24H Series: double female podium at Mugello 12H, Tan maintains championship lead
Updated: Mar 29, 2021
The Mugello 12H, second championship round of the 24H Series, saw a double female podium with Samantha Tan bringing home a P2 in GT4 and Karen Gaillard holding on to third in GTX class, while a series of unfortunate issues took Manuela and Corinna Gostner out of contention in GT3-Am and Sandra van der Sloot in TCX.
The Hankook 12H of Mugello saw the teams and drivers from the acclaimed 24H Series hitting the track after the two opening rounds of the season in the Emirates, with the famous 24H of Dubai – often the opening event of the calendar year – following the non-championship race at Abu Dhabi.
At the beautiful Italian racetrack – last year also part of the F1 calendar for the first time ever– six female racers could be found on the entry list of the 12-hour race: 23-year old driver-owner Samantha Tan returned to the series after a double-victory in the previous rounds in the GT4 category, sharing the Samantha Tan Racing BMW M4 GT4 with Chandler Hull and Jon Miller. The latter claimed class pole position on Friday, as the team targeted to keep momentum.
In the GT3-Am class, the bright green MP Motorsport Mercedes AMG GT3 was driven by WEC and ELMS racer Manuela Gostner, together with her sister Corinna, her brother David and her father Thomas – all Ferrari Challenge regulars – joined also by experienced driver Giorgio Sernagiotto. A small Thursday incident with David behind the wheel cost the #58 crew some track-time and they would qualify P11 in class.
The GTX class saw the return of Karen Gaillard in the Vortex V8 car, following their podium finish at the Dubai 24 hours. The French outfit battled balance issues in the practice sessions but were back on track for qualifying. After a troubled start of the weekend, Gaillard found herself P6 in GTX and P27 overall at the beginning of the first race stint.
It was a great way to kick-off the event for JR Motorsport's Sandra van der Sloot, who secured GTE division pole position in her BMW M3 F80. The Dutchwoman shared the seat with Ted van Vliet and Wad Sluys.
Unfortunately, podium finisher and TCR front-runner Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing was forced to pull out of the event with its #112 crew as early as Thursday morning, after a heavy shunt by Jasmin Preisig's teammate that destroyed the VW Golf GTI TCR.
The first four hours of racing were contested on Friday afternoon, and saw the #91 Herberth Motorsport Porsche leading the #7 Dinamic Motorsport Porsche, in a 1-2 for the German brand. The #11 MiddleCap Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo was third, after a long and entertaining battle for the leadership in the opening hours.
Samantha Tan Racing had recovered from two tire punctures and were back in the lead in GT4, with Miller, Hull and Tan alternating at the wheel. With 20 minutes left on the clock to Part 1, Tan reported vibrations and pitted. After a check, she rejoined the track – only to stop a few corners later with heavy damages to the rear-left due to a sheared wheel hub.
After stretching a comfortable lead, the team was forced to recover from over 20 laps behind in the second day.
Gaillard had a good opening stints and recovered to third in class in GTX after a consistent run, while the Gostners had lost ground on Friday due to a couple of trips to the gravel traps and were P10 in class, P12 overall.
The pole-sitting #203 BMW of van der Sloot led TCX before being pushed back in the garage with steering issues: the Dutch squad lost over one hour for repairs, but managed to send out again the car just in time to see the end of Part 1.
You can read the full Part 1 report and drivers quotes here.
On a more overcast Saturday morning, the cars lined up on the main straight for the final eight hours of racing at Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello, with Gaillard eyeing a podium and Tan aiming to charge back.
Up in front, Renauer in the #91 Herberth Motorsport Porsche had a great restart, followed by Marco Seefried and Josef Kral. Just one lap into Part 2, Mike Verschuur was called back into the pits to close the left door of his Renault RS01.
There was more drama for the #203 JR Motorsport BMW of van der Sloot, which drove back to the pits with more issues after a handful of laps.
Meanwhile, Chandler Hull was fast in the Samantha Tan BMW, but had to recover 29 laps to the leading 718 Cayman GT4 of Centri Porsche Ticino.
30 minutes in, both the Vortex cars hit trouble: the #701, driven by Lionel Amrouche, limped back to the pits, while the sister car was beached in the gravel – bringing out the first Code 60 of the day. It would only be the first of many on Saturday, with plenty of action and drama throughout the classes.
After a long stop, the #701 Vortex was sent out again, only to be tagged by the #85 CP Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 and sent into a spin into the gravel. The French team called the car back in for repairs, having dropped to fourth in GTX.
After a stint by David Gostner, Manuela jumped in the Mercedes AMG GT3 for the first time in the race, inheriting the 12th position in class. But the Italian was soon forced to two unscheduled pit stops for a front-right suspension issue. The car went into the garage at around the mid-race mark.
