Can Herberth Motorsport do it? Can the 2017 Overall GT Teams’ ‘Continents’ champion, having finished as the runner-up three times already in 2023, finally put a rancid 2022 season to bed and take its first outright series win since the Hankook 12H HUNGARY in 2021?
To do so at the Hankook 12H MONZA would be particularly fitting, given that Herberth Motorsport finished a decisive 1-2-3 overall at the inaugural event in 2020, becoming the first – and so far only – GT team to lockout the overall podium at a 24H SERIES event. Not that this was the only talking point from that weekend, of course...
After a four-year hiatus, Mike Verschuur made a notable return to international motorsport by claiming outright pole position for his eponymous team on his final flying lap during qualifying. Momentum that the Dutchman took into the event itself, albeit only briefly as engine failure eliminated the Equipe Verschuur Renault R.S.01 GT3 after just 16 laps.
Series debutant MP Racing momentarily took the mantle up after the Renault’s demise, the Italian team having opted against pitting when the first Code 60 was thrown, though the fight for GT3 honours thereafter was monopolized by Herberth Motorsport’s trio of Porsche 991 GT3 Rs and, bizarrely, the KTM X-BOW of GTX leader Reiter Engineering (more on that on page 28). Indeed, though Herberth’s front row-starting #93 GT3 R, driven by Porsche factory driver Klaus Bachler, led for much of the second hour, a left-rear puncture passed the battle for the lead onto the sister #91 Porsche and Reiter Engineering, the latter making full use of frugal KTM to run longer stints and keep itself at the sharp-end.
Herberth’s decision to start ‘part two’ of the 2020 Hankook 12H MONZA with full tanks and fresh rubber briefly dropped the #91 behind both Reiter Engineering and the sister #93 Porsche heading into the overnight intervention, but the decision proved sound, the #91 leading for most of the Saturday’s opening five hours and 80 of that day’s 169 completed laps. With the #93 struck by second puncture, the baton was taken up by Herberth’s third entry – the #92 GT3 R, which had also won the previous round at Portimão – until Ralf Bohn caught, and passed, Jürgen Häring for the lead with just 25 minutes left to run. A win for the #91 seemed inevitable.
Amazingly, with just 10 minutes left on the clock, the lead was handed back to Häring (#92) when a gearbox problem ground Bohn (#91) to a halt at Curva Grande. That then left the #92 fending off the sister #93 in the closing stages, Klaus Bachler, at one stage, taking 10 seconds per lap out of Häring’s lead on the run to the flag. In a grandstand finish, the pair were eventually split by just 28 seconds in one of the closest 24H SERIES finishes to-date.
With Herberth’s #91 Porsche safe in 3rd (4th-placed MP Racing was still eight laps adrift at the chequered flag), the result, bizarrely, meant that Alfred Renauer, who’d driven stints in both the #91 and #92 Porsches, technically finished 1st and 3rd at the Hankook 12H MONZA, an accomplishment that’s yet to be replicated.
In GTX, having overcome very early electrical problems and a puncture, and even after losing its laps in qualifying to a balance of performance irregularity, ARC Bratislava benefitted from Reiter Engineering’s electrical gremlins to take the class win ahead of JR Motorsport’s BMW ‘F80’ M3. In an impressive recovery drive, the #707 Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo finished just two laps behind 5th-placed Car Collection Motorsport – the #34 Audi R8 having served a 10-lap penalty overnight to remedy brake and battery issues – and just ahead of 991-class winner, Speed Lover.
The fight for TCR victory meanwhile proved just as hard-fought as GT3. Despite losing four laps to suspension damage on the Friday, Red Camel-Jordans.nl blitzed its run on Saturday to take the class win ahead of reigning Overall TCE Teams’ champion Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing. Heading into the closing 45 minutes though, it was a victory that looked set to go to the division’s polesitter – a joint-effort between ‘Brutal Fish’ and ‘KCMG’ – before the Honda Civic Type-R pulled up at the second Lesmo. Amazingly, Pepe Oriola spent just one minute in the pits having remedied the problem while the Honda was being recovered. The final TCR podium spot was salvaged ahead of ‘part one’ TCE leader NKPP by Bas Koeten Racing, but it was a bittersweet result.
Further back in TCX, and despite losing 30 minutes early on Saturday, Autorama Motorsport’s standalone SEAT Leon Cup Racer took the class win in TCX ahead of Britain’s WEC Motorsport. Early category leader Nordschleife Racing had taken class pole by a sizeable 7.4 seconds and led the opening two hours, but electrical and gear-selector issues eventually relegated the Ligier JS2 R to 3rd.
Were the on-track action not intense enough, a severe rain storm during the eighth hour reduced visibility and grip to such an extent that the 2020 Hankook 12H MONZA was briefly red-flagged.
Words – James Gent
Images – Petr Frýba
1. Herberth Motorsport (#92, Porsche) – 285 laps
2. Herberth Motorsport (#93, Porsche) - +28.741s
3. Herberth Motorsport (#91, Porsche) – 280 laps
4. MP Racing (#58, Mercedes-AMG) – 272 laps
5. Car Collection Motorsport (#34, Audi) – 270 laps
GTX – ARC Bratislava (#707, Lamborghini) – 268 laps
991 – Speed Lover (#978, Porsche) – 265 laps
GT4 – MDM Motorsport (#450, BMW) – 254 laps
TCR – Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101, CUPRA) – 261 laps
TCX – Autorama Motorsport (#211, SEAT) – 237 laps