Friday, 22 July 2016

Some details from Paul Ricard 24 hours

In some ways the Paul Ricard 24 hour race, organised by the Creventic organisation for GT3 cars, 24-hour specials and touring cars, was an unusual race. It was not unusual to see a Porsche winning, nor was the warm, dry, sunny weather a surprise. What marked it out as unusual was the fact that only one of the leading runners had a fault-free race. Not only that, but those that had problems seemed to have more, and lost more time in the pits as a result.

Out of the ten A6-Pro cars entered, only five finished and a look at the time spent in the pits for each of these is revealing in determining the destination of the silverware.

Car No. Team Car No. of stops Total time in pit
911 Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3-R 20 1h 30m 28s
30 Ram Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 20 1h 48m 16s
27 SPS automotive Mercedes AMG GT3 22 2h 02m 11s
41 HTP Motorsport Mercedes AMG GT3 24 2h 24m 25s
49 Drivex Audi R8 LMS ultra 25 5h 55m 15s

However, it is worth noting that the winning margin of the Porsche was 14 laps, or very nearly 32 minutes in terms of time. So although Ram Racing spent around 18 minutes longer in the pit than the Porsche, it still had another 14 minutes that was lost in straight speed on the track.

Let’s look at the pace of the fastest six cars – again I will constrain myself to the A6-Pro cars, and I am well aware that this excludes some quick A6-Am class runners - three of which filled the top six places - but we will return to them later.

Car No. Car Fastest lap Average of best 100 laps Average of best 20%
911 Herberth Porsche 2m 08.311s 2m 10.2s 2m 10.3s
30 Ram Mercedes 2m 08.512s 2m 10.3s 2m 10.4s
27 SPS Mercedes 2m 08.740s 2m 10.4s 2m 10.5s
41 HTP Mercedes 2m 07.261s 2m 09.5s 2m 09.5s
49 Drivex Audi 2m 09.315s 2m 12.3s 2m 12.0s
11 Scuderia Praha Ferrari 2m 08.259s 2m 09.8s 2m 09.8s
963 GRT Lamborghini 2m 07.805s 2m 09.9s 2m 09.9s
14 Optimum Audi 2m 09.023s 2m 11.9s 2m 10.9s
33 Car Collection Audi 2m 10.468s 2m 14.4s 2m 12.6s

Interesting is the fact that there is little difference between taking the fastest lap and taking the average lap times: the gaps are around the same - apart from the Lamborghini, which could not translate a fast single lap into as fast average laps. It does seem that the Audi R8 was at a (slight) disadvantage, and one wonders (quietly) what HTP was doing that made their Mercedes so much quicker than the other AMG GT3s.

And although the Hankook tyres are specified for all teams, the pressure and camber angle had a large role to play as well. The fact that (left-rear) punctures impacted the race so heavily bears testament to that.

Looking specifically at the difference between the Herberth Porsche and the Ram Mercedes, the British team’s fast laps were only a tenth or so slower than those of the German’s. Over 600 laps, that only accounts for one minute of the fourteen that I identified earlier as being the difference between the cars. To get to the bottom of this, it is necessary to look more closely at the lap times of the individual drivers.

An aspect of GT3 racing in general and Creventic-organised events in particular is that the cars are relatively easy to drive. “The car may break traction, but it does so progressively, and any slide is relatively easy to control,” one driver told me. That is not to say that all drivers can get the same out of the car though and not only the combination of drivers in crews was important, but also how the drivers were used. Here is the data for the drivers in each of the first five cars in the overall results.
911 - Herberth Motorsport Porsche
Name Laps Driving Time Best Lap Average Lap
Robert Renauer 174 6h 44m 59s 2m 08.311s 2m 09.8s
Daniel Allemann 153 5h 43m 12s 2m 10.470s 2m 11.6s
Ralf Bohn 133 5h 08m 15s 2m 11.120s 2m 12.2s
Alfred Renauer 131 5h 05m 26s 2m 08.774s 2m 09.9s

