Is it just me, or has there been even more of a proliferation of endurance racing this year? Certainly, in terms of the races that I have been asked to work for on radiolemans.com, there has been more to do this year than ever before.
Hence I find I have been to nine 24-hour races this year, five of which have been organised by Creventic – and if you haven’t heard of Creventic, and yet are reading this, I can only suggest you visit their website at www.24hseries.com and come back when you’ve finished!
I don’t think that there can be much doubt that this year Creventic over-stretched itself rather. After an enormously successful 2016 season, the Dutch team decided to create a separate series of races for Touring Car Endurance cars and also launch a prototype series in an attempt to provide long-distance races for owners of LMP2, LMP3 and CN cars who didn’t fancy the higher profile (and shorter distance) of the European Le Mans series races.
Although there seemed to be sufficient interest before the season started, with 17 cars on the grid for the trial 3-hour races at the Dubai Autodrome in January, the Proto series fell somewhat flat, forcing the cancellation of races up to Spa-Francorchamps last weekend. Even then, a paltry seven cars sat on the grid, two of which were Porsche 911s, and aside from Jordan Sanders crashing his LNT Ginetta beyond repair at Raidillon on the first lap of the two scheduled races, there was little in the way of action for ten hours.
There is optimistic talk of twenty cars for 2018 and an eleven-round championship (at five events) but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. Clearly, the jury is still out, but Creventic has a habit of getting things right, if not at the first time of asking, so maybe they’ll be able to turn this one around too.
The Touring Car Endurance Series fared rather better, although the mood in the early rounds was soured by some scrapping over Balance of Performance limits and class assignments. Grid sizes were variable, from a disappointing dozen at Misano to a healthy forty at Barcelona and a whopping 48 at the final round at Spa.
To be fair to Creventic, the dissatisfied competitors were listened to, the disaffected were appeased and the issues were sorted out – typical, I have to say, of the Creventic approach.
Despite the series being advertised as being for Touring Cars, GT4 cars were welcomed into the SP3 class, but were handicapped by a ‘minimum reference lap time’. In general, the balance was not too bad, and most of the races were close contests between the TCR-class cars and the theoretically faster SP3-GT4 cars. Only at Barcelona, (ironic rather, in Seat’s back yard), were the TCR’s beaten, however, with the win being taken by Nil Monserrat’s locally-entered Ginetta G55 GT4.
However, the best of the Creventic events this year have been the races for GT3 cars – or A6, as the Creventic class structure calls them. The 2017 season took place over six rounds, three being of 12-hour duration, and three over a full 24 hours. The 12-hour races were all run as ‘split’ races, with an overnight intervention, in which cars were held in parc fermé. A similar split timetable will be applied for the non-championship 24-hour race at COTA next month, with the first part on Saturday running for 14 hours, and the final ten hours running on the Sunday.
Although the COTA race is not part of the International Endurance Series, it does count for the Championship of the Continents, in which teams score the total of their results from Dubai, COTA, and their best of the European rounds.
Over the season, Herberth Motorsport’s Porsche 911 has taken three outright victories; Scuderia Praha with their Ferrari 488 took two wins, and there was one win for the Car Collection Audi R8 LMS. But the A6 teams’ championship went to the Hofor-Racing Mercedes, which ran in the A6-Am class and benefited from consistent points-scoring finishes throughout the season.
Scuderia Praha will not be at COTA, instead Ferrari’s colours will be carried by Risi Competizione, but Herberth, Car Collection and Hofor-Racing are all entered. Entries from Black Falcon (Mercedes AMG), Manthey (Porsche) and Grasser (Lamborghini) show how seriously this end-of-season jamboree is being taken at the sharp end of the grid.
Creventic’s races are streamed on the www.24hseries.com web site, with the camerawork being performed by 0221 Media Group from Cologne, Germany. Originally more used to televising music concerts, the company has quickly learned about motor-racing and a friendlier and more fun-loving bunch of people you could not wish to meet.
Creventic has just announced its 2018 calendar, which is ambitious, but has sensibly bitten off far less for next year. While there will continue to be two separate championships for GT cars and Touring cars, they will generally be run concurrently at the same races. The notable exceptions are Silverstone in March (brrr…) where there will be separate races: 12 hours for the GT’s and 24 for the touring cars; and Navarra (Spain) which is scheduled (provisionally) as a GT-only race.
Dubai and COTA will top and tail the season with 24h races in January and November, respectively. Not much time for a winter break then!
The other thing to mention about the Creventic races is their timekeeping partner, TimeService.nl. With the exception of the Barcelona 24 hours, which is the preserve of local firm Al Kamel, TimeService looks after all of the 24HSeries races. Run by Harald Roesle, and ably assisted by Rob Oude Luttikhuis and Floortje Snoek, they are extremely helpful and provide a great service. Their approach has always been rather different to that of most other timekeeping teams, largely because of their roots as a software firm, and their presentation of live timing on the internet is unsurpassed.
I expect most of my readers are already familiar with their website http://raceresults.nu, but if not, you can find all the results of past races there, plus a link to the live timing website for each event (normally http://livetiming.getraceresults.com/24hseries).
Hopefully, 2018 will be another successful year for Creventic and the 24h-series. Importantly, there will be changes to the regulations which include the removal of the dreaded ‘Minimum Reference Lap Time’ in all the classes, enabling a return to ‘pure racing’.
It should be good.