EU-GT3: Portimao: Muhlner Motorsport weekend sunnary

Gilles Vannelet shows the potential of the Muhlner Porsche Leads the FIA GT3 race in Portimao until driver change Francorchamps / Portimao. The Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium based Muhlner Motorsport Team were running two Porsche 911 GT3 R at the...

Gilles Vannelet shows the potential of the Muhlner Porsche

Leads the FIA GT3 race in Portimao until driver change

Francorchamps / Portimao. The Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium based Muhlner Motorsport Team were running two Porsche 911 GT3 R at the weekend in 9th and 10th rounds of the FIA GT3 European Championship held at the Portimao circuit in the Portugese Algarve.

The number 11 car was piloted as usual by Gilles Vannelet (France), partnered this weekend with the third different driver of the season so far. As the FIA had changed Vannelet's driver status from silver to bronze prior to the last round in Paul Ricard, he had been able to be paired with a gold status driver for his home race in the Cote d'Azur in early July and had teamed up with Antoine Leclerc, who replaced the Englishman Joe Osborne, with whom Vannelet had shared the car in Silverstone, Brunn and Jarama. After their podium at Paul Ricard, the plan was for Leclerc to stay partnered with Vannelet for the rest of the season. However, after Paul Ricard came the dictat from the FIA that Vannelet would once again be set at silver status and thus cannot be paired with a gold level driver and another silver partner had to be found.

The team managed this only on the Monday before the race as the transporter was already en route to Portugal, signing up the UK-based Austrian Niki Lanik, who won the Porsche makes challenge in the FIA GT3 championship in 2009, driving for another team.

The second Porsche, number 12, would see driving duties shared by Jurgen Haring (Germany) and Taki Konstantinou, a German-based Greek. Both are bronze status drivers who also share a Muhlner Porsche in other series. They both raced at the Algarve circuit in 2009 and were relishing the challenge of the demanding circuit. Finishing 16th and 17th for the two races, given the quality field of gold and silver status drivers, was a very respectable result.

Vannelet may have started the first race from the second row in P4 but the wily Frenchman appeared at the end of the first lap in the lead and stayed there until the driver change, the lead was as high as five seconds during the stint. Lanik, who had only driven one race so far this year and was thus not as fit and cool as he would normally be, stalled the car on the driver change and lost 6 seconds, dropping to third place in the process. On his first flying lap, he missed his braking point for the first corner and spun, losing 20 seconds in the process and dropping back to 10th place. At the flag he was 8th.

In Sunday's race, the grid was based on second qualifying and Lanik started 17th, made up a couple of places but then dropped back to 17th again before pitting after 25 minutes, the first in the entire field to pit as soon as the pit stop window was open, in 16th position. Vannelet then took over and started an impressive charge through the field which was finally rewarded with 7th place -- as much as could be achieved....

"Gilles showed with his half an hour leading the race yesterday and his recovery drive today, that our Porsche is one of the quickest cars in the field. In that regard, we can be satisfied. However, once again we are leaving without a top result. If his status had stayed at bronze so that he could be paired with a gold driver then a podium would definitely have been possible" summarised Bernhard Muhlner

-source: muehlner-motorsport.com

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Antoine Leclerc , Joe Osborne , Niki Lanik , Gilles Vannelet