Muhlner Motorsport finishes an eventful race on the podium
Philipp Peter and Martin Rich finish second after a visit to the gravel trap
The Spa-Francorchamps based Muhlner Motorsport Team entered the Gold Cup for GT cars, a 6hr race at Vallelunga, with two Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars.
The LIFEFORCE Porsche (#51) was piloted by Martin Rich (GB) and the professional race driver Philipp Peter (AUT). The second Porsche, number 52, was driven by the two Germans Oliver Freymuth and Wolfgang Kohler together with the Italian Christian Pigionanti. In practice the two Muhlner Porsches qualified 3rd and 5th of the Porsche 997 Cup cars.
For Freymuth the race was as good as over before it even began: on the way to the formation grid he lost control of the car, spun and crashed heavily into the wall. The left front of the car was pushed in fully a foot and all the radiators were smashed. Then began what has now become a typical miracle job by the Muhlner crew: in record quick time they fabricated temporary mounting brackets and fitted new radiators. A new front bumper was attached with the help of tanktape and tiewraps and so with its new "face" the car was belatedly able to join in behind the rest of the field.
Peter was by this time well established in 2nd place which became the lead when the car ahead stopped for fuel. Just after this came the first Safety car phase, during which the Muhlner team pulled the now leading peter in for his first fuel stop. Peter stayed in the car and returned to the fray with a lead of nearly three laps. Despite a stop-and-go penalty for accelerating too early upon leaving the pits, Peter was still able to hand over the LIFEFORCE Porsche with a class lead of 2 laps and an overall 5th place at the end of his second stint. Rich was also able to use a safety car period to refuel after 20 laps, staying in the car. After 27 laps of his 2nd stint came the crunch time: in taking avoidance action with one of the prototype cars, Rich landed in the gravel trap where he then had to stay and wait to be towed out. At the then necessary pitstop peter took over the car again but could not close down the gap to the first place car, the lead having been lost whilst rich was in the gravel trap. Rich took over for the final stint and saw the chequered flag in 2nd place.
The number 52 car had to make a couple of additional stops to get the "free floating" radiators more firmly mounted but other than that Kohler, Pigionanti and Freymuth were able to complete their stints without further problems and after 6:01.25 were able to cross the finish line as 3rd Supercup car.
"What a race! First, one car was effectively written-off before the race even started and then we lost a win in the gravel trap. But that's motor racing! Anything can happen and spins and accidents are a part of the sport. Even so, we were able to end the season on the podium. Of the 6 Belgian entries in this race, we were the best finishers although the others were running more powerful cars. We also left many more powerful cars behind us in the overall results so once again our preparation and our tactics were very good" was Bernhard Muhlner's take on the 15th and last race of the 2007 season.