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Creventic 24H Series 2018

There’s a revised calendar, new circuits and a re-formatted class structure on its way next season, and, possibly, the biggest 24H SERIES season yet.

With just one round of the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook season left to run, thoughts and focus are already turning to 2018. Not only has organising body CREVENTIC re-formatted the class system for next year – including the introduction of new categories and the splitting of others – but the Dutch agency has also amalgamated its three endurance series into one streamlined calendar, introduced a new circuit to its ever-expanding portfolio, and revised its balance of performance parameters at the (repeated) requests of teams and drivers alike. With a successful season of racing under its belt, CREVENTIC is still looking to improve its program. 

​A revised calendar structure
First order of business is the revised calendar, with the 24H GT SERIES, the 24H TCE SERIES and the 24H PROTOTYPE ENDURANCE SERIES sharing every round of the newly instigated ‘Championship of the Continents’ and at least three rounds of CREVENTIC’s European tour. Indeed, in contrast to both 2016 and 2017, all six rounds of the 24H GT SERIES European Championship will be shared with either TCE or the PROTO series, and the 2018 Hankook 24H SILVERSTONE is now the only stand-alone TCE event on the calendar (though it will be supported by a 12-hour GT/PROTO race). To some, it reads like downsizing, but to Gerrie, it offers stability for all three divisions in the long run.
“For the last two seasons we created separate events for the Touring Cars and the GTs,” CREVENTIC’s Gerrie Willems explains, “and although each championship has been very successful, we still wondered if, commercially and in terms of on-track action, this was the right way to go next year. We also think this decision will be appreciated by the teams, since combining Touring Cars and GTs will heighten competition.”
A unanimous decision then?
“Hmm, yes and no. We actually found that there were two groups: one that preferred to stick with dedicated Touring Car races – we saw at Barcelona and Spa-Francorchamps how exciting these races can be – and another that enjoys the experience of ‘racing’ a Renault Clio Cup against a GT Ferrari, so to speak.
“In this way we believe we can give the Touring Cars more attention. For instance, each GT and TCE race will have its own separate podiums and overall winners, and that includes a traditional camel ride for the overall TCE winners in Dubai next year. There will be also two separate championships as before, and opportunities for all teams to visit some of the finest race circuits in the world.”

​New races and old
Unsurprisingly, the flagship Hankook 24H DUBAI and the Circuit of the Americas bookend the 2018 calendar once again, in-between which the 24H SERIES will visit Silverstone, Imola, Portimão, Barcelona and Spa-Francorchamps. Of particular note though is the newly added Circuito de Navarra, the first of two Spanish stops on next year’s calendar.
 “The first-ever Hankook 12H NAVARRA will be for GTs and PROTOS only, and I think this track is very well suited for them,” Gerrie continues. “We have been speaking with the circuit for some time now but circumstances meant we couldn’t find a comfortable fit in the calendar. I believe we have done that now” – Navarra is the third race of the 24H GT SERIES schedule in April – “and I am confident this will be a very exciting addition.”
Were there some races though that the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook could not do without?
“Yes, yes, and YES!” Gerrie explains with a grin. “There were a number of ‘must have’ races. Silverstone for instance is the heart of British motorsport, so that had to stay. Imola was another track that the drivers really enjoyed because so few of them had driven there before. We saw a great race at Barcelona this year, and, of course, we had to have Spa-Francorchamps. Everybody loves Spa! We had a big wish list of circuits for next year.”
As in 2017, points are accrued from all three rounds of the Championship of the Continents, while only the best four races will count towards the TCE and GT European Championships. It’s a system that ensured the title fight went down to the wire this season, so ‘why fix what ain’t broke’, as the saying goes. The Ladies’ and Junior Cups also make their return for each division next season.  

​New classes
Intricate revisions to next year’s sporting and technical regulations most notably include a revised class structure. The A6 Pro and Am categories in the 24H GT SERIES continue as before, the 991 class adopting a similar format for the 991 and 991-mark-II Porsche Cup cars that are now eligible for competition. Similarly, the ever-growing popularity of TCE Touring Cars has led to the creation of two separate TCP1 and TCP2 categories for 2.5-litre and 3-litre tin tops respectively.
Arguably most significant though is the introduction of a ‘GT4’ class, which branches off completely from SP3 to become its own homologated platform. Given the recent influx of GT4 machinery into the 24H GT SERIES, this move was a no-brainer for Gerrie.
“There was so much more in GT4 this year, especially with Mercedes-AMG and Audi stepping up, and Porsche having already done so. In the past, we have welcomed GT4 cars into the SP3 classes but felt the time was right to dedicate more opportunities for these cars, and I am confident this new class will expand just as quickly as TCR. To give you an example, the price of a GT4 car is around half that of a GT3 car, and I think many of our gentleman drivers will have an equally fantastic experience in a GT4 Porsche or Mercedes. This new class is definitely one to watch next year.”
SPX and a now-991-free SP2 class continue as before in the 24H GT SERIES, with TCR, SP3, A3, CUP1 and A2 doing likewise in 24H TCE SERIES. P2, P3, PX, CN1 and CN2-spec prototypes will once again be eligible for 24H PROTOTYPE ENDURANCE SERIES competition.  

A farewell to minimum reference lap times
Further attention has been paid to the sporting regulations, with track limits – a key buzzword following last weekend’s Formula 1 US Grand Prix – now being heavily scrutinized, and ‘fair conduct’ on-track similarly going under the microscope.
There is, however, one particularly large elephant in the briefing room during our conversation with Gerrie, namely minimum reference lap times. It’s a stipulation that’s stirred no little amount of controversy throughout the 2017 season, despite the spectacularly close racing produced in consequence. Still, CREVENTIC’s customers have spoken, and minimum reference lap times will be eradicated from the A6-Am class for 2018.
It’s a process that’s involved no little amount of fine-tuning, but is ultimately the right decision in Gerrie’s eyes.
“This was a very easy decision. Although we think we did a good job, we can only do an excellent job if we listen to our customers, and this was a subject that was spoken about a lot this year. It was a very big challenge, but we think we have found a good alternative to keep the performance balanced across classes but also allow drivers to now race as fast as they can. We are very happy we’ve found a good balance that create some great racing in 2018.”
CREVENTIC’s season of frenetic endurance racing action kicks off with the 3X3H DUBAI on 5-6-7 January 2018, the 13th edition of the Hankook 24H DUBAI following just one week later on 11-12-13 January. The season concludes with the Hankook 24H COTA USA and the Hankook 3X3H COTA USA across the 15-16-17-18 November weekend. 

Posted by Creventic 24H Series on 27 October 2017 11:10

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