After taking victory in the opening round of the 24H Series campaign in Abu Dhabi, the trio came into the Mugello weekend at the top of the drivers’ and teams’ standings, and keen to build on their impressive start to the year.
Although a 12 Hour race in name, the uniqueness of the Mugello weekend was such that two races of six hours in length were run on consecutive days, with the aggregate across the two counting towards the final result.
Despite failing to reach the chequered flag on Sunday, the team was classified runner-up and collected more valuable points for the championship.
“It was a bit of a hard day today,” said Aliyyah post-race. “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.”
Free Practice and Qualifying
Things got off to the perfect start by topping free practice by almost a full second around the 5.245km circuit. That form continued into the three-part qualifying session, with the #416 Mercedes-AMG GT4 setting the fastest time in both the first and third sessions. The combined average qualifying time was just over three tenths of a second quicker than the second placed competitors.
Saturday Race (Hours 1-6)
Vrecky took the start and successfully maintained the lead of the race on the opening lap, even dicing briefly with faster Cup cars ahead of him early on. Once settled into a good rhythm, the #416 Mercedes kept up its pace but was forced to relinquish the lead after carrying out a precautionary brake change.
That unplanned time loss dropped the team several laps and down to third place but Vrecky and team-mates Lacko and Koloc reached the end of the six-hour first part of the race without any further issues.
Indeed, while luck was not on their side in the opening hour, it most certainly was come the halfway point of the weekend as both of the cars ahead encountered problems, which left the #416 leading heading into Sunday second segment.
“Today, there were a lot of mixed emotions, In the beginning things were going really well but we had to pit unexpectedly because of an issue with the brakes,” explained Aliyyah after the race. “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.”
Sunday Race (Hours 7-12)
Having inherited the lead on the final lap of Saturday’s first part of the race, the #416 should have started Sunday’s segment from pole position and with a one-lap advantage. However, the team elected to pull the car out of parc ferme and fitted new tyres.
Like Saturday’s opening salvo, Vrecky started and held a reduced lead over the chasing rival in second before swapping with Lacko, who drove an incredible stint to restore the team’s one-lap advantage at the head of the field.
The team had to overcome a number of challenges in the second part of the race, most notably several Code 60 interruptions which contributed to a somewhat stop-start nature. Aliyyah drove well during her time in the car and handed over to Vrecky in the closing stages as the team attempted to chase down the leaders for the class win. Unfortunately, the race ended in disappointment as a technical issue meant Vrecky had to pull off the circuit 15 minutes from the end, while running in second place.
Reflecting on the final result, Aliyyah said: “During my stint, there were some good and some bad moments, there were a lot of Code 60s. 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.”
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