A fantastic weekend of racing at Silverstone drew to a close with Team Bleekemolen claiming victory in the Hankook 24HR Touring Car Endurance Series. The Dutch squad helmed by Sebastiaan Bleekemolen along with drivers Melvin De Groot, Rene Steenmetz and Rob Smith, completed the gruelling 24 hour race in 549 laps in their Seat Leon TCR.
Their race was relatively trouble free with the only minor setback being a broken shock absorber giving them a prolonged pitstop of 14 minutes on the Sunday morning. The team dropped out of the race 19 hours in last year due to an engine malfunction so were delighted to redeem themselves with such relative ease.
In second place was Italian team Pit Lane Competizioni in the Audi RS3 driven by Enrico Bettera, with co-drivers Alberto Vescovi, Roberto Ferri, Zach Arnold and John Fillipi the squad completed 544 laps by the time the chequered flag fell at 4pm.
The team made their way into second when then frontrunners Modena Motorsports had a series of problems with their Seat Leon including suspension and wheel issues, Red Camel-Jordans.nl suffered steering arm problems and later a loss of oil pressure causing them to drop out at almost 16 hours.
Modena Motorsports with drivers John Shen, Wayne Shen, Benny Simonsen and Francis Tjia managed to resolve their problems enough to cross the line in third place completing 534 laps. The team based in Zhuhai, China ran two Seat Leon’s in the 24 Hour race, their other car at almost 21 hours in and running in 4th place made contact with Endurance Autosports Lotus Exige and ended up barrel rolling onto its roof, both drivers were unharmed but this took the two cars out of the race. Endurance Autosport’s Lotus had suffered with multiple fuel issues and driveshaft problems needing it to be replaced twice.
Last year’s winners Team ABBA with Rollcentre Racing suffered a broken front crank seal in the evening, necessitating a complete engine change. Though aiming to get out by early afternoon the following day, the team eventually managed to get the BMW M3 back on track just a few minutes before the end of the race to huge applause from the rest of the pit lane. Another casualty was Newbridge Motorsport OCC Lasik Racing’s Porsche Cayman which crashed during free practice causing the team to withdraw from the race.
Last year’s Formula Ford 1600 Champion Niall Murray made his first move into endurance in the Ginetta G50 of TDF/GEVA, the team suffered more than a few problems across the weekend from a suspected misfiring engine leading to a complete engine replacement, to eventually a fuel leak causing the car to set fire while on track with the 22 year old at the wheel, bringing the teams race to an end.
Finishing first in the A3 class and 18th overall was Synchro Motorsport in their Honda Civic Type R.
The team consisting of volunteers from Honda’s factory in Swindon had an incredible race, dealing with a knock from Zest Racecar Engineering’s SEAT, an oil leak and most impressively a one and a half hour engine change. Drivers Daniel Wheeler and Martin Byrford are joined by team principal Alyn James who completed the final stint of the race, seeing in the last of 468 laps.
Second in the A3 class was Paul Plant, Simon Cresswell, JM Littman and Chris Yarwood of Vanquish Motorsport in the Seat Leon Supercopa. Despite a cv joint failure, a trip on the Silverstone tow truck on the Saturday, and taking a hit in the rear on the Sunday, the team were back out and able to complete the race in 435 laps.
Finishing third in class was the BMW M3 of Cor Euser Racing, although the car did not finish under the flag due to a broken differential, with 428 laps it was enough to take the podium place for the team driven by Le Mans and F3 stalwart Cor Euser, NASCAR Pinty Series driver Peter Klutt, James Briody, Maarten Mus and John Farano.
In the Cup 1 BMW M235i Racing Cup Class, first place went to Belgian team QSR, with Sorg Rennsport in second place. The German squad welcomed last year’s BTCC runner up SamTordoff to the team for the weekend, about to embark on his maiden season in British GT with Barwell Motorsport, the 24 HR event gave Tordoff the chance to complete an endurance race, something he was denied earlier this year in Dubai when a fire meant the HB Racing Lamborghini Huracan had to pull out after just 46 laps. Joining Sorg on the podium was RMA Trackdays-JJ Motorsport in third place.
Making the podium in the A2 class were Team Sally Racing in first place in the Renault Clio driven by Martin Sally Pedersen, Peter Obel, Mads Christensen and Stefan Jusjong. The Danish outfit have been racing since 2006, running two cars earlier this year in Dubai, finishing third and seventh.
Taking second place in the A2 class was Area MS/Owens Endurance in their Honda Civic with drivers Jack Fabby, Carl Swift, David Vincent and Mark Harris. This was a first step into endurance racing for 17 year old Fabby, last year’s Michelin Clio Cup Champion. The race ran faultlessly for the team with just a minor knock in the early hours of Sunday to slow them down. Eventually finishing the race in 493 laps.
In SP3 Moss Motorsport took the top of the podium in the BMW E46 and their second car the BMW 1M taking 4th place doing enough by achieving 409 laps in 23 hours and 55 minutes. That car had suffered suspension issues during the night and was in the garage for over an hour and forty minutes before heading back out on track.
Second place on the podium in SP3 went to CWS in the Ginetta G55 with Intersport Racing’s BMW M3 taking third place.
The event was dominated by the Seat Leon. With 12 making it through qualifying, and in the eventual standings 10 of the final 12 were Seat Leons joined only by the Volkswagen Golf of Lestrup Racing Team and the Audi RS3 of Pit Lane Competizioni. The motorsport division of the Spanish manufacturer has been involved in World Rally Championships, BTCC, WTCC as well as the one-make racing series, the SEAT León Supercopa.
The 24HR Touring Car Endurance Series moves to Magny-Cours on 21st-22nd April.
Allison Remzi Images ©Andy Fitzpatrick unless otherwise stated.