Scherer Sport PHX came out on top of a race-long battle with Herberth Motorsport to secure its first win of this year’s 24H SERIES powered by Hankook at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
The Scherer Sport PHX Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II (#1, Michael Doppelmayr / Pierre Kaffer / Elia Erhart) led the field away at Sunday’s restart, with the Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R (#91, Daniel Allemann / Ralf Bohn / Alfred Renauer / Robert Renauer), also on the lead lap, shadowing the reigning GT European Trophy winner ominously throughout the opening stages. A late pit stop for the Bavarian team the day prior meant the pair, on different strategies, swapped the lead repeatedly during the final 5.5 hours of the 2023 Hankook 12H MONZA, and in the end, Scherer Sport PHX sealed its first win since last year’s Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING by less than 25 seconds.
In the closing stages however, it was still unclear whether Scherer Sport PHX, who pitted under Code 60 in the closing 45 minutes, could make it to the finish without a final splash-and-dash…
“Amazing. Amazing!” a delighted Elia Erhart exclaimed to radiolemans.com’s Paul Smith. “We lost maybe 30 seconds before the end of the race during a Code 60, which was not so good for us. But in the last 15 minutes, there was another Code 60, so we could refuel the last 15 litres, and that was enough to get us to the end. Thanks a lot to everyone – the whole team – and to Michael [Doppelmayr] and Pierre [Kaffer]. It’s been amazing!”
A third runner-up spot from four CREVENTIC outings so far in 2023 propels Herberth Motorsport, winner of the inaugural Hankook 12H MONZA in 2020, to within four points of the top of the 24H SERIES GT3 Teams’ standings.
HAAS RT Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II (#21, Max Hofer / Mathieu Detry / Miika Panu) was on course to take the final podium position with 25 minutes left on the clock. However, contact with the BMW Italia Ceccato Racing BMW M4 GT3 (#15, Leonardo Sanchez Secundino / Atila Abreu / William Thomas Freire) out of Ascari dislodged bodywork at the Audi R8’s right rear corner as Miika Panu rounded the Parabolica. Uunable to get into the pitlane, the Finnish driver was forced to complete another full lap before making his way to the pitbox. Though the damage was quickly repaired, the Antiguan team struggled to re-fire the Audi R8, which ultimately ground to a halt at Variante della Roggia mere moments after its return to the track. The Antiguan team was eventually classified 10th.
BMW Italia Ceccato Racing survived to finish 4th, but was handed a 30-second time penalty for the incident with Haas RT, with whom the Italian team had been battling for 3rd overall throughout the event. Ironically, earlier in the race, the BMW M4 GT3 was also involved with a near-coming together with then-GTX leader 9und11 Racing at Variante della Roggia, though contact on that occasion was avoided.
The late-race drama meant GT3-AM class winner CP Racing (#85, Charles Putman / Charles Espenlaub / Joe Foster / Shane Lewis), which had been running 2nd overall on Saturday before the Mercedes-AMG GT3 suffered a puncture, picked up the final podium spot. This marks the American team’s first overall top three finish since its win at last year’s Hankook 12H KUWAIT.
E2P Racing Porsche 991 GT3 R (#90, Javier Morcillo / Pablo Burguera / Antonio Sainero) enjoyed its most successful 24H SERIES weekend yet with its Porsche 911 GT3 R, claiming the final spot on the GT3-AM podium and rounding out the overall top five. The result means the Spanish team, the reigning 991 Teams’ champion, has now moved to within two points of CP Racing in the GT3-AM Teams’ standings.
Despite racking up a number of time penalties for exceeding maximum refueling allocation, the Kessel Racing Ferrari 296 GT3 (#8, Alessandro Cutrera / Marco Talarico / Marco Frezza / David Fumanelli / L.M.D.V.) went the distance on its 24H SERIES debut to finish 7th behind Red Ant Racing (#903, Ayrton Redant / Arnold Neveling / Kai Rillaerts). The reigning 992 Teams’ ‘Europe’ champion took a commanding 992 class win – its first of the season, despite delays on Saturday – and now leads the 992 Teams’ standings.
Early pacesetter Neuhofer Rennsport (#985, Felix Neuhofer / Markus Neuhofer / Martin Ragginger / Paul Kasper) had been closing the gap to Red Ant Racing during Martin Ragginger’s stint, but a left-rear puncture halted the German team’s progress with just over two hours of the race remaining. 2nd in-class though meant the German team secured the first 992-class podium of its maiden 24H SERIES season.
Rabdan Motorsport by HRT Performance (#977, Saif Alameri / Christopher Zöchling / Anthony Leighs) secured its first 24H SERIES podium of the season after an impressively consistent run. The Emirati team finished ahead of RPM Racing (#907, Tracy Krohn / Niclas Jönsson / Philip Hamprecht), the latter of which bested nearest rival EST 1 Racing (#981, Alex Reimann / Jori Ala-Jyrä) to take 992-AM victory. This, despite the German team earning a 60-second time penalty for work being done on the #907 Porsche 992 GT3 Cup on the restart grid.
Splitting the 992-AM contenders on the road, 992 Teams’ championship contender, TORO Racing by HRT Performance (#930, Adam Christodoulou / Eric Zang / Xinzhe Xie / Luo Kai Luo) recovered from a puncture-afflicted Saturday to finish a hard-earned 5th in-class, though the Chinese entry did lose time after a brush with the tyre barriers at Ascari.
992 Teams’ championship contender Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors (#955, Fabrizio Broggi / Sergiu Nicolae / Sabino de Castro) endured a difficult afternoon in Monza as four separate punctures – the first caused by an enforced trip through the gravel on Sunday’s opening lap, the fourth just five minutes from home – ended up dropping the #955 Porsche 992 GT3 Cup to 6th in-class.
Race-long tyre issues, plus damage sustained at the Porsche’s left rear corner early on Saturday, sadly meant Formula 1 luminary Rubens Barrichello failed to finish his 24H SERIES debut with Q1 Trackracing (#950, Rubens Barrichello / Eduardo Menossi / Marcos Vinicius Neves).
RD Signs – Siauliai racing team (#720, Audrius Butkevicius / Nicola Michelon / Paulius Paskevicius) strengthened its lead in the GTX Teams’ standings with a remarkable recovery drive to victory at Monza. The Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo suffered an early puncture on Saturday and lost five laps to overnight repairs, but had already worked its way back on to the lead lap in-class after the opening three hours on Sunday. The Lithuanain team went on to retake the GTX lead on-track shortly after three-quarter distance, securing its first class win of the season in the process.
Alongside its brush with BMW Italia Ceccato Racing, long-time GTX class leader 9und11 Racing (#719, Georg Goder / Ralf Oehme / Martin Schlüter / Leonard Oehme) was delayed almost 30 minutes in the pitbox when the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup MR’s battery overheated, although the German team was still able to finish 2nd. The performance earned 9und11 Racing radiolemans.com’s highly-anticipated Spirit of the Race award.
Lingering after-effects from yesterday’s collision with Red Camel-Jordans.nl, including a leaking radiator, meant Vortex V8 (#701, Lionel Amrouche / Philippe Bonnel / Gilles Courtois) fell 71 laps behind the GTX leaders, but still added points to its GTX Teams’ title challenge with 3rd.