Three A6-Am runners head the field at the first-ever Hankook 12H NAVARRA, as the Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS (#34, Gustav Edelhoff / Elmar Grimm / Max Edelhoff) leads the PROsport Performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#85, Charles Putman / Charles Espenlaub / Joe Foster) and the Swiss Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#15, Roberto Pampanini / Christoph Lenz / Mauro Calamia) after a dramatic opening three hours in northern Spain.
60 of the 100 laps completed so far around the 3.933km Circuito de Navarra had been led by the pole-sitting Hofor-Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#1, Michael Kroll / Chantal Kroll / Roland Eggimann / Kenneth Heyer / Christiaan Frankenhout) after a succession of storming laps by Christiaan Frankenhout. However, having opted against pitting during a late caution period, the reigning A6 and GT champions have now lost track position and dropped to 5th in the A6-Am class.
After a succession of pitlane shuffles, this left the Car Collection Motorsport Audi in the overall lead, even despite a quick spin on the final lap.
“After the finishing line, it’s not allowed to do a donut, so I thought I’d do one at the final corner,” joked Elmar Grimm, who drove the #34 Audi R8 LMS across the line. “The car is very, very good, from the first round to the last round, so thank you to Car Collection motorsport. I think at the moment the tyres are not very good, and we still need to do maybe 30 laps tomorrow, but I still think we will sleep well tonight after finishing first!”
Behind the top three, the Forch Racing Porsche 991 GT3 R (#29, Zeljko Drmic / Patrick Eisemann / Robert Lukas) currently leads the A6-Pro class. Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha and the IDEC SPORT RACING Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#17, Patrice Lafargue / Paul Lafargue / Dimitri Enjalbert) meanwhile complete the A6-Pro top three, but with both cars pitting just before the third hour, both cars find themselves in 7th and 8th overall on the road.
The battle for 991 class honours is really starting to heat up as the EBIMOTORS Porsche 991-I Cup (#73, Lino Curti / Carlo Curti / Marco Frezza) manages to squeeze ahead of Porsche Lorient Racing (#65, Jean-François Demorge / Alain Demorge / Gilles Blasco / Frédéric Ancel) with just a couple of laps to go. The second Porsche Lorient Racing entry meanwhile (#64, Philippe Polette / Frederic Lelievre / Pascal Gibon) currently lies 3rd.
After a very long opening stint, during which the team ran as high as 2nd overall, the True-Racing KTM X-BOW (#116, Johannes Stuck / Ferdinand Stuck / Reinhard Kofler / Klaus Angerhofer) now leads the SPX class ahead of its sister entry (#117, TAKIS / Hubert Trunkenpolz / Gerald Kiska / Klaus Angerhofer / Reinhard Kofler) and the VDS Racing Adventures MARC Focus V8 (#58, Raphaël van der Straten / José Close).
Further back, the Endurance Team Romania Ginetta G55 GT4 (#446, Fabrizio Broggi / Sergiu Nicolae) leads the GT4 class on its series return ahead of the QSR Racingschool Mercedes-AMG GT4 (#254, Mario Timmers / Bert Redant / Michiel Verhaeren), which lost time on-track after mild contact with the second Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS (#33, Ali Çapan / Dirg Parhofer / Isaac Tutumlu Lopez / Peter Schmidt).
The Herberth Motorsport Porsche 991 GT3 R (#911, Daniel Allemann / Ralf Bohn / Robert Renauer) was an early contender for victory, but the reigning Champions of the Continents made contact with the Scuderia Praha Ferrari whilst battling for 3rd, losing 25 minutes in the pits and dropping 16 laps down as a result. The Vortex V8 Vortex 1.0 (#204, Lionel Amrouche / Philippe Gruau / Philippe Valenza) also suffered woes at Navarra after a heavy shunt into the barriers, which brought out the only Code 60 caution period of the first three hours.
Following a brief hiatus overnight, the 2018 Hankook 12H NAVARRA will continue on Sunday at 11.30 hrs. local time, running throughout the afternoon and early evening until the chequered flag is flown at 20.30 hrs.
Source. Creventic/Photo. Petr Frýba