Spa 24: Muhlner Motorsport race report

Muhlner Motorsport double win in GT3 at the Spa 24h Both Muhlner Porsche ahead of a Ferrari Francorchamps. The Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium based Muhlner Motorsport Team ran two Porsche 911 GT3 Cup S cars in the GT3 class of their home race, ...

Muhlner Motorsport double win in GT3 at the Spa 24h

Both Muhlner Porsche ahead of a Ferrari

Francorchamps. The Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium based Muhlner Motorsport Team ran two Porsche 911 GT3 Cup S cars in the GT3 class of their home race, the 24 hour race at Spa-Francorchamps.

Car number 123 was driven by Heinz-Josef Bermes (D), Mark J. Thomas (CND), Mark Basseng (D) and the Belgian Jean Francois Hemroulle.

Car number 124 was shared by Paul van Splunteren (NL), Ian Khan (MON), Roeland Voerman (NL) and the professional race driver Duncan Huisman (NL).

As always, the Muhlner Motorsport Team did the minimum necessary running on Thursday and didn't go for times. Although they each only used one of the three sets of tyres allowed, Mark Basseng and Duncan Huisman drove the two Muhlner Porsches to best and second best times in qualifying.

As the team used the Friday to prep the cars for the race, they chose not to run in third qualifying. Basseng's time was good enough to retain the pole position but two competitors went quicker than the 124 car so the two Muhlner Porsches went to Saturday's race start from 1st and 4th positions.

The race was very exciting with constant changes of position amongst the 15 car strong GT3 class. Alongside a further 5 Porsches were Ferraris, Lamborghinis and a very rapid Ascari.

"We've got very hard competition this year" acknowledged Bernhard Muhlner and continued "that is competition at the highest level, but that makes it all the more interesting and a possible success more valuable"

The two Muhlner Porsches established themselves in the early stages in the first third of the class until the 124 had an off and landed in the gravel trap. Two further offs and the resulting repair time dropped the car at times right to the back of the field. The 123 car also lost time through an unplanned pitstop to reset the setting of the throttle body.

Most of the lost time was made up through good race tactics. Ever returning drizzle meant that competitors made frequent visits to the pits to take on rain tyres - when shortly afterwards the track dried they had to stop again for slicks. The two Muhlner Porsches stayed on slicks and saved the additional pitstops.

"I had not expected to be able to stay out so long on slicks on a wet track but we had good grip and it worked well" explained Hemroulle later.

At the end of the night the 123 was leading the class comfortably by three laps and the 124 had fought its way back up to fourth place. Then came the radio message from Basseng "I've gone off and I'm stuck in the tyre wall. I'm sorry!"

It took a long time until the Porsche was able to start the slow return journey to the pits. Once he arrived, what followed was typical for the Muhlner Team: no giving up! Repairs were carried out at lightning speed and the car was given a quick service at the same time. As Basseng returned to the fray with a new front end, all thoughts were now just on getting to the finish, all hopes of a podium finish seemed to be gone.

But then a look at the timing monitors told a different story: the competition had also run into problems. The 124 was now in the lead and notwithstanding the accident, the 123 car was still in 2nd position and on the same lap as the 124. However, the 112 Ferrari and two further Porsches were within striking distance. Basseng put in one quick lap after the other and soon took back the lead whilst the 124 had slowed to be certain of a good finish after the chase up through from the back of the field.

Nothing changed in these positions through to the finish, but behind these two there was a battle for the final podium position between two Porsches and the Ferrari with the latter finally securing the position.

"I am proud of our team, the mechanics and all the rest of the team. The tyre crew, the refuelling crew, the timekeepers, the pit crew and all the other backroom crew from the kitchen crew to the masseur have all played their part in this fabulous result" thanked team boss Renate-Carola Muhlner all the team.

This was the 7th win and 3rd one-two for Muhlner Motorsport in the Spa 24hrs: 1995, 1996 (one-two) and 1997 with Opel and then 2004 (one-two), 2005, 2007 and now 2008 (one-two) with Porsches.

-credit: muehlner-motorsport.com

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Duncan Huisman , Jean François Hemroulle , Heinz-Josef Bermes , Roeland Voerman