12H Monza: Kraihamer leads before technical hiccups
KTM works driver Laura Kraihamer led the overall standings in the first 12H Monza before an alternator issue relegated the Reiter Engineering trio to third in GTX class. The Gostner sisters at their endurance debut were a convincing fourth at the finish line.
The CREVENTIC-run series made its return to the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza last weekend for the 12 Hours of Monza, after the endurance race was rescheduled from its initial March calendar slot. In May, the race also had its virtual edition that saw Polish racer Gosia Rdest claiming class victory on the iRacing simulator.
As we slowly come back to real-life racing, the first edition of the Hankook 12H of Monza saw 23 teams taking the start in five classes, with some notable entrants among them: Austrian Laura Kraihamer made her return behind the wheel of the KTM X-BOW GTX Prototype for team Reiter Engineering. Together with Stefan Rosina and Eike Angermayr, the Valvoline-branded squad competed in the GTX class, with the aim of exploring the new car's limits and reliability.
In the GT3 category, Manuela and Corinna Gostner made their debut in a family-dominated team: alonsgide the Italian sisters, their father Thomas Gostner, brother David Gostner and racing mentor Giorgio Sernagiotto took turns at the wheel of the MP Racing's Mercedes AMG GT3 Evo. It was the first time that the Gostners entered a vehicle which was not a Ferrari, as all the members of this racing family are very linked to the Ferrari Challenge series, where all of them moved their first steps in motorsport.
The longest event in the history of the legendary Monza circuit begun with Equipe Verschuur's Renault RS01 claiming overall pole position on Friday, followed by Herberth Motorsport's #93 and #91 Porsches. Gostner's Mercedes lined up in fifth overall position, while the Reiter KTM was eighth overall and on GTX class pole.
At the race start, the #9 Renault driven by Harrie Kolen, Erik van Loon and Mike Verschuur maintaned the lead for the initial 16 laps, before coming to a sudden halt at Variante della Roggia. The polesitters' engine failure paved the way for the #93 Herberth Motorsport. Steffen Görig, Stefan Aust and Klaus Bachler led for 47 more laps, before themselves being slowed down by two left-rear punctures.
After a good start, Reiter Engineering's #746 KTM advanced to second place two hours into the race and then took an unexpected overall lead. Kraihamer's team would hold on to the overall first place until Friday's fourth hour race section. At the flag, the Reiter Engineering squad edged Daniel Allemann's #91 Herberth Motorsport, that would thus start second for Saturday's second part of the race. Kraihamer, Rosina and Angermayr could also count on a significant margin over GTX class second-placed ARC Bratislava, as the Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo driven by Miro Konopka, Mato Konopka and Mato Homola lost time in the opening stages due to electrical issues.
Having led the field for 12 laps, Gostner's MP Racing Mercedes opted for a different fuel strategy and was seventh at the race-break.
Unfortunately, the second part of the race wasn't as smooth as desired for the Reiter Engineering team: an alternator issue forced the KTM X-BOW GTX Prototype to a two-hour stop which costed the former leaders also the GTX class first place.
After a first sunny day with hot temperatures at the world-famous Autodromo, the race had to be red flagged on Saturday when a thunderstorm hit and flooded the circuit with four and a half hours left on the clock. At the seven-hour mark, the Herberth Motorsport Porsche #91 had moved into P1, ahead of the sister cars #92 (Jürgen Häring/Taki Konstantinou/Alfred Renauer) and #93 by Görig, Aust and Bachler.
With entire sections completely under water, zero visibility and flooded garages, the race was resumed for the remaning hours as the situation improved
At the chequered flag, Herberth Motorsport secured a commanding 1-2-3 and clinched the first ever Monza 12H victory with the #92 Porsche 911 GT3 R driven by Häring-Konstantinou-Renauer, despite late drama with 10 minutes to go: the #91 Porsche had just moved up into the lead when it stopped on track at Prima Variante, leaving winning honors to the #92, followed by Görig-Aust-Bachler in the #93 by merely 30 seconds after 12 hours of racing. Bachler, who also signed the fastest lap of the race, was massively faster in the closing stages, but could not ultimately catch up with the leading sister car.
Manuela and Corinna Gostner crossed the finish line in fourth overall position after a very successful debut race in the series and finished two laps ahead of fifth-placed Car Collection Motorsport's Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo, as the #34 squad was hindered by electronics gremlins and had to break Parc Ferme on Friday night.
"We completed the 12 Hours of Monza by 24H Series with MP Racing in fourth position and with a big smile" - wrote Corinna Gostner. "It was our family's first experience in the endurance world, and it was love at first sight".
The Italian driver will return to Ferrari machinery next weekend, as she will be back in the Iron Lynx car for the European Le Mans Series season opener at Le Castellet, France.
Having rejoined 40 laps behind overall leaders, the Reiter Engineering lineup completed a convincing recovery to claim third in the GTX class (P16 overall), behind the ARC Bratislava #707 Lamborghini - ultimately sixth overall - and the JR Motorsport BMW M3 F80.
"After a perfect first part we found ourselves leading overall by one lap - an incredible team effort in which absolutely everyone has contributed by doing a perfect job, REITER Engineering, Eike Angermayr and Stefan Rosina" - commented Laura Kraihamer.
"In the second part of the race, a broken alternator forced us to stay in the box for 2 hours for repairs. Once more the crew did a great job and we rejoined the race and worked our way through the field - again showing the strong pace of the car. This weekend has given an insight into the potential of the KTM X-BOW GTX launching this autumn and I am so looking forward to this".
KTM works driver Laura Kraihamer had a very busy weekend, as she competed in the Monza endurance race before heading to Nürburgring, where she entered the 4-hour third round of the VLN - now Nürburgring Endurance Series - with the fully-female Girls Only team together with Carrie Schreiner and Célia Martin.