eTeam WRT has secured a sensational 1-2 finish at the inaugural ESPORTS 12H MONZA after a commanding run with its dual-entered Audi R8 LSM GT3 Evos. Mirko Bortolotti drove the winning #1 Audi (Mirko Bortolotti / Kenton Koch / Marcin Skrzypczak) across the line to collect the chequered flag after completing 385 laps of the 5.793km Autodromo Nazionale di Monza. The sister #2 Audi meanwhile (Kenneth Gulbrandsen / Fabrice Cornelis / Piotr Jagodzinski) finished just 80 seconds behind to complete a perfect weekend for the former Hankook 24H DUBAI winner.
“This was a great experience, and I’m really proud of the boys for bringing home a 1-2,” Mirko Bortolotti explained to radiolemans.com’s John Hindhaugh. “Normally in a race, you pray that your engine or your gearbox will last, and suddenly today I was praying that my internet provider would hold on! But I’m very happy. Great race, great experience, and I want to thank Kenton and Marcin too. This race couldn’t have been better.”
As the event’s outright winner, eTeam WRT have also won a set of tyres from long-time CREVENTIC partner Hankook Tires, which can be used at any upcoming, real-world, 24H SERIES race event.
At two-third distance, and having also led intermittently during the opening stages, the Optimum by SIMMSA Esports Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#66, Christopher Zoechling / Lewis Goodway / Nick Foster / Ramez Azzam / Peter Klawitter) had looked set to finish 2nd overall. Contact with Energy Driven Motorsports’ TCR entry however just two hours from home would ultimately drop the British team back to a still well-deserved 3rd place overall.
Like Optimum, Red Camel Esports (#98, Rik Breukers / Luc Breukers / Jorn Zoetekouw) had also been in contention for the overall win, having led the ESPORTS 12H MONZA comfortably from the third hour onwards. Shortly before half distance though, Luc Breukers made heavy contact with the barriers after tangling with the Atlanta Speedwerks Ferrari 488 GT3 on the approach to Variante Ascari, brutally, on Luc Breukers’ in-lap. An uncharacteristic mistake by brother Rik, at almost the same spot and inside the final 10 minutes, meant the Dutch team dropped from 4th to 6th almost in sight of the flag.
Red Camel was far from the only GT3 team to be turfed out of contention for victory though. Having started from pole position and led most of the opening hour, the ATLASBX MOTORSPORTS Ferrari 488 GT3 (#11, Steven Cho / Jaesung Park / Sekun Park / Gyumin Kim / Jongkyum Kim) dropped to 3rd after a slow first stop before being shunted out of the top 10 altogether by Fach Auto Tech Simracing heading into the first chicane.
The E-Sport Team Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#4, Yelmer Buurman / Dirk Müller / Colin Caresani / Tijmen van der Helm / Phillip Ellis) and the Sorg Rennsport eSports GT3 Ferrari 488 GT3 (#48, Maximilian Peckel / Niklas Schneider) enjoyed a terrific battle in the closing stages for 5th, one that, sadly, featured not one but two collisions. Both escaped contact at the first chicane with only minor damage, but the pair tangled again a few laps later at the very fast Curva Biassano, sending both to the pits for extensive repairs.
The Leipert eSports Real Yellow Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#10, Marc de Fulgencio / Louis Prette / Dan Wells) and the Fun-M Motorsport with SIMMSA Esports BMW Z4 GT3 (#69, Simon Klemund / Fabian A Hackl / Tim Brzeske / Julian Reinhart / Luca Trunk) were the eventual beneficiaries of both Red Camel’s, Black Falcon’s, and Sorg Rennsport’s struggles, collecting 4th and 5th respectively in the process.
A strong recovery drive for the Team ABBA Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#8, Tom Onslow-Cole / Sam Neary / Adam Christodoulou), following a Reiter Engineering ‘inspired’ brush against the wall, ended with a hard-earned 7th at the flag. Ironically, the Reiter Engineering Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#78, Florian Apazeller / Louis Nahser / Jan Reif) would also survive the clash to finish just behind the former Hankook 24H SILVERSTONE race winner in 8th.
In the 991 class, MRS SIM RACING – the iRacing alter-ego of former 24H SERIES class winner MRS GT-Racing – secured a commanding 1-2 finish, as Jukka Honkavuori, Gosia Rdest and Niclas Laubisch in the #989 911-II Cup led home Glenn van Parijs, Ruben Van Buel, Gregory Vranckx and Mathias Detige in the sister #980 Porsche, the latter suffering a scare 10 minutes from home with an off at Variante Ascari. So strong was the German team’s run in fact, both Porsche Cup cars finished inside the overall top 10.
“This was my first ever SIM racing experience,” explained Gosia Rdest, “and [Jukka and Niclas] did an amazing job. I was struggling a little at the beginning because my steering wheel stopped working, and the Porsche is a tricky car to drive anyway! But it was a great challenge and I really enjoyed this opportunity. I’m already looking forward to the next race!”
A strong recovery drive meanwhile saw NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (#991, Loek Hartog / Boudewijn Kuster) secure the final class podium. The 24H SERIES stalwart had jumped into the lead when the green flag was flown, but lost time in the pits quickly thereafter.
GT4 & TCR
Come the chequered flag, DUWO by SimRC was also celebrating a sensational ESPORTS 12H MONZA, from which the Luxembourg team secured both the GT4 and TCR class victories. The team’s Porsche Cayman GT4 CS (#476, Marcel Fassbender / Tom Vallenthini / Charlie Collins / Mathias Schoger) had pulled three laps clear of its nearest rival when the chequered flag was unfurled, while the sister Audi RS3 LMS (#176, Jürgen Frank / Felix Luding / Diogo C. Pinto), despite a late-race clash with Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power, also enjoyed a three-lap gap back to the rest of the TCR field.
“It was far from easy!” explained DUWO’s Jürgen Frank. “You had to survive today. Even the start with all classes starting at the same time, it was very difficult. So I have to thank the DUWO Racing team who made it possible for us to race here and for doing such a great job this weekend.”
“Traffic was difficult today,” Jürgen’s teammate Tom Vallenthini said of the team’s TCR result. “But we managed that quite well, and in the end, it was a great success. We had some damage after contact with a GT3 car, but the car was still very stable at the end.”
Amazingly, like its fellow 24H SERIES staple, Leipert Motorsport also celebrated a double podium finish at the ESPORTS 12H MONZA. The team’s Leipert eSports Black Porsche Cayman GT4 CS (#410, Marc Röttgen / Marian Hensel / Steffen Meincke / Ronny Kunack-Constabel) finished 3rd in GT4, while the sister Leipert eSports Yellow Audi RS3 LMS (#111, Sandro Petrozziell / Tobias Pechstädt / Christopher Maier / Niclas Heide) took 2nd in TCR.
Heli-ABK (#464, Maxim Van Den Hove / Anthony Beeckman / Renzo Uylenbroeck) finished 2nd in GT4 to complete the category’s podium, while Sorg Rennsport eSports TCR (#133, Moritz Peckel / Marc Danisch) rounded out the top three in TCR.
Following a successful ESPORTS 12H MONZA in association with NEO Endurance, CREVENTIC is now focusing its efforts on the fourth annual Hankook 24H PORTIMAO, set to take place at the Autódromo do Algarve in Portugal on 12-13-14 June 2020. Further details regarding entry lists and registration can be found at www.24hseries.com