For the second consecutive year the 24 Hour Series is concluded in Brno in its traditional Epilog race, the history of which started in the last millenium. The first ever Epilog was held in 1999 as an 4 hour race. It was later established as a 6 hour race until the last season when its distance was duplicated to 12 hours. This year the Brno Epilog was originally scheduled as a 12 hour race as well - it is listed as such also in the Media Cars, however based on requests of participating team, it was prolonged to 24 hour (and duplicated again) about half year ago. However, as it became aparent during race, the points for the final championship were counted based on position after just 12 hours. This inconsistency was told to be a consequence of original schedule and plan to run the race as a 12 hour venue. This left two teams out of the race after the points were awarded...
Organisers originally promised over 50 cars and originally published entry was really that healthy. And it was worth trusting as the last year, in the Endurance 24H Series in Brno there was also 50 cars. But as the race weekend came closer, the available entry lists were shorter and shorter, with only about 40 a month before the race, then still containing 11 GT3 cars a couple of weeks before the race. But then shriking to 30 the last week, with just 5 top level GT3 class car still left there. It was then reduced to 28 and the final qualifying list contained just 26 cars. Fortunatelly still 5 GT3 cars (called as A6 in this championship) and fortunatelly there were no non-starters.
However one GT3 Audi lost oil on the track just after 13 minutes of racing and the first Code 60 was introduced. This means that all cars have to keep the speed of maximum 60 kph. This was the slowest GT3 cars. Actually the top 3 cars were Lamborghini Haracan, Ferrari 488 GT3 and Porsche 991 GT3 R, which were in this order located on the grid. The other two GT3 started a bit further back but within the first laps of the race, they moved up to fourth and fifth. Right after the start the Scuderia Praha Ferrari move to the front ahead the Lamborghini, followed by the Porsche. It was Hofor-Racing Mercedes SLS that followed, ahead of the already mentioned Audi, which retired very, very soon.
Of the rest, it was Tomáš Enge in an SP3 class KTM Coupe GT4 that occupied the spot behind the fastest GT3 machinery. After some fight with another Ferrari of team Scuderia Praha, a Challenge-like version for the SP2 class, Enge managed to overtake almost all GT3 cars during their pit stops. Enge was able to keep the KTM car on the track without refuelling for 1 hour and 40 minuted while GT3 had to make their first pit stop some 5 to 10 minutes earlier. A good idea of this series is to keep an overall position highlighted on both side of each car. And the KTM was 2nd for full one lap (we took a photo of it) but for a short period of time before being overtaken by the leading and already refuelled Porsche, the KTM was apparently in the lead - though not through the finish line.
When Enge stopped in the pits, a problem with rear axle was found and repairs took about a quarter of an hour. The race was lost for this car. The first three GT3 were now close, but having their second driver (it is reqiured that any driver would not drive the car more than 2 hours), the order soon changed from Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini to Lamborghini, Ferrari and Porsche. The Lambo was driven by a Super GT star Andrea Caldarelli. The Mercedes, the only one in the field, was running fourht, with no real competitor ahead and behind, in fact followed by the second Scuderia Praha Ferrari, separated by a notable distance.
As the race progress, the driver pairinig in the Scuderia Praha Ferrari and some stop & go penalty for the Lambo played in the hand of the Czech Ferrari team but the positions between the first Ferrari, the second Lamnborghini and the third Porsche were relatively close, one or two laps at maximum. It did not change until the half way through the race. However by then the championship points were awarded and the third Porsche, entered by Precote Herberth Motorsport, was withdrawn as the team had no interest in continuing the race to the full distance. Worries that much more teams can stop racing did not fulfil as only one other car was put aside (a Cup Porsche running at the end of the field).
Early in the second non-championship part of the race, the Lamborghini was soon out of the race and the Ferrari appeared at top top quite alone, some 30 laps aheaed the remaining GT3 car in the race, the Mercedes SLS. Further 10 laps back there the Challenge-Ferrari, also entered by the local Czech team, Scuderia Praha. Into the morning hour, the best KTM COupe GT4, driven just by Erik Janiš, stopped on course and lost its excellent 4th position. By the practically all other GT cars but the top 3 were more or less delayed while led relatively slow but very reliable Dutch Seat Leon Cup Racer enjoy the fourth place, after breaking in to the TOP 10 many hours ago.
A good thing was to see the Lamborghini back on track with some 2 hours before the end, but it then went back to the garage. Caldarelly howeven manage to improve his best lap time, setting the lap pace of the entire weekend. With the Lamborghini back into a retirement, we had still 18 cars running in the final hour - though the differences between them, at least at top 3 were really huge and nothing changed. Only the leading 991-class Porsche no.62 was trying to catch the Seat in fourth in the final hour - they were separated by only a minute with some 30 minutes to go.
At the very end of he race most of the cars rather slowed down, just to keep their position. The Porsche no.62 really and rather easily overtook the Seat, which then finished 5th ahead of a Ford MARC Focus V8, which ran in top 10 for most of the race. In fact the third Ferrari of Scuderia Praha was not a finisher. It experience major problem in the final minutes of the race, but the rules do not require a car to cross a finish line, once it is parked in the pit lane. he best KTM was 9th while the best BMW was classified as 11th.
A question remains what would happen with Brno 24 Hour and Brno Epilog races next year. Original plan made by Creventic was to convert the Brno Epilog 24 Hour into a Touring car race, which is something really unwanted here, in the Czech Republic and the Brno Circuit leadership tries to negatiate similar race for Brno also the next year. But it seems very difficult and hardly would be at the time of the traditional Epilog. May was mentioned - the month, which is along with June and partly July by far most busiest one.
Finally let's say that it was a decent race with a decent crowd, and probably best weather we could recall for any Epilog race in its history. In the past it was usually very cold (there were 2°C races where DTM cars refused to start) but today it was 17°C, no rain and mainly sunny. Good ending of the season - both in Brno and also for the RSC team.