd in A6-Am after the first 11 hours of racing in Austin, just ahead of the VOLT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R (#73, Trent Hindman / Jan Heylen / Alan Brynjolfsson / Richard Heistand). Further back, the HB Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 (#41, Nick Mancuso / Angelo Negro / Nikolaj Rogivue) has recovered from earlier fuel fill problems and now sits 7th on the road, 3rd in A6-Am.
After an impressive run, the Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche 991-II Cup (#906, Alan Metni / Wayne Ducote / David Ducote / Chapman Ducote / Andrew Davis) now lies 8th overall and 1st in the 991 class on its 24H SERIES powered by Hankook debut. Reigning 24H SERIES Europe 991 category champion Porsche Lorient Racing (#911, Jean-François Demorge / Eric Mouez / Dominique Bastien / Frédéric Ancel) holds 2nd in-class after a solid run, while the MRS GT-Racing Porsche 991-II Cup (#980, Nicola Michelon / Alexander Marmureanu / JM Littman / Constantin Schöll / David Roberts) has recovered from driveshaft failure to claim 3rd in-class.
The Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo Evo 2018 (#710, Harald Schlotter / Aleksander Schjerpen / Alexey Karachev / Denis Soglaev / Gregg Gorski) continues to lead the way in the SPX class. The Italian team now holds an 11-point advantage at the head of the Overall GT Teams’ 24H SERIES Continents standings.
One lap back, the Cor Euser Racing MARC II V8 (#717, Cor Euser / Einar Thorsen / Jim Briody / Sam Allpass / Ward Sluys), for which American endurance racing stalwart Jim Briody is competing in his final race, is 2nd in-class. The Black Falcon Team Textar Mercedes-AMG GTX (#464, Alex Böhm / Axel König / Norbert Schneider / Axel Sartingen / Daniel Schwerfeld) currently rounds out the SPX podium, and runs 11th on the road.
The ST Racing BMW M4 GT4 (#388, John Boyd / Harry Gottsacker / Anthony Lazzaro / Samantha Tan / Jason Wolfe) leads an attrition-hit GT4 class, just ahead of RHC Jorgensen/Strom BMW M4 GT4 (#450, Daren Jorgensen / Brett Strom / Danny van Dongen / Jon Miller). The American team, a former class podium finisher at the Hankook 24H COTA USA, has recovered from early overheating issues, and holds a slim advantage over the Sorg Rennsport BMW M4 GT4 (#451, Olaf Meyer / Björn Simon / Simon Tibbett / Jason Hart / Matt Travis). The latter is gunning for the 24H SERIES Continents championship in the GT4 class, and is still an outside contender for the Overall GT Teams’ title chase.
Despite losing power at the final corner, and bringing out the event’s fifth Code 60 inside the final five minutes, the Racers Edge Motorsports Sin R1 GT4 (#401, Ross Smith / Marco Di Leo / Dan DiLeo / Jade Buford) still holds 4th in GT4.