“Roller-coaster of emotions” for GT4 runner-up Buggyra ZM Racing in Mugello

News | April 1, 2023

After a mixed weekend, and despite losing a potential GT4 win in the closing stages of the 2023 Hankook 12H MUGELLO, Buggyra ZM Racing kept its 24H SERIES title hopes intact with the runners-up spot in Tuscany.


Words – James Gent

Images – Nico Mombaerts

Buggyra ZM Racing experienced a “roller-coaster of emotions” in Tuscany en-route to a hard-earned 2nd in-class at the 2023 Hankook 12H MUGELLO, despite retiring from the event in the closing stages.


The Emirati team came into this year’s 24H SERIES powered by Hankook European season opener having taken a maiden GT4 class win in Abu Dhabi in January, and was at the heart of a tight-fight for category honours with both South Korea’s Atlas BX Motorsports – which went on to take the class win – and Britain’s Simpson Motorsport in Mugello as well only for the #416 Mercedes-AMG GT4 to grind to a halt with clutch issues inside the closing 15 minutes of the event. Fortunately, teammates Aliyyah Koloc, Adam Lacko and David Vršecky had established a sufficient enough gap to hold on to 2nd in-class. 


“It was a bit of a hard day [on Sunday],” Koloc  explained in an official team statement. “It started off well, but in the last 15 minutes during David’s stint, he said he had a problem with the clutch and had to stop the car and we weren’t able to pass the chequered flag. So that wasn’t easy, especially as we had a good strategy and were fighting for the win for the 12 hours. It’s hard to take that we had the problem in the last 15 minutes of a 12-hour race but at least we know the strategy was the right one.” 


Ironically, the Mugello weekend started strongly for Buggyra ZM Racing, the #416 Mercedes-AMG setting the fastest GT4 lap in Free Practice by more than a second before going on to secure class pole position later than afternoon: while Vršecky set the fastest lap in his own 15-minute session, Lacko and Koloc were barely a tenth off the fastest GT4 time in their respective sessions.


A controlled opening stint from Vršecky meant the #416 Mercedes was five seconds in front when a precautionary pit stop was made 22 laps in. This cost the team nine minutes and dropping the Mercedes to 3rd in-class, five laps behind both Atlas BX and Simpson Motorsport. Two time penalties for not respecting pit stop regulations and exceeding the speed limit during the opening Code 60 didn’t help either.


Bizarrely, despite spending the following four hours 3rd in-class, the Emirati team suddenly found itself propelled to the class lead, and one lap ahead, going into the overnight intervention: the Atlas BX lost its left rear wheel at San Donato on the last lap of ‘part one,’ while a loose rear wheel (which caused the #438 BMW M4 GT4 on pit exit) and a broken rear sub-frame meant Simpson had already dropped 11 laps back. Both the South Korean and British team were then docked five laps for working on their cars overnight.


[On the Saturday], there were a lot of mixed emotions,” Koloc continues. “In the beginning things were going really well but we had to pit unexpectedly because of an issue with the brakes. So, we were behind by a couple of laps, but both cars in front of us also had problems so that brought us into the lead.” 

In yet another twist to the GT4 fight for victory, Buggyra opted to remove its car from parc fermé to fit new tyres before Sunday’s restart, consigning itself to a pitlane start in the process. Consistent opening stints from Koloc, Lacko and Vršecky meant the #416 Mercedes intermittently swapped the class lead with the recovering Atlas BX Mercedes. Brutally, Buggyra’s race came to an end with just 15 minutes left on the clock when Vršecky pulled off-track with a suspected clutch issue, though the Mercedes was still far enough ahead of the recovering Simpson Motorsport to retain 2nd in-class.


“During my stint, there were some good and some bad moments, there were a lot of Code 60s,” Koloc concludes. “I had a bit of a scary moment when I braked and slipped on some oil, so this was not such a good moment. It was nice sharing the car again with David and Adam and I am already looking forward to Spa.” 

The result means Buggyra ZM Racing, which has confirmed a full European campaign with CREVENTIC in 2023, is just four points adrift of Atlas BX Motorsports in the GT4 Teams’ standings heading into next month’s Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS on 6-7 May. 

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