Two separate technical issues may have cost Buggyra ZM Racing a shot at GT4-class victory at the Hankook 12H MONZA, but solid points for 3rd place mean the Emirati-entered team did move to the top of the GT European Trophy standings in Italy.
Words – James Gent
Images – Nico Mombaerts
Buggyra ZM Racing has retained its GT4 Teams’ championship lead and moved to the top of the overall GT European Trophy standings following this past weekend’s Hankook 12H MONZA, despite technical difficulties dropping the #416 Mercedes-AMG GT4 out of contention for victory early on.
The Emirati-entered team came into the Hankook 12H MONZA with a 12-point cushion at the top of the GT4 Teams’ standings following its first win of the 24H SERIES’ European season in Spa-Francorchamps and a 2nd in-class at the Mugello season-opener. Two separate technical issues in Monza however meant Adam Lacko, Aliyyah Koloc and David Vršecky could only finish 3rd in-class behind reigning GT4 Teams’ champion Team ACP - Tangerine Associates and runaway class winner Atlas BX Motorsport. The Emirati-entered team’s lead has consequently dropped to just four points heading into next month’s Hankook 12H ESTORIL.
“After the problems of Saturday, we had an alternator problem on Sunday, so we had to come into the pits to fix the car and lost many laps,” explains Aliyyah Koloc, who, like teammate, David Vršecky, was making her racing debut at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza. But it was a learning experience for our first time here, so I think we did okay. It’s a bit of a disappointing weekend but we will use this for the next race.”
Having qualified 2nd in-class (both Koloc and Lacko posted the second fastest GT4 time in their respective 15-minute sessions, while Vršecky went quickest in his), the #416 Mercedes-AMG shadowed nearest championship rival Atlas BX Motorsport during the opening stages, with only a Code 60-related pit stop extending the gap between the pair to just under a lap after the first four hours.
A problematic brake change though during the fifth hour cost Buggyra ZM Racing 16 minutes in the pits and dropped the #416 Mercedes to 3rd in-class, behind the Team ACP BMW M4 GT4, heading into the overnight intervention. Further woes followed on the Sunday, after Lacko’s opening double stint and just one lap into Koloc’s, when the alternator failed. A further 35 minutes were lost replacing the faltering unit, dropping the #416 Mercedes 22 laps behind Atlas BX and 16 laps behind 2nd-placed Team ACP where its remained across the final 3.5 hours to the chequered flag.
Despite the frustration, solid points for 3rd in-class means Buggyra ZM Racing is now level-pegging with reigning 992 Teams’ ‘Europe’ champion Red Ant Racing at the top of the GT European Trophy standings – four points clear of Monza class winner RD Signs - Siauliai racing team – heading into next month’s Hankook 12H ESTORIL.
“The race started out pretty well,” Koloc continues. “Adam drove a really good stint, and in my time in the car I was double stinting so I was trying to manage the tyres, as people were having problems with punctures.
“Luckily we didn’t have any issues with the tyres but unfortunately we encountered a brake issue so we had to pit for a really long time, which meant we lost three laps.
“I felt pretty good when I was in the car, I was driving quite consistently. I wasn’t the fastest one out there but I was solid and steady which is important especially in a long race, and Adam and David did a good job too.
“It was a good team effort this weekend and we can take some positives into the next race. Racing the full 12 hours in one go will be challenging and a new experience for us so it will be interesting and I am looking forward to it.”
The fourth European round of this year’s 24H SERIES powered by Hankook – the inaugural Hankook 12H ESTORIL – is set to be held at the Circuito do Estoril on 7-8 July, with a 6H ‘Qualifying’ Race also be held that weekend.