Hankook 12H MUGELLO record holder Herberth Motorsport on pole for 2023 edition

Herberth Motorsport has secured its first outright pole position of 2023 24H SERIES powered by Hankook season after a climactic fight for the top spot with The Heart of Racing by SPS.

The Heart of Racing by SPS Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#27, Ian James / Gray Newell / Roman De Angelis), in the American team’s second race in collaboration with SPS automotive performance, went into the final stages of qualifying a microscopic 0.047s ahead of the Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R (#91, Daniel Allemann / Ralf Bohn / Alfred Renauer / Robert Renauer). Gray Newell ultimately could not overhaul a flying Robert Renauer though, who set the fastest lap of Q3 on his final run.

Herberth Motorsport, an outright three-time winner of the Hankook 12H MUGELLO already, posted an average best of 1m 48.948s around the 5.245km Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello to secure pole position. This marks the Bavarian team’s first outright pole in the 24H SERIES since last year’s Hankook 24H BARCELONA, and the best yet for The Heart of Racing by SPS, which will also start from the front row.

Further back, the AKKODIS ASP Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#88, Mauro Ricci / Jean-Luc Beaubelique / Jérôme Policand / Benjamin Ricci) emerged on top of an equally fraught battle for 3rd on the grid ahead of the Saintéloc Junior Team Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II (#26, Erwan Bastard / Paul Evrard). AKKODIS ended a stop-start Q1 as the fastest Q1 runner, but lost time and momentum with a spin early on during Q2. A last gasp run from Saintéloc saw the French team fall just 0.008s short of leapfrogging its compatriot.

Reigning GT Continents Trophy winner CP Racing (#85, Charles Putman / Charles Espenlaub / Shane Lewis) will start 5th. The American team endured a difficult start to qualifying when the Mercedes-AMG GT3 ended up in the gravel after a near-miss with the HRT Performance Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (#930, Bob Herber / Marcel Van Berlo) at Palagio. Both were able to continue after a brief red flag period.

The Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II (#55, Stefan Wieninger / Tim Müller / Christopher Mies) posted the overall fastest lap of the entire GT qualifying session – a 1m 47.652s courtesy of 2022 Hankook 24H DUBAI winner Christopher Mies – and will start 6th, just lapped on average just 0.040s slower than CP Racing. After a stellar series debut in Dubai, the HAAS RT Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II (#21, Mathieu Detry / Stéphane Perrin / Frédéric Vervisch) begins its first full 24H SERIES European season from 7th on the grid.

Behind the Juta Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II (#71, Yevgen Sokolovskiy / Vytenis Gulbinas / Arunas Geciauskas / Jonas Gelžinis), the returning Red Ant Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (#903, Ayrton Redant / Yannick Redant / Kobe de Breucker), which took 992 Teams’ honours last year in the 24H SERIES, will start 9th overall and from 992 class pole position. One place further back, the Hofor-Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#11, Michael Kroll / Chantal Prinz / Alexander Prinz / Carsten Tilke), which ended a stop-start Q1 with the third fastest time, rounds out the overall top 10 on the grid.

Amazingly, the returning Kessel Racing (#8, ‘L.M.D.V.’ / Alessandro Cutrera / Marco Talarico / Marco Frezza / David Fumanelli), which fields the only Ferrari 488 GT3 in the field, will start 30th after failing to set a time at all during Q1. The Swiss team’s only lap of the first 15-minute session, set just moments before the chequered flag was flown, was deemed to infringe track limits and was disallowed.

Across in 992, and just two-tenths adrift of category polesitter Red Ant Racing, the Red Camel-Jordans.nl Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (#909, Ivo Breukers / Rik Breukers / Luc Breukers / Fabian Danz) lines up 2nd in-class ahead of Centri Porsche Ticino (#912, Valerio Presezzi / Max Busnelli / Ivan Jacoma / Francesco Fenici), the highest-placed of the 992-AM runners. Further back in 18th and 20th on the overall grid, RPM Racing (#907, Tracy Krohn / Niclas Jönsson / Philip Hamprecht) and Ebimotors (#973, Paolo Venerosi / Paolo Gnemmi / Gianluigi Piccioli / Gianluca Giorgi) were the 2nd and 3rd fastest 992-AM entries.

Disappointed not to be further up the grid, the Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (#955, Fabrizio Broggi / Sergiu Nicolae / Sabino de Castro) will start 4tt after losing time in the gravel trap during Q2.