NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (#175, Gijs Bessem / Harry Hilders / Ronny Jost / Fabian Danz) currently leads the 2018 Hankook 24H SILVERSTONE after a weather-affected opening few hours. The Dutch-based outfit had qualified 7th fastest of the TCR runners, but smooth running around the 5.891km Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit during tricky opening conditions, plus a mistake from erstwhile leaders Red Camel-Jordans.nl, saw the SEAT leap to the top of the timesheets on the CUPRA TCR’s event debut.
Fellow Bas Koeten-affiliated team and last year’s Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS winner LMS Racing powered by Bas Koeten Racing (#129, Antti Buri / Kari-Pekka Laaksonen / Olli Kangas) follows closely behind in 2nd place, just ahead of fellow SEAT runners and 2017 Hankook 24H SILVERSTONE winner Team Bleekemolen (#100, Sebastiaan Bleekemolen / Melvin de Groot / Rob Smith / Rene Steenmetz), which had qualified on pole position. Aptly, it would be the Team Bleekemolen machine that, briefly, led the field outright as the fourth hour ticked by (see attached results).
Given that the ‘CUPRA’ name is a brand new sub-brand of SEAT Sport, the Spanish manufacturer effectively locks out the TCR and overall podium of the 2018 European Championship season opener.
Having led outright for more than an hour, the Red Camel-Jordans.nl SEAT Leon TCR V3 DSG (#303, Ivo Breukers / Rik Breukers / Konstantins Calko) now lies 4th overall. The Dutch-outfit had held an almost 60-second advantage at the front, but would fall back down the order shortly before the 4th hour following a spin into the gravel that would bring out only the second Code 60 caution period of the day.
Having enjoyed an epic battle for 2nd overall during the opening hour, the Excelr8 Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS SEQ (#106, David Marcussen / Akhil Rabindra / Sandy Mitchell / Stuart Hall / James Kaye) currently holds 5th overall, just ahead of the two Volkswagen Golf GTi TCRs of Holmgaard Motorsport (#102, Magnus Holmgaard / Roy Edland / Jens Mølgaard / Jonas Holmgaard / René Rasmussen) and former race leader J W BIRD Motorsport (#221, Paul Dehadray / Kieran Griffin / William Paul / Rory Butcher). The latter drops to 7th in-class after the first sequence of pit stops after a stunning opening stint by Rory Butcher, which saw the SEAT Leon TCR pull almost a full minute ahead of its rivals in the treacherous conditions. The series debutants remain well in contention though with more than 21 hours of endurance racing left to run.
Currently lying 6th overall in the TCR standing, the Hofor Racing powered bei Bonk Motorsport BMW M235i Racing Cup (#131, Martin Kroll / Michael Schrey / Michael Fischer / Bernd Küpper / Gustav Engljaehringer) holds the lead in the A3 class having pulled a one-lap gap to reigning 24H SERIES CUP1 champions, and fellow BMW runners, DUWO Racing (#235, Philip Harris / Oliver Bryant / Grahame Bryant / Adam Dawson / William Plant). The PDM Motorsport BMW Z3 M Coupé (#999, Dimitri Kluyskens / Maxence Vandekerckhove / Pierre De Landsheere / Peter Puype) completed an all-BMW podium after four hours.
Reigning 24H TCE SERIES champions Synchro Motorsport meanwhile (#76, Alyn James / Daniel Wheeler / Matt Neal) continues the swansong of the outgoing FK2 Honda Civic Type-R, with three-time British Touring Car Champion Matt Neal at the wheel. The British squad was 5th in-class at the 4-hour mark, and had gambled on slick tyres during the opening wet stint only for a late shower to spoil their strategy.
The Hankook 24H SILVERSTONE will continue throughout the night in the UK, the chequered flag set to be flown at 10.30 GMT on Sunday morning. The GT and PROTO-only Hankook 12H SILVERSTONE meanwhile, which is running simultaneously on-track, will finish at 17.30 GMT this evening. Live timing and live streaming of the race in HD quality will be available on the series’ website. The streaming will also be uploaded on the series’ Youtube channel. Regular updates will be published on Twitter (@24HSeries), Facebook (24H Series) and Instagram (24H Series). Further information can be found at http://www.24hseries.com.
Source. Creventic/Photo. John Patterson