After a luck-less Hankook 12H KUWAIT, during which its Lamborghini Huracán GT3 suffered several punctures, ARC Bratislava is hoping for improved fortunes at January’s Hankook’s 6H ABU DHABI.
Words – James Gent
Images – Petr Frýba
ARC Bratislava team boss Miro Konôpka is hopeful of improved fortunes next season after a year “full of bad luck” in 2022, exacerbated by a puncture-laden 24H SERIES season finale at Kuwait Motor Town.
The Slovakian team finished the inaugural Hankook 12H KUWAIT 20th overall after a succession of punctures dropped the #44 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 out of contention for victory very early on. With the sun having set on its 2022 campaign, ARC Bratislava is now looking for improved fortunes in 2023, which starts with CREVENTIC’s Hankook 6H ABU DHABI on 20-21 January at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Having already contested the Hankook 12H KUWAIT, this means the Slovakian team, which most recently took GTX class victory in the 24H SERIES at the 2020 Hankook 12H MONZA, will be eligible to compete for CREVENTIC’s newly-introduced Middle East Trophy in Abu Dhabi.
“This trip to the Middle East will have to be forgotten as soon as possible,” Miro Konôpka explains. “The whole year 2022 was full of bad luck and although we were often in an excellent place, it turned out badly. I believe that we have already enjoyed enough bad luck and it will not happen again in 2023. We will prepare well for the next season, which starts already in January.”
Steady rather than formidable pace during qualifying – the team prioritizing race pace on its first trip to Kuwait Motor Town rather than single lap grunt – meant the ARC Bratislava lined up 5th overall for the Hankook 12H KUWAIT itself. A post-qualifying penalty for GTX class polesitter razoon-more than racing meant the Lamborghini was moved up to 4th on the grid, and a demon start from Zdeno Mikulasko meant the #44 Huracán was already up to 2nd by the end of the first lap. By lap five, Mikulasko had taken the lead from overall GT polesitter Team Kuwait by MRS GT-Racing.
Almost immediately though, ARC Lamborghini suffered a right rear puncture through the formidably quick, 200-plus kph turn one at Kuwait Motor Town with just 10 minutes having elapsed. Though Mikulasko managed to stay on-track, the resulting pit stop handed the lead back to Team Kuwait and dropped ARC three laps behind the leaders. This was the first of an incredible eight punctures suffered during the course of the event for the Lamborghini, a blemish team boss Konôpka, who also competed alongside his son Matej in Kuwait, puts down to the abrasive nature of KMT’s kerbs rather than a setup issue with the Huracán itself.
“It's a completely new circuit, where there were sharp edges on the kerbs that had not yet been driven and that caused the defects,” Miro Konôpka continues. “…There was no point in worrying about the track any longer. Although we finished in 2nd in our class [GT3-AM], we came here with ambitions for the overall position and we cannot be happy about this at all.”
Despite its issues, and such was the pace of the Lamborghini around the 5.608km Kuwait Motor Town, Mikulasko even managed to set the three fastest laps of the race in the closing stages, and five of the 11 fastest laps set during the course of the event. Indeed, Mikulasko’s 1m 52.062s best quicker even than the 1m 52.111s posted by Zaid Ashkanani to secure outright pole position for Team Kuwait!
ARC Bratislava’s next CREVENTIC outing – the Hankook 6H ABU DHABI – takes place just one week after the 18th annual Hankook 24H DUBAI on 13-14-15 January. The Slovakian team has also expressed an interest in competing at the Hankook 12H MUGELLO, and, with its Ligier JS P320, next year’s Prototype Cup Germany, the national prototype series co-organized by CREVENTIC and ADAC.