Herberth Motorsport has secured the first outright pole position in the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook for the 992-generation Porsche 911 GT3 R ahead of this weekend’s Hankook 12H MONZA, doing so by a wafer-thin 0.047s from Haas RT.
The HAAS RT Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II (#21, Max Hofer / Mathieu Detry / Miika Panu), winner of the Hankook 12H MUGELLO in March, went into the final 15-minute qualifying session at Monza just one-tenth clear of the Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R (#91, Daniel Allemann / Ralf Bohn / Alfred Renauer / Robert Renauer), but a succession of fastest laps from Robert Renauer early in Q3 meant the #91 Porsche had moved to within 0.011s of pole position heading into the closing moments. Incredibly, Renauer went on to post the fastest lap of any qualifying session – a 1m 49.233s – to overhaul the Haas RT and claim outright pole position on his final flying lap.
So close was qualifying for the 2023 Hankook 12H MONZA, Haas RT’s 1m 49.943s average time across all three sessions was just 0.047s slower than Herberth Motorsport’s 1m 49.895s, the narrowest GT pole-winning margin in the 24H SERIES since 0.024s split the front row at last year’s Hankook 24H PORTIMAO.
“I know it was really close between us and the [Haas RT] Audi, so I really had to push towards the end, and luckily I got a really, really good lap in. But I wasn’t expecting pole position!” Robert Renauer explained to radiolemans.com’s Peter MacKay. “We might be missing a bit of acceleration but the top speed is great, so I’m very happy now!”
The CP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#85, Charles Putman / Charles Espenlaub / Joe Foster / Shane Lewis) completed its best qualifying performance of the season to claim 3rd on the grid. The reigning GT Continents Trophy winner will share the second row with the BMW M4 GT3 of series debutant BMW Italia Ceccato Racing (#15, Leonardo Sanchez Secundino / Atila Abreu / William Thomas Freire), meaning four different constructors – Audi, Porsche, Mercedes-AMG and BMW – will line up in the top four on tomorrow’s grid.
The Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II (#34, Dr. Johannes Kirchhoff / Elmar Grimm / Max Edelhoff), CP Racing’s nearest rival in the GT3-AM Teams’ standings, rounds out the overall top five in qualifying.
After a difficult opening session, a monumental run from reigning GT3 Drivers’ ‘Europe’ champion Pierre Kaffer, who posted the fastest overall lap of Q2, helped secure the Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II of reigning GT European Trophy winner Scherer Sport PHX (#1, Michael Doppelmayr / Pierre Kaffer / Elia Erhart) 6th on the overall grid. After ending a red-flag affected Q1 as the surprise provisional polesitter, the GT3-AM-entered E2P Racing Porsche 991 GT3 R (#90, Javier Morcillo / Pablo Burguera / Antonio Sainero) eventually slipped back behind the frontrunning PRO drivers, but will nevertheless start from a hard-earned 7th.
Ferrari’s new 296 GT3 makes its 24H SERIES debut at this weekend’s Hankook 12H MONZA, and rounds out the GT3 runners in 8th with Kessel Racing (#8, Alessandro Cutrera / Marco Talarico / Marco Frezza / David Fumanelli / L.M.D.V.)
In 992, the TORO Racing by HRT Performance Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (#930, Adam Christodoulou / Eric Zang / Xinzhe Xie / Luo Kai Luo) carried its Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS class-winning momentum into Monza by securing category pole position just under two-tenths clear of nearest rival, Neuhofer Rennsport (#985, Felix Neuhofer / Markus Neuhofer / Martin Ragginger / Paul Kasper). Though a contender throughout the afternoon, and the 992 provisional polesitter at the end of Q1, reigning 992 Teams’ ‘Europe’ champion Red Ant Racing (#903, Ayrton Redant / Arnold Neveling / Kai Rillaerts) eventually slipped back to 3rd in-class – albeit just one-tenth adrift – and will start 11th overall.
Qualifying for 992 Teams’ standings leader Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors (#955, Fabrizio Broggi / Sergiu Nicolae / Sabino de Castro) ended abruptly when Fabrizio Broggi hit the wall hard at Ascari in Q1. Fortunately the Italian suffered no major injuries, and after front end repairs, the #955 Porsche is expected to take tomorrow’s race start.
