The SPS automotive performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#24, Alexandre Coigny / Iradj Alexander / Richard Feller / Antonin Borga) has taken pole position for the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO. Antonin Borga lapped the 4.692 km Autodromo do Algarve in 1m 43.912s to claim the team’s first pole position of the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook season.
“My thanks to the team and my teammates,” explained Antonin Borga to radiolemans.com’s Joe Bradley. “It’s a fantastic car, and I’m very happy because this is only my second race in the 24H SERIES after Dubai!”
The SPS automotive performance Mercedes also leads the Championship of the Continents GT standings. This year’s Hankook 24H PORTIMAO is the only race of the season in which points count towards both the European Championship and the Championship of the Continents for both the GT and TCE divisions.
Last year’s pole sitter – the Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha Ferrari 488 GT3 (#11, Jiří Písařík / Josef Kral / Matteo Malucelli) – was the fastest qualifier in A6-Pro, the Navarra race winner securing its place on the front row just ahead of the Hofor-Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#1, Michael Kroll / Chantal Prinz / Roland Eggimann / Kenneth Heyer / Christiaan Frankenhout).
The PROsport Performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#85, Charles Putman / Charles Espenlaub / Joe Foster / Adam Christodoulou) was the second fastest car in A6-Am and will start 4th overall, just ahead of the returning GP Extreme Renault R.S.01 GT3 (#27, Frederic Fatien / Jean-Pierre Valentini / Nicky Pastorelli / Jordan Grogor / Bassam Kronfli), the Emirati team also completing the A6-Am top three. Further back after a tough session, the Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS (#32, Christopher Haase / Pierre Kaffer / Jeffrey Schmidt / Peter Schmidt) is the final entrant in A6-Pro and will start 8th overall.
The Manthey Racing Porsche 991 GT3 R (#912, Ralf Bohn / Alfred Renauer Robert Renauer / Mathieu Jaminet) meanwhile topped the SPX category, the Renauer twins swapping their A6 Herberth Motorsport entry for one round only in Portugal. Further back, the Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (#10, Razvan Umbrarescu / Gabriele Piana / John-Louis Jasper / Pavel Lefterov) pipped the Speed Lover Porsche 991-I Cup (#78, Dominique Bastien / Pierre-Yves Paque / Wim Meulders) as the second fastest SPX entry.
The Forch Racing Porsche 991 GT3 Cup (#189, Patrick Eisemann / Stefan Oschmann / Christopher Bauer / Robert Lukas) made an impressive impact on its 991-class debut, narrowly beating Imola class winner EBIMOTORS (#73, Lino Curti / Carlo Curti / Marco Frezza / Federico Curti) and IDEC SPORT RACING (#75, David Abramczyk / Stephane Adler / Romain Vozniak / Florent Jimenez / Lionel Amrouche) to claim the category pole position.
GT4 meanwhile saw a straight fight between the Fox Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT4 (#47, Glenn Sherwood / Jamie Stanley / Ben Clucas / Andrew Perry) and the Perfection Racing Europe Ginetta G55 GT4 (#239, Claus Klostermann / Michael Klostermann / René Rasmussen / Tommy Laugesen), the British team besting its Danish rivals in only its second 24H SERIES start of the season. The QSR Racingschool Mercedes-AMG GT4 (#254, Mario Timmers / Bert Redant / Michiel Verhaeren / Jimmy de Breucker) meanwhile completes the top three in GT4.
Kawasaki Racing by Bas Koeten Racing heads the TCE field
The Kawasaki Racing by Bas Koeten Racing CUPRA TCR (#155, Kristian Jepsen / Jan Sorensen / Kari-Pekka Laaksonen / Antti Buri) took its first TCE pole position of the season, as former British Formula Ford champion Antti Buri clocked a fastest lap of 1m 55.504s. Impressively, this year’s TCR pole position time is three seconds faster than that achieved by Team Altran Peugeot at last year’s Hankook 24H PORTIMAO.
“We didn’t really do any quali [sic] simulations,” explained TCE polesitter Antti Buri. “There’s still pace left in the car, but we’re concentrating on the race. I was still pushing though!”
The Finnish team, which took outright TCE victory last time out at Imola, locked out the front row with fellow Bas Koeten Racing affiliate NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing CUPRA TCR (#175, Gijs Bessem / Harry Hilders / Bob Herber / Willem Meijer), the latter lapping the Autodromo do Algarve just under a second slower than the ‘sister’ entry.
The LAMERA-CUP powered by CTF Performance Lamera Cup (#238, Nicolas Beraud / Fabien Delaplace / Laurent Piguet / Gilles Poret) was the fastest SP3 runner, and completed the overall TCE top three in qualifying just ahead of the Red Camel-Jordans.nl SEAT Leon TCR (#303, JM Littman / Henry Littig / Klaus Kresnik / Nuno Corvo).
The CWS Engineering Ginetta G55 (#178, Colin White / Joachim Bölting / Steven Wells / Adam Hayes) and the Cor Euser Racing BMW M3 (#71, Cor Euser / Einar Thorsen / Jim Briody) completed the SP3 top three in the 30-minute qualifying session, and will start 5th and 8th on the TCE grid.
Further back, the Hofor Racing powered bei Bonk Motorsport BMW M235i Racing Cup (#131, Martin Kroll / Michael Schrey / Michael Fischer / Bernd Küpper / Gustav Engljaehringer) has taken CUP1 pole position. The overall TCE European Championship standings comes into this weekend having won the previous three rounds in Dubai, Silverstone and Navarra. The dual Sorg Rennsport BMW M235i Racing Cups complete the CUP1 order in qualifying, the #152 entry (Keijo Kaasik / Jesko Herrmann / Dirk Bierbaum / José Pires / Paulo Macedo) lapping just one-tenth quicker than the sister #151 entry (Chris Wadle / Chris Lewis / David Richardson / Alexander W. Wetzlich / Seth Thomas).
Today’s programme continues with night practice at 20.30 hrs local time before the green flag flies for the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO itself at 15.00 hrs local time on Saturday. The race will see two separate rolling starts for the GT and TCE divisions for only the second time in 24H SERIES history, and will continue throughout the night until the chequered flag is flown at 15.00 hrs local time on Sunday.