NGT Racing experience a difficult 32nd edition of the 24 Hours of Zolder ZOLDER. 22nd AUGUST. "I had expected more from the race, I won't deny that", was how team manager Mac Maton summed up this heavy 32nd edition of the 24 Hours of ...
NGT Racing experience a difficult 32nd edition of the 24 Hours of Zolder
ZOLDER. 22nd AUGUST. "I had expected more from the race, I won't deny that", was how team manager Mac Maton summed up this heavy 32nd edition of the 24 Hours of Zolder. During the course of Saturday evening the team lost the car of Ruben Maes, Enzo Ide, Franz Lamot and David Loix with a damaged engine, whilst the Porsche GT3 Supercup driven by Maarten Makelberge, Bart Couwbergs, David Dermont and Geoffroy Horion finished in fifth overall, even though they had not been spared technical problems.
The qualifying sessions for the race took place on Wednesday and Thursday, in which NGT finished in second and sixth place. Ruben Maes held pole position for a long time, but in the final minutes the British entered TopCats Mosler still managed to get ahead of the Porsche 911 GT3-R.
Ruben Maes: "I would obviously have preferred claiming pole position, every driver wishes that. It wouldn't be honest of me to state that pole wasn't close to my heart. But there wasn't sufficient time left for us to counter act. On the other hand I know the car is perfect and that in the area of tyres we have put in some excellent work. The life span of the rubber plays an important role in a 24 hour race. Our set-up is also extremely good, so let the race begin."
For NGT the race started off well and after a few minutes Ruben Maes was up leading the pack, after which his team mate took over the wheel. In the meanwhile the car driven by amongst others newcomer Maarten Makelberge had slotted itself into the top-5.
"But then suddenly everything went wrong for a first time", Enzo Ide commented. "My team mate Ruben was lapping at a perfect pace, didn't take any risks and suddenly without any warning skidded off the track, most probably on an oil slick. The car was pretty seriously damaged and we were now forced with playing a catch-up game."
But unfortunately this catch-up also turned sour. David Loix was driving a tight stint when the Porsche's engine gave up the ghost. "I suddenly noticed that the car was on fire and I realised that it was 'over and out' for us."
"We immediately checked out the telemetry but there was nothing to be seen, neither did we receive any warning signals regarding the oil or water; for me this is a complete mystery why the engine broke down. We will obviously be handing over the data to Porsche in order to get to the bottom as to what caused this defect", Marc Maton concluded the story of the #11 Porsche 911 GT3-R.
In the meanwhile the #9 Porsche drove a spotless race, "our car is running like Swiss clockwork", was David Dermont 's comment during the night and some six hours from the finish the NGT Porsche 911 GT3 Supercup was lying in an excellent second place with a substantial buffer on the cars behind them. "Nonetheless we also experienced bad luck; with less than six hours to go a suspension arm broke on the car", Geoffroy Horion explained. "And our second place went up in smoke..."
However the team didn't give up and after some heavy work put in by the technical crew the car was able to take back to the track and from an eighth place they went in pursuit. Some two hours from the finish fifth place was theirs and the Maarten Makelberge, Bart Couwbergs, David Dermont and Geoffroy Horion quartet took the chequered flag in that position.
"It was an exceptional experience", Maarten Makelberge remarked. "I'm truly delighted that we managed to finish even though second place would obviously have been a better reward. I'm especially under the influence of the physical aspect of the race, Zolder is truly and endurance battle for both man and machine! But I now have a taste for it and definitely want to carry on racing."