Baptism of fire passed with flying colours: Hankook’s newly developed race tyre was in action last weekend at the Hankook 24H Barcelona and enjoyed a successful premiere at the endurance classic. The Formula 1 circuit in Spain was the venue for the European finale of the 24H Series powered by Hankook and, as expected, represented a big challenge for the first outing of the Ventus Race C54 H, which is slightly lighter than its predecessor.
The new tyre was subjected to high levels of stress on the coarse asphalt and unique kerbs of the circuit in Catalonia. The front tyres, in particular, were really put through their paces on the 4.657-kilometre track. However, the Ventus Race passed these tests with flying colours on its debut, helping the overall winner to set a new record distance of 725 laps at the Hankook 24H Barcelona.
Right from the start, the 24-hour marathon saw a captivating three-way battle develop at the head of the field, with pole-sitter IMSA LS Group Performance, the Haas RT team and Herberth Motorsport battling for the lead. In the night, the IMSA LS Group Performance team, making its first appearance since 2017 in the 24H Series powered by Hankook, was able to pull clear at the front. The excitement levels were then ramped up again towards the end of the race, when the Haas RT Audi closed in on the leader – however, the fightback came too late. After 725 laps of racing, a new record distance at the Hankook 24H Barcelona, it was IMSA LS Group Performance with Julien Andlauer, Grégory Guilvert, Simon Tirman and Laurent Hurgon in the #76 Porsche 911 GT3 R who took the chequered flag. After the race, Hurgon was full of praise for the premium tyre maker’s new product: “You could really push for several laps during a stint on the new Hankook tyre. It did degrade a bit after that, but continued to perform well. It is precisely the right tyre for endurance racing.”
The winners were followed over the finish line 1:37 minutes later by Miika Panu, Mathieu Detry, Max Hofer, Gavin Pickering and Kris Cools in the #21 Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO 2 of Haas RT. In third place was the #91 Porsche 911 GT3 R, with Ralf Bohn, Daniel Allemann, Robert Renauer, Alfred Renauer and Patrick Kolb at the wheel for Herberth Motorsport. Overall victory in the “2023 GT European Trophy” went to Atlas BX Motorsports with Steven Cho, Roelof Bruins, Jongkyum Kim, Taekeun Yang and Donggi Noh in the #403 Mercedes-AMG GT4.
In the TCE category, three-time champions Wolf-Power Racing celebrated a long-awaited victory with the #121 Audi RS3 LMS TCR, with drivers Jasmin Preisig, Ivars Vallers, Roberto Ferri and Miklas Born overcoming a broken drive shaft at the start of the 24 hours to take an excellent victory. The same fate befell Holmgaard Motorsport in the #102 Cupra Leon Competición TCR. However, second place in Barcelona was ultimately good enough for Magnus Holmgaard, Jonas Holmgaard, Roy Edland, Tom Cloet and Michael Sallenbach to secure the European title in the TCE Trophy.
Manfred Sandbichler, Hankook Motorsport Director Europe: “The new race tyre did exactly what it was supposed to. Everything went to plan, even at a circuit like Barcelona, which is challenging for the tyres. The teams obviously first had to familiarise themselves and gain experience with the new Ventus Race C54 H, and to adapt their cars accordingly. Our team supported them perfectly in this regard. When introducing this new product, the trusting partnership that has existed between Hankook and the promoter Creventic for many years really paid dividends. The spectators witnessed a 24-hour race that went right down to the wire and once again boasted everything that makes endurance racing so special.”
Driver reactions to the new Ventus Race
Alfred Renauer, Herberth Motorsport: “The new tyre consistently maintained its air pressure, making it very predictable. The rear tyres, in particular, were better than their predecessor. Only at the end of the race did they start to wear a little. We didn’t have a single puncture.”
Sergiu Nicolae, Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors: “I really enjoyed driving on the new Hankook tyres. They were even better than the previous version. We had a few issues with understeer at times, but on the whole the tyre was very stable.”
Charles Espenlaub, CP Racing: “I am very impressed by the consistency of the new tyre. As far as the peak is concerned, it is not quite as good as the old version – but it does maintain a high level of performance for a long time. We were able to implement our strategy on the tyres and had no problems.”
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