Tough running for the AMR teams in 24H Series from Portimao

Sunday, July 07, 2019

It was certainly 'in for a penny - in for pound' as they say for Spanish based Virage Group as they entered their second race ever with one of their new Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4's, this time making it a twenty four hour affair with an AMR factory supported driver to help them on their way.

Joining these guys in Portimao, Portugal were the 24H Series GT4 Class leaders PROsport Performance with their #1 car AMR Vantage having crossed the width of Europe straight off the back of their last racing exploits in Misano, Italy in the GT4 European Series.

Virage were certainly there for experience for their new drivers with the cars whilst PROsport were there to maintain their class lead having had a near faultless track record in the series so far despite some technical issues of their own along the way with a chassis that was being raced in two other series. Two other cars from the BMW and Mercedes stables would join them in the GT4 Class ready for the start of the twenty four hour race that started on Saturday morning.

Qualifying P2 (#1) and P4 (#417), it would be a very long and winding road for the crews of each car as technical issues would soon come home to roost - firstly with the #417 but then across the shared garage bay to the #1 car that would keep their mechanics and AMR support teams busy.

PROsport were competing with their now established endurance driver line up of Rodrique Gillion, his driver coach Nico Verdonck, Akhil Rabindra and Mike David-Ortmann. The #417 car would be piloted by two of its GT4 Southern Series drivers CO Jones and Peter Peters who would be joined by Thomas Padovani and AMR World Endurance Championship racer Pedro Lamy.

The first hour of the race passed with incident for the two AMR runners as they and the Mercedes established a 2 lap lead over the Hofer BMW but that was to change inversely after hour 2 as the Hofer BMW took the lead of the class, the Prosport car P2 but with the #417 suffering from its first technical issue - brakes.

Losing number of laps, the team worked hard to get the car back out on track and by 25% distance the car was still running, albeit last in class and eleven laps down to the class leader. Trouble was soon also to lay claim within the #1 car and the race progressed towards nightfall - first it was broken rear suspension but then a brakes issue of their own.

By the half way mark, both cars were still running - just - although due to their ongoing issues had each lost over 20 laps now to the leaders. That would go from bad to worse during the night when further issues to the #1 car (exhaust) left the team with no means of repair and had to retire the car after just 332 laps.

Fortunately for the Virage car, their troubles were behind them and with the retirement of the #1 car left them in a podium claiming position should they finish the race which they did - recovering their race position to just a six lap deficit to the winning Hofer BMW after they had their own technical issues during the night.

For each team concerned, their attentions (PROsport Performance) now turn to the next round of the GT4 European Series from Zandvoort this weekend coming (so both cars will need rebuilding ready for that as they cannibalised the spare car to service the race car at Portimao). They are also listed for the next round of the 24H Series from Barcelona at the end of August.

For Virage - they are also due to race at Barcelona at the end of August but this time in the SRO GT4 Southern Series.

Photo credits - 24H Series

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