Muhlner Motorsport run two Porsches at Monza
One-two in Marques points in first race
The Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium based Muhlner Motorsport Team entered two Porsche 911 GT3 Cup S cars in the second round of the European FIA GT3 Championship.
For the Monza race, the UK based Canadian Mark Thomas shared the number 39 Porsche GT3 Cup S with the Czech Jara Jirik who has been successful driving various different marques since the championship began.
Tom Cloet (Belgium) and Tim Bergmeister (Germany) shared Porsche number 40, the car with which Tim and his brother Jorg scored their success in the Oschersleben round of the ADAC GT Masters.
In free practice, teams were only able to use their tyres from the previous round at Silverstone. Whilst the 39 car had two sets that they could use, the 40 car had only one set of well-worn tyres after their accident at Silverstone. Thus it was difficult for Cloet and Bergmeister to get a true opinion of the car set-up: "We've got the same understeer problem here in Monza that we had in Silverstone - which is strange as the problem wasn't there last time out in Oschersleben at the ADAC GT Masters meeting. So my focus is on trying to dial out the understeer," reported Tim Bergmeister
Qualifying demonstrated that this had not been the right route to take: both Muhlner Porsches lined towards the back of midfield for both races.
Thanks to good starts and quick lapping, both start drivers, Thomas (39) and Bergmeister (40) were able to work their way forward to towards the front of the field and put some distance between them and their followers - this advantage then disappeared in a Safety Car period. At the pitstops Jirik and Cloet took over the cars. Jirik steadily improved but Cloet was taken off by another car at the Parabolica and lost a lot of time. By the chequered flag Jirik got 13th and Cloet 16th. This at least made Muhlner Motorsport first and second in the Porsche rankings, for which Thomas/Jirik were awarded a trophy on the podium. With this result, Mark Thomas also took the lead in the points standings.
The second race was a tyre lottery but finally all chose to take rain tyres on the warm-up lap. Thanks to their poor qualifying position, the Muhlner Porsches didn't cross the line of the rolling start until some 40 seconds after the first car. Tom Cloet concentrated on staying out of trouble "I didn't want my 4th crash in 4 races so I was very cautious." After the pitstops, when Bergmeister took over the car but stayed on wets, they were taken off by a Ferrari and had to park up the damaged car. So the run of accidents involving the 40 car continued.
When the 39 car pitted, the Muhlner Motorsport team elected to change to slicks. Mark Thomas took over from Jara Jirik and was able to capitalise on the good tyre choice, making up over 10 places in his stint and taking the chequered flag a good 12th out of 38 competitors.