Reigning Overall GT Teams’ champion ST Racing currently leads a three-way fight for victory at the 2022 Hankook 12H MUGELLO after the opening 5.5 hours at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello.
Having qualified on the front row, the ST Racing BMW M4 GT3 (#1, Samantha Tan / Bryson Morris / Nick Wittmer) immediately got the jump on the pole sitting Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II (#18, Michael Doppelmayr / Pierre Kaffer / Elia Erhart / Swen Herberger), leading outright for the opening 10 laps before the Audi R8 retook the position.
A strategic pit stop during the first of eight Code 60 caution periods so far, plus an early puncture, saw the Phoenix Racing Audi briefly drop out of the top 20, allowing the MANN-FILTER Team LANDGRAF Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#25, Alexander Hrachowina / Martin Konrad / Bernd Schneider) to join the battle for the lead. Consistent running thereafter though, plus a late splash-and-dash for LANDGRAF, meant the Phoenix Racing Audi finished 1.5 seconds adrift of the #25 Mercedes. Both also finished just over 60 seconds behind the ST Racing BMW.
This means the overall top three will take tomorrow’s restart on the same lap.
The JUTA Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO I (#71, Julius Adomavičius / Andrius Gelžinis / Jonas Gelžinis) and the Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 (#8, Marco Frezza / David Fumanelli / Alessandro Cutrera / Marco Talarico / ‘L.M.D.V.’), both of which led the Hankook 12H MUGELLO outright during the opening stages, currently round out the overall top five, and are still well in contention for a GT podium finish.
CP Racing suffered a heart-stopping moment when its Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#85, Charles Putman / Charles Espenlaub / Joe Foster) briefly rolled to a stop on-track with just over 10 minutes left on the clock. Despite losing 5th on the road to Kessel Racing, the American team was able to recover and retain 6th place overall ahead of the MP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#58, Thomas Gostner / David Gostner / Corinna Gostner / Giorgio Sernagiotto).
Inaugural Overall GT Teams’ ‘Continents’ champion Herberth Motorsport (#91, Ralf Bohn / Daniel Allemann / Robert Renauer / Alfred Renauer) had a Saturday to forget in Mugello. An early puncture dropped the Porsche 911 GT3 R out of the top 20 in the very early going. Having recovered, Herberth then lost further time in two separate on-track incidents that put the #91 Porsche into the gravel on both occasions: the first with the SK Racing Ligier JS2 R (#215, Franck Eburderie / Franco Lemma / Jérôme Dacosta / Franck Lavergne), the second with one of three Vortex 1.0s competing at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello this weekend (#702, Patrick Brochier / Gilles Courtois / Nicolas Nobs). Despite this, Herberth Motorsport is still running 8th overall.
Behind the SAINTéLOC Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II (#26, Olivier Esteves / Pierre-Yves Paque / Christian Kelders / Simon Gachet), the Earl Bamber Motorsport Porsche 991 GT3 R (#61, Adrian D’Silva / Matthew Payne / Reid Harker) rounds out the top 10 so far. The New Zealand team had been running in the top three and even led the race outright during the early going, but lost several minutes in the pits when the Porsche’s floor came loose.
The BoDa by Bas Koeten Racing Bentley Continental GT3 (#6, Bob Herber / Marcel van Berlo) became the first example of the luxury British sports car to lead a lap outright at a 24H SERIES event this morning, but has since dropped to the tail of the field after suffering repeated ABS issues.
In total, seven different teams, representing six different manufacturers, have led the Hankook 12H MUGELLO outright during the opening 5.5 hours.
The returning RD Signs – Siauliai racing team Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (#720, Audrius Butkevicius / Nicola Michelon / Paulius Paskevicius) currently holds a comfortable lead in GTX after a metronomic run from class pole position, albeit one briefly delayed by a time penalty accrued for an unsafe release after a pit stop. Despite a couple of off-track moments, HRT Performance (#728, Kerong Li / Jean-Francois Brunot) is 2nd in-class on Li and Brunot’s first weekend aboard the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
The Vortex V8 Vortex 1.0 (#703, Pierre Fontaine / Christophe Decultot / Philippe Gruau) rounds out the GTX podium thus far, despite the lightweight French sports car dramatically losing power during the opening stages.
