WTM Racing has secured its first outright win in the 24H SERIES at the Hankook 24H BARCELONA, with runner-up Phoenix Racing scoring enough points to be crowned the 2022 Overall GT Teams’ European champion.
Though WTM Racing (#22, Georg Weiss / Leonard Weiss / Nicolas Varrone / Daniel Keilwitz / Indy Dontje) started on the front row of the grid, and even took the lead during the opening two hours. A collision at turn 10 soon after ended up dropping the Ferrari to the tail of the top 20, but a strong performance throughout the night meant the 488 GT3, in its last 24H SERIES race, was soon battling for 3rd. Terminal issues for the GT frontrunners meant WTM Racing was back at the front shortly before daybreak.
Though chased hard by the Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II (#18, Michael Doppelmayr / Pierre Kaffer / Elia Erhart / Swen Herberger) during the closing stages, the Audi itself having recovered from an incredibly conservative opening stint, the WTM Racing Ferrari held firm, and eventually completed 666 laps of the 4.675km Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya en-route to victory. Indy Dontje drove the Ferrari across the line.
“It’s been four years since we were last on the top step,” an emotional Georg Weiss, team owner, explained to radiolemans.com’s Diana Binks. “In those four years, we’ve had 2nd places, we’ve had 3rd places, and now we are finally on the top step. This is unbelievable!”
“This is really great! A really great job by the team,” Indy Donte continued. “This is the last race for the beautiful 488 – ‘the last dance,’ you might say – and I’m really happy to finish the last race for the car like this.”
Following wins earlier this season at Spa-Francorchamps and Hockenheim, 2nd overall at the Hankook 24H BARCELONA was enough for Phoenix Racing to seal the 2022 Overall GT Teams’ European championship.
“In the end it was a great battle with the Ferrari until the last moment,” Pierre Kaffer explained. “We may have finished 2nd but we’ve won the European championship, so everything worked out and we are very pleased with this result. Thank you to the whole Phoenix Racing team, to all of my colleagues, and to Audi for a great car. It’s been really great to drive this year, and I’ve really enjoyed being a part of this program!”
Newly-crowned GT3-AM champion CP Racing (#85, Charles Putman / Charles Espenlaub / Joe Foster / Shane Lewis) completes the overall podium with its Mercedes-AMG GT3, just ahead of the Poulsen Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 (#14, Roland Poulsen / Kristian Poulsen / Christoffer Nygaard / Alfred Nilsson) which finished a strong 4th on its first 24H SERIES start since 2016.
A close fight for 5th overall eventually went the way of the Huber Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R (#23, Jörg Dreisow / Alexander Schwarzer / Manuel Lauck / Wolfgang Triller / Marc Basseng), which finished just 27s ahead of DINAMIC Motorsport’s GT3 R (#54, Roberto Pampanini / Amedeo Pampanini / Stefano Monaco / Nicolas Stürzinger) after an on-track pass inside the closing 30 minutes. Behind the pair, the JUTA Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 (#71, Eimantas Navikauskas / Aurimas Jablonskis / Paul August / Lars Viljoen / Jonas Gelžinis) finished a solid 7th, despite losing time to fluctuating tyre pressures.
Red Ant Racing (#903, Ayrton Redant / Bert Redant / Yannick Redant / Sam Dejonghe) has secured its third ‘992’ class win of the season, and the 992 Teams’ European championship, after a metronomic run in Catalunya with its Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. The Belgian team finished six laps clear of HRT Performance (#928, Gijs Bessem / Bob Herber / JM Littman / Mirko van Oostrum), which took a similarly commanding 992-AM class victory.
Further back, an extraordinary fight for the final spot in the overall top 10 went down to the wire, HRT’s second entry (#929, Antti Buri / Kari-Pekka Laaksonen / Jim Rautiainen / Constantin Kletzer) moving ahead of SebLajoux Racing by DUWO Racing (#908, Sebastien Lajoux / David Sarny / Laurent Cochard / Laurent Misbach) with just 30 minutes left on the clock. Series newcomer Three Sixty Racing Team (#926, Marcio Mauro / JP Mauro / Alan Hellmeister / Lucas Salles / Nelson Monteiro) completes the 992-AM podium.
The UAE’s Rabdan Motorsport (#977, Saif Alamer / Nikolai Gadetskii / Thierry Vermeulen / Enrico Fernando Fulgenz) had been in 992 podium contention early on but eventually retired in the closing hour due to a loss of oil pressure.
Behind the 992 leaders, outgoing 991 Teams’ champion Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors (#955, Fabrizio Broggi / Sergiu Nicolae / Sabino de Castro) comfortably secured class victory on its first 24H SERIES outing since Mugello. 2nd in-class, following a gearbox change on Sunday morning, was still enough for Spain’s E2P Racing (#910, Pablo Burguera / Manuel Cintrano / Jaime Garcia / Antonio Sainero / Javier Morcillo) to secure the 2022 991 Teams’ crown on home turf.
The Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (#710, Kerong Li / Jean-Francois Brunot / Gerhard Watzinger / Gregg Gorski / Brendon Leitch) battled collision damage and race-long brake issues to take GTX class victory in Barcelona ahead of title rival RD Signs – Siauliai racing team (#720, Audrius Butkevicius / Nicola Michelon / Paulius Paskevicius / Arturs Batraks / Alfredo Hernandez). Amazingly, the Lithuanian team, which also ran a Huracán Super Trofeo this weekend, ‘started’ the race against the pitwall following a start-line collision, but managed to leapfrog the Vortex V8 (#701, Arnaud Gomez / Olivier Gomez / Lucas Lasserre) for 2nd in-class after the latter suffered repeat power loss problems.
AtlasBX Motorsports (#403, Steven Cho / Roelof Bruins / Jong Kyum Kim / Taekeun Yang / HA Tae Young) made a successful return to the 24H SERIES in Barcelona with victory in GT4. The Mercedes-AMG GT4 was aided by the retirement of the Senkyr Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 (#444, Samuel Vetrak / Marian Biz / Petr Svantner / Ladislav Smucr / Richard Gonda), which suffered engine failure after a stone punctured the radiator.
In one of the event’s more high-profile retirements, the ST Racing BMW M4 GT3 (#1, Samantha Tan / Nick Wittmer / Bryson Morris / Steven Aghakhani) had looked on course for a strong result on its return to the 24H SERIES, only for head gasket failure to eliminate the BWM at 02.00 hrs local time. Engine failure early on Sunday morning, brought about an oil leak and a fractured radiator, similarly robbed the pole-sitting Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R (#91, Daniel Allemann / Ralf Bohn / Alfred Renauer / Robert Renauer / Jürgen Häring) of a potential 3rd place overall.
In lighter news, 2017 Overall GT Teams’ champion Hofor Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#11, Michael Kroll / Chantal Prinz / Alexander Prinz / Max Partl / Thomas Mühlenz), which made its first 24H SERIES start since 2019 this weekend, received radiolemans.com’s ‘Spirit of the Race’ award in Barcelona. Having run consistently in the overall top 10 during the first half of the event, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 fought back from broken suspension and an ruptured exhaust – caused by separate on-track incidents – to claim 12th overall.