Buggyra ZM Racing’s Aliyyah Koloc, David Vršecky and Adam Lacko remain at the top of the 24H Series GT4 drivers’ standings. Despite some mechanical issues the team finished on the podium of the 12 Hours of Monza, albeit in a disappointing third place.
The trio endured a troublesome opening segment to the race on Saturday, leaving them with work to do during the second part. But the team made it to the end to pick up yet more valuable points to keep them four points clear of their nearest title rivals.
As for Buggyra ZM Racing itself, it retains the joint lead of the Teams’ standings heading into the next round of the season at Estoril in Portugal.
Arriving at the track dubbed the Temple of Speed as the points leaders in the GT4 class, Buggyra began the weekend in good spirits and worked on developing the best setup for the Mercedes-AMG GT4 and the correct strategy for the race.
The Monza weekend was also Aliyyah’s first time at the Italian track, which required a period of acclimatisation during practice and qualifying.
“It was my first time at Monza, which is such an iconic track,” said Koloc. “I like the track, there are some long straights, not so many corners, a long run to the first corner with top speeds of nearly 250kph.
“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. 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.”
Free Practice and Qualifying
The weekend followed the usual 24H Series format, with free practice taking place on Friday morning before the three-part qualifying session to determine the starting order for the first segment of the 12-hour race. The #416 Mercedes-AMG GT4 finished second fastest in the practice session, just under a second adrift of the quickest time.
Come qualifying, Koloc, Lacko and Vršecky delivered consistent lap-times – within seven-tenths of each other – to set the second quickest time, just a quarter of a second slower than the pole-sitters.
Koloc explained: “Qualifying went pretty well, we got second on the grid in GT4, which was a good result as it’s a long race. Our plan was to be consistent; we were up against tough competition so the plan was to have a good fight but be consistent.”
Race (Hours 1-6)
In contrast to the rest of the 12-hour format races, the first segment was run over six-and-a-half hours instead of six, with the #416 Mercedes initially holding position with Lacko at the wheel. At the end of Lacko’s time in the car, Koloc then took over and completed a double stint, showing good pace amid tyre conservation as many other cars began to encounter puncture concerns.
Unluckily, the team lost multiple laps and track position as a brake problem forced the car into the pits as the mechanics sought to find a quick fix. They were successful but the car lost significant ground to its class rivals, leaving it third in GT3 and with a large deficit to try and claw back on Sunday.
“The race started out pretty well, 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,” said Koloc.
“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. Sunday’s race is five and a half hours and the plan is to try and recover some time.
“It got pretty lonely at times as I wasn’t getting any information so my stint felt kind of long but I was consistent with my times and I think I did quite a good job, everyone was happy so I am glad. With the tyres, in the practices we got a puncture so we were trying to be careful and not push too hard, it was hot so thankfully the tyres were not an issue. Sunday’s race will be difficult because the other Mercedes is fast and hard to catch, but the BMW is only a couple of laps ahead, so we will push and see if we can catch them.”
Race (Hours 7-12)
With the team facing an uphill battle and some luck to back up their Spa victory, the second segment of the race proved a challenge. Lacko started the race and swapped with Koloc but the car was forced back into the garage by the time he brought the #416 into the pits at the end of the opening hour.
Mechanical issues meant that the car lost further ground to the second-placed car, leaving Vršecky and Koloc chasing a finish rather than an outright result. Having spent several minutes in the garage, the car resumed action and made it to the end of the race, finishing on the podium, albeit in a disappointing third place.
“I felt pretty good when I was in the car, I was driving quite consistently,” reflected Koloc. “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.”