24H Series back on track
The fourth editionof Hankook 24H Portimão is now less than two weeks away, and is set to be one of the first international motorsport events to be organised in Europe since the outbreak of Covid-19.
Having worked at great length with both the management team at the Autódromo do Algarve and Portuguese health authorities, Creventic is relishing the opportunity to be one of, if not the, first organising bodies to arrange a motorsport event in Europe as lockdown restrictions start to ease.
The number of Covid-19 cases in Portugal has been in sharp decline for many weeks, but safety protocols will remain in play across the 12-13-14 June weekend to ensure that close on-track action is orchestrated in as safe a manner as possible. After its unprecedented five month break, Creventic is relishing the opportunity to bring close, real world racing back to its fans and supporters at one of Europe’s most characterful motorsport venues.
“Obviously this has been a very difficult period for so many people all over the world, and I cannot emphasise enough how proud I am that we have been given this opportunity to bring a semblance of normality back in our own way“, Creventic sporting coordinator Ole Dörlemann explained. “Thanks to the enormous efforts by the management team at the Autódromo do Algarve and local authorities, we are very confident we have created a safe environment for our competitors to return to the track. This has not been easy. We were adamant that no shortcuts would be taken either during the build-up to the race or during the event itself. As such, there are a number of systems in place to ensure our competitors and track-side personnel can work safely and comfortably. We hope, given a bit of time, the relaxed atmosphere Creventic prides itself on at the track will be restored once the green flag drops on 13 June”.
To offset the prolonged hiatus, competitors will be provided with a free test session around the 4.684km Autódromo do Algarve on Wednesday 10 June. After the race’s conclusion on Sunday, another test day will be held for teams on Monday 15 June in an effort to really brush away the off-season rust. Optional Private Test Sessions will be available on Thursday 11th. Track action continues on Friday 12th with Free Practice from 13.00 hrs to 15.00 hrs CEST ahead of two 45-minute qualifying sessions that start at 17.15 hrs (TCE) and 18.15 hrs (GT) respectively. Start grid procedures begin from 11.00 hrs on Saturday 13th ahead of the race start at 12.00 hrs CEST. The Hankook 24H Portimão will then run uninterrupted throughout the night until the chequered flag is dropped on Sunday 14th June at 12.00 hrs CEST.
Close to 20 GT and TCE entrants have already been confirmed for the event. With no less than 7 cars in the TCR class, competition will undoubtedly be strong. Among the lead TCR entries so far is Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing, which took the Overall TCE Teams’ championship in both the 24H Series Europe and 24H Series Continents last season. The Swiss outfit has confirmed two Volkswagen Golf GTi TCRs will compete in Portugal, and that reigning Overall TCE Drivers’ champion Yannick Mettler will be on driver detail with former TCR class champions Antti Buri and Kari-Pekka Laaksonen.
Herberth Motorsport claimed the first Overall GT Teams’ championship in the 24H Series Continents in 2017, and last year added the European ‘A6-Am’ class title to its collection as well. A perpetual frontrunner in the GT division, the Bavarian team has confirmed two Porsche 991 GT3 Rs for Portugal, the lead entry of which will be driven by team principals/brothers Alfred and Robert Renauer, Daniel Allemann and Ralf Bohn.
Established World Touring Car Cup outfit Comtoyou Team Audi Sport will make its 24H Series bow in Portimão, having entered an Audi RS3 LMS for Nicolas Baert, Gilles Magnus, and World Touring Car Championship icon, Tom Coronel.
A popular favourite team, HTP Winward Motorsport will compete in the GT3 category. Father-son American duo Bryce and Russell Ward will team with Indy Dontje and Philip Ellis in a Mercedes-AMG GT3. Likewise, AC Motorsport, which finally broke its 24H Series duck in Dubai with an overall TCE win, will be looking to bag its second win in succession with its tenured Audi RS3 LMS.
A former class winner at the Hankook 24H Portimão, Parkalgar Racing Team will compete with a Mercedes-AMG GT4 and will go head-to-head for category honours against fellow Portuguese runner, Savora Racing Team. Compatriot Veloso Motorsport meanwhile will do battle in the 991 class.