Tom Cloet Tokachi 24 hour race notes

Tom Cloet and Muhlner Motorsport unlucky. Rendezvous at Adria for the Citation Cup! For a long time leading the rankings in the new Citation Cup of the FIA-GT championship, Tom Cloet logically lost his yellow jersey following on from the ...

Tom Cloet and Muhlner Motorsport unlucky.
Rendezvous at Adria for the Citation Cup!

For a long time leading the rankings in the new Citation Cup of the FIA-GT championship, Tom Cloet logically lost his yellow jersey following on from the Oschersleben meeting, as he was unable to defend same due to the absence of the Belgian SRT team, retained on the French GT front. Prior to meeting up once more with the impressive international pack the young Belgian driver went off on a long trip into the country of the rising sun, to compete in the 24 Hours of Tokachi at the wheel of the Muhlner Motorsport Porsche 997 GT3 Cup .

An undeniable specialist of 24 Hours racing, Cloet has now added this Japanese event missing from his visiting card. It gave him to opportunity to experience this interesting flat and sinuous circuit 5,5 km in length, where lap times vary between 2'16" and 2'18". In other words, a real challenge, on top of which there was an impressive grid, with several Japanese Super GTs, a few European stars (amongst others Hans Stuck) and one or other ex-F1 driver. And the least one can say is that Tom Cloet and his team mates, Tim Bergmeister, Heinz-Jozef Bermes and Gilles Vannelet, notwithstanding the level of competition were pretty impressive, clocking up the 4th best time during practice.

"Following the example of what happens in the United States, where as from the moment that you don't compete in a championship in its entirety, you have to start from the back of the pack ", Tom commented. " During two solid hours I worked hard to climb back up into the top 10, finally achieving a 7th spot before handing over to one of my team mates. Rain then decided to put in an appearance and we all had problems trying to warm the Toyo tyres in these conditions. Over a period of half an hour lap times could vary by as much as 7 seconds ! But team Muhlner weren't going to be demotivated, and we continued to attack, to climb up the rankings. I was really pleased with my times, seeing that Bergmeister, who is a reference in the Porsche world, was only lapping mere 4 tenths faster than me ."

Excellent performances which however would not allow the Porsche 997 GT3 Cup of Mulhner Motorsport to see the chequered flag. "After 13 hours of racing the engine started showing signs of loss of power whilst Tim was at the wheel ", Tom Cloet continued."Compression had dropped in one of the cylinder. Bernhard Muhlner's team went out of their way to solve the problem, but retirement was on the books. This is the first time I have had to retire for mechanical reasons at the wheel of a Porsche, and I must admit it was pretty frustrating, especially as we had covered so many kilometres! But OK, that's racing ."

Unlucky in Japan, Tom Cloet will now be continuing his 2007 season in Adria, at the beginning of September in the Citation Cup of FIA-GT championship. "I have in fact reached an agreement with Patrick Selleslagh to drive a Corvette in Italy, and we're going to do everything to regain the leadership of the Citation Cup from Macari and Aucott, who are competing in a pretty powerful Maserati MC12 JMB Racing. This also implies that I won't be competing in the 24 Hours of Zolder at the wheel of the Racing For Belgium 'Aston Martin DBRS9. The similarity of dates between Belcar and FIA-GT forces me to give priority to the international competition, and I can guarantee that everything is being done to ensure that we clinch the title at the end of the season. This is quite obviously my objective for 2007. As for 2008, this promises to be another important milestonefor me and it will, whatever might happen include Bathurst and Sebring, two major rendezvous' on the endurance front. I can presently be pretty proud of having competed in every 24 Hours event reserved for Prototypes and GTs. There are still a few Touring car races of a lesser level, but I'll get down to those when I'm 60 year's old."

-credit: tc

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About this article
Series Endurance
Drivers Tom Cloet , Tim Bergmeister , Gilles Vannelet