Qualifying was briefly paused during Q3 when Rubens Barrichello, who makes his 24H SERIES debut and his long-awaited return to Monza this weekend, hit the tyre barriers on the entry to Ascari. The 11-time Formula 1 Grand Prix winner happily emerged unscathed, and the Q1 Trackracing Porsche 992 GT3 Cup will line up 7th in the 992 class behind 992-AM polesitter EST1 Racing (#981, Alex Reimann / Jori Ala-Jyrä) and RPM Racing (#907, Tracy Krohn / Niclas Jönsson / Philip Hamprecht).
GTX Teams’ standings leader RD Signs – Siauliai racing team (#720, Audrius Butkevicius / Nicola Michelon / Paulius Paskevicius) secured class pole position at Monza ahead of nearest championship rival Vortex V8 (#701, Lionel Amrouche / Philippe Bonnel / Gilles Courtois) after a commanding performance by the Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo. Mechanical gremlins however meant 9und11 Racing (#719, Georg Goder / Ralf Oehme / Martin Schlüter / Leonard Oehme) was unable to participate at all in qualifying, though the German team is confident its Porsche 911 GT3 Cup MR will be on tomorrow’s grid following overnight repairs.
In a bid to improve competition for GT4 and TCR entrants at the Hankook 12H MONZA, both classes will run in the new, exploratory ‘GTTC’ division this weekend. With the balance of performance regulations accordingly adjusted for the TCR class, it was a move that produced a sensational qualifying session.
Unexpectedly, the Holmgaard Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR (#102, Magnus Holmgaard / Jonas Holmgaard / Roy Edland / Martin Vedel Mortensen) posted the fastest lap of any GTTC runner in Q1. The Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS class winner held on to that advantage across all three sessions, and posted the fastest average laptime – a 1m 59.672s – to secure overall GTTC pole position, albeit only just.
An impressive Q2 run by Roelof Bruins, during which the Dutchman set almost identical laptimes – a 1m 59.109s and a 1m 59.108s – one lap after the other, moved the Atlas BX Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4 (#403, Steven Cho / Roelof Bruins / Jongkyum Kim / Taekeun Yang / Donggi Noh) briefly ahead of the Buggyra Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 (#416, Aliyyah Koloc / David Vršecký / Adam Lacko) on to the front row of the GTTC grid. A personal best by Aliyyah Koloc on her last flying lap in Q2 ended up pushing the #403 Mercedes back off provisional GT4 pole heading into Q3, but a new GT4 fastest lap – a 1m 59.090s – by Jongkyum Kim during the final session moved the AtlasBX Motorsport Mercedes back ahead of its championship rival for GT4-class pole position. The South Korean team only missed overall GTTC pole position by a microscopic 0.049s!
“Oh it feels great!” Holmgaard Motorsport’s Martin Vedel Mortensen explained to radiolemans.com’s Peter MacKay. “We know this weekend we’re racing with the GT4s, but it’s nice to see that we are able to beat them, so things look promising for the race.”
When asked how teams prepared for qualifying using just one set of tyres, Mortensen continued: “As the last driver out there, the tyres were not in the best condition, so every time I had one quick lap, I had to do a cool down not to overheat them. I was also told I had just one lap to try and get pole! Fortunately it was good enough.”
The BMW M4 of reigning GT4 Teams’ champion Team ACP – Tangerine Associates (#421, Steve Weber / Ken Goldberg / Catesby Jones) made a steady return to the 24H SERIES – on its first trip to the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, no less – with the 3rd fastest average run of the GT4 runners. Italy’s Autorlando Sport meanwhile (#475, Yidong Zhang / Kwan Kit Lo / Shang Chang / Qi Mi) was unable to complete a lap in qualifying owing to engine issues for the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport, and will thus start tomorrow’s race from the very back of the grid.
‘Part one’ of the 2023 Hankook 12H MONZA will start tomorrow – Saturday 10 June – at 12.00 hrs local time, with the first 6.5 hours set to conclude at 18.30 hrs. After CREVENTIC’s traditional overnight intervention, the final 5.5 hours of the event will run from 10.30 hrs on the morning of Sunday 11 June until the chequered flag is flown at 16.00 hrs. The action will be live with commentary from radiolemans.com on the official 24H SERIES YouTube channel. Regular updates will also be published on Twitter (@24HSeries), Facebook (24H Series) and Instagram (24H Series). Further information can be found at www.24hseries.com.