Hull handed over to Jon Miller in the #438 ST Racing BMW after two hours, having recovered several laps to the leaders.
With six hours left on the clock, Matus Vyboh led the overall standings in the MiddleCap Ferrari 488, ahead of Bobby Gonzales (Herberth Motorsport) and Ivan Jacoma (Dinamic Motorsport). The leading duo battled for position, before the Porsche could ultimately prevail.
The #203 JR Motorsport BMW returned on track after extensive work from the team's mechanics and Sandra van der Sloot could complete a short stint before having to dive back to the pits with more technical gremlins.
With a little over 4hours and 30 minutes to go, most of the field performed drivers changes: Manuela Gostner handed over to her sister Corinna; Samantha Tan stepped in the ST Racing BMW for the first time of the day, while Karen Gaillard finished her first driver shift and handed the steering wheel back to Lionel Amrouche.
In the final hours, the Vortex #701 caught up with the #720 RD Signs Racing Lamborghini Huracan and clinched back the third place in class despite the many issues hampering their races.
Samantha Tan had a very solid and trouble-free run and left the #438 in Hull's hands in second place in GT4, 21 laps down.
After a long stop, the #58 Mercedes of the Gostner family rejoined the race in 21st overall position, P11 in GT3-Am, as Giorgio Sernagiotto took over from Thomas Gostner for his single driving shift of the competition.
Ahead, the #91 Herberth Motorsport Porsche had built a safe gap of three laps from the #11 Ferrari, as the latter engaged in a tight fight for the runner up spot with the Dinamic Motorsport Porsche of Vyboh-Vyboh-Kral.
The battle for fifth place overall was also on fire: the #66 Haegeli by T2 Porsche had the better hand over the #18 Rutronik Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3: having swapped positions in more than a couple of occasions, the two teams finished separated by five seconds after 12 hours of intense racing.
In the final hour, both Karen Gaillard and Samantha Tan were sent back out on track for their final stints. Gaillard held third place despite a spin by her teammate just before the driver change, and crossed the finish line to claim her second podium of the season.
"I'm really really happy because it was a difficult race and we had many problems." – said the Swiss racer after the race. "But we finished the race and in third position. It was not an easy one, but I'm happy and thankful to all the team and mechanics - they did a really good job to repair the car."
It was a double female podium finish, with Samantha Tan bringing the BMW M4 GT4 home in second in class, thus maintaining the championship lead in the GT division. The team also scored the fastest lap in class.
"Overall I had a really great last stint", commented Tan. "I had my fastest times of the weekend as I felt comfortable with the track".
"We were trying to get those laps in, as we were unfortunately 23 laps down from the first place, but we still came home with a second place today, still a podium and still first in the championship points, so overall a pretty solid weekend."
The Gostner-family Mercedes finished P11 in GT3-Am and P18 overall.
"It was a complex weekend" – told us Manuela. "We as a team don't have much experience in races this long, so we're learning every race and it's all experience. In this regard, I'm very confident for the next round at Le Castellet".
It was an extremely challenging round for the #203 BMW M3 of Sandra van der Sloot: after the promising pole position and a convincing pace – the team also signed the fastest TCX lap – Ted van Vliet was ultimately forced to park the car in the closing hour when the bonnet went off in dramatic fashion.
"Unfortunately we had a lot of problems with oil pressures again today, but finally the car was very good in my stint and also for my copilots. But in the final one, unfortunately the hood went off and it pulled out the emergency system - so it's over." – said Sandra.
After 335 laps of the 5.245 km circuit, the #91 Porsche of Allemann-Bohn-Renauer-Renauer secured victory for Herberth Motorsport, having extended their lead over the MiddleCap Racing by Scuderia Praha Ferrari driven by Vyboh-Vyboh-Kral. The black and gold #7 Porsche by Dinamic Motorsport (Pampanini-Calamia-Jacoma) was third across the line.
In GTX, the #724 Reiter Engineering KTM X-Bow of Angermayr-Elghanayan-Felbermayr-Siljehaug took victory from the two Vortex V8 cars, with the #721 preceding the #701.
The 991 class saw the Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors clinching victory from the JUTA Racing and the Profildoors by Huber Motorsport Porsches.
The extremely tight-battled TCR class saw the #101 Red Camel-Jordans.nl Cupra of Ivo and Rik Breukers taking their first victory of the season, ahead of the #175 Bas Koeten Racing Cupra or Hilders and Bessem. Perrin-Detry were third in the #188 AC Motorsport Audi RS3.
The series will make its on track return in the South of France for the 12 Hours of Paul Ricard on 23-24 April.