30 - Ram Racing Mercedes
Name Laps Driving Time Best Lap Average Lap
Stuart Hall 183 7h 09m 15s 2m 08.512s 2m 10.2s
Jamie Campbell-Walter 195 7h 23m 27s 2m 09.227s 2m 10.3s
Roald Goethe 49 2h 03m 19s 2m 15.794s 2m 16.4s
Dan Brown 150 5h 50m 16s 2m 09.922s 2m 10.6s

10 - Hofor-Racing Mercedes (A6-Am, minimum ref. lap time 2m 13s)
Name Laps Driving Time Best Lap Average Lap
Christiaan Frankenhout 155 6h 09m 04s 2m 11.937s *2m 13.3s
Kenneth Heyer 111 4h 08m 55s 2m 10.168s **2m 13.3s
Roland Eggimann 143 5h 41m 37s 2m 13.562s 2m 15.5s
Chantal Kroll 106 4h 17m 52s 2m 15.447s 2m 16.0s
Michael Kroll 62 2h 28m 09s 2m 16.537s 2m 17.4s
*excludes four joker laps
**excludes two joker laps

27 - SPS automotive-performance Mercedes
Name Laps Driving Time Best Lap Average Lap
Lance-David Arnold 143 5h 29m 32s 2m 08.740s 2m 10.2s
Valentin Pierburg 62 2h 36m 58s 2m 11.764s 2m 13.4s
Alex Müller 166 6h 39m 48s 2m 08.982s 2m 10.4s
Stéphane Kox 46 1h 53m 50s 2m 12.459s 2m 13.4s
Tom Onslow-Cole 158 5h 51m 49s 2m 09.352s 2m 10.5s

34 - Car Collection Audi (A6-Am, minimum ref. lap time 2m 13s)
Name Laps Driving Time Best Lap Average Lap
Ingo Vogler 124 4h 58m 51s 2m 12.830s *2m 14.1s
Elmar Grimm 152 5h 51m 36s 2m 12.597s **2m 14.0s
Johannes Dr. Kirchhoff 123 5h 09m 12s 2m 13.903s 2m 14.7s
Gustav Edelhoff 82 3h 10m 37s 2m 15.716s 2m 17.0s
Max Edelhoff 89 3h 27m 42s 2m 12.065s ***2m 13.4s
*excludes two joker laps
**excludes one joker lap
***excludes six joker laps

I have included the two cars in the top five that were from the A6-Am category in this analysis, and it makes interesting reading. It seems to me that only the HTP Mercedes, the Scuderia Praha Ferrari and the Grasser Lamborghini had the pace to beat the Herberth Porsche and all three had problems. The Precote Porsche, just as it did at Zandvoort, had a perfect race.

Herberth Motorsport celebrates its 20th anniversary in motor sport this year, having begun racing in 1996 in the ADAC GT Cup. Founded by Alfred Herberth (father of Robert and Alfred), it was a proud moment for him when his twin sons joined the grid of the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland in 2003. The team was rocked by the death of Alfred senior in a road accident in 2012, leaving Robert and Alfred to take over the team. Somehow, I think dad would be proud of the team’s achievements this year.

The competition will need to improve its reliability, if not its pace, in the two remaining 24-hour races of the season at Barcelona and Brno. If Herberth hadn’t made it look so easy in the South of France, we would have had a better race!


  1. Hi Paul, great insight thanks. I am interested to know how/where you get these stats from? I assume you use some sort of connection from the live timing?
    Thanks, Chaz.

  2. It is fascinating that the Bernd Schneider car just happened to be nearly a second per lap quicker than all the other Mercedes.

    That Herberth car is going to be tough to beat all year. None of them are restricted by driver time and their two Am drivers aren't off the pace much at all.

    Something else interesting is that I am fairly sure SPS didn't have an Am driver at all. Stéphane Kox wasn't listed, which Creventic consider "Am", but she has since been added as a silver. I don't think it'll have much bearing now, but I do wonder if one of the Dubai one-off entries is going to try to take advantage of that.