The fight for 992 category victory couldn’t be closer, with Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#909, Ivo Breukers / Luc Breukers / Rik Breukers) leading HRT Performance (#929, Gustav Bergström / Johan Kristoffersson / Ole Veiby) over the line by 4.1 seconds after nearly six hours of racing.
Mirroring a similarly impressive early performance in Dubai, Red Ant Racing holds a 1-3 in the 992-AM class, with the #903 Porsche (Ayrton Redant / Bert Redant / Yannick Redant) currently ahead of the sister #904 (Philippe Wils / Kurt Hensen / Andreas Mayrl). The Orchid Racing Team (#917, Loic Villiger / Frank Villiger / Laurent Misbach / Fabio Spirgi) is sandwiched between the two Belgian entries.
EBIMOTORS is running 1-2 in the 991 class, the Italian team’s #974 911-II Cup (Luigi Peroni / Pietro Negra / Massimiliano Donzelli / Massimiliano Montagnese) leading the sister #973 entry (#973, Paolo Venerosi / Gianluca Giorgi / Gianluigi Piccioli / ‘Spezz’) across the line by an astoundingly close seven-tenths of a second in a near dead-heat.
Reigning category champion Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors Porsche 911-II Cup (#955, Fabrizio Broggi / Sergiu Nicolae / Sabino de Castro) is unlikely to continue running in the Hankook 12H MUGELLO following a high-speed accident at Biondetti mid-afternoon. Fortunately, Fabrizio Broggi emerged unscathed from the incident and is recovering well.
Having suffered two separate punctures during the afternoon – both on the front left corner – the Team ACP-Tangerine Associates by VEIDEC JJ Motosport BMW M4 GT4 (#421, Catesby Jones / Wim Spinoy) has now slipped behind the Orchid Racing Team Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CS MR (#417, Alexandre Mottet / Stefan Chaligne / Antoine Leclerc / Antonio Garzon) in the GT4 category. Nevertheless, the pair will take tomorrow’s restart from the same row of the grid.
TCE polesitter BBR (#159, Chariya Nuya / Kantadhee Kusiri / Kantasak Kusiri / Tanart Sathienthirakul) continues its Dubai-winning form in Mugello, and currently holds the overall division lead with its CUPRA Leon Competición TCR after 5.5 hours. The Holmgaard Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR (#102, Magnus Holmgaard / Jonas Holmgaard / Roy Edland / Martin Vedel Mortensen) is on course to secure its best ever result in the 24H SERIES, and runs 2nd at the moment ahead of the Wolf-Power Racing Audi RS3 LMS (#116, Jasmin Preisig / Marcus Menden / Ivars Vallers). Having stretched its opening fuel stint longer than every other TCE entrant, early division leader NOKER racing team (#104, Kestutis Stasionis / Sten-Dorian Piirimägi / Jonas Karklys / Antti Rammo) is 4th in-class with its Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR.
The Valluga Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CS (#205, Bradley Ellis / Leo Loucas / Rhea Loucas / Charles Hollings) continues to lead the TCX class, and had been leading the TCE division in its entirety before suffering a left rear puncture. After recovering from its early collision with the Herberth Motorsport Porsche, the SK Racing Ligier is still running 2nd in-class and rounds out the overall top five in TCE.
The Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport BMW M2 CS Racing (#332, Michael Mayer / Volker Piepmeyer / Jürgen Meyer / Michael Bonk) holds a comfortable advantage in the TC class after its sister entry (#331, Rainer Partl / Hermann Bock / Martin Kroll / Michael Bonk) lost time early on in an early collision with the Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II (#34, Johannes Dr. Kirchhoff / Elmar Grimm / Wiggo Dalmo). Both cars ended up in the gravel, but while the GT3 Audi has since climbed back up the order to 27th, the TC BMW remains at the tail of the field after losing an hour in the garage for repairs.
Following an overnight intervention, the 2022 Hankook 12H MUGELLO will resume at 09.00 hrs local time on Sunday 27 March at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello, and will thereafter run uninterrupted until the chequered flag is flown at 15.30 hrs. Live streaming of the race in HD quality will be available on our official website and the 24H SERIES YouTube channel. Regular updates will be published on Twitter (@24HSeries), Facebook (24H Series) and Instagram (24H Series). Further information can be found at 24hseries.com.