Muhlner Motorsport strong at Nogaro Vosse and Jirik robbed of podium on last lap Francorchamps / Nogaro. The Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium based Muhlner Motorsport Team entered the fifth round of the FIA European GT3 Championship in Nogaro...
Muhlner Motorsport strong at Nogaro
Vosse and Jirik robbed of podium on last lap
Francorchamps / Nogaro. The Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium based Muhlner Motorsport Team entered the fifth round of the FIA European GT3 Championship in Nogaro (France) with two Porsche 911 GT3 Cup S.
The UK based Canadian Mark Thomas was sharing the number 39 Porsche GT3 Cup S with the Belgian Jean-Francois Hemroulle, the same car which the pair had driven to victory in the GT3 Division of the Spa 24 hours race earlier this season.
Another Belgian was making his debut for Muhlner Motorsport at the weekend - Vincent Vosse was sharing the number 40 Porsche with the Czech driver Jaramir Jirik; this the car which has just won the German GT3 Championship, the ADAC GT Masters, in the hands of Tim Bergmeister.
With these driver pairings Muhlner Motorsport were very confident of a good result and in both qualifying sessions Vosse & Jirik were the fastest Porsche in the field.
In the first race, both Muhlner Porsches were unable to find a way through the traffic and remained stuck in midfield. Jirik lost several places with an unsuccessful attempt to pass a slower car which was holding him up. After the driver changes (Thomas handing over the 39 car to Hemroulle, Jirik the 40 car to Vosse) the gap to the top ten places was simply too big to make good and the team had to be satisfied with 12th and 14th places.
Thus all hopes rested on Sunday's second race. Vosse had qualified the Muhlner Porsche on the third row, Hemroulle had also qualified well up the field. Vosse was able to retain his good position and run at the pace of the frontrunners. Hemroulle however got stuck in traffic, as had Jirik and Thomas in Saturday's race. In trying to pass a slower car he holed the radiator and had to retire.
Team boss Renate-Carola Muhlner left Vosse out as long as permitted whilst all of his direct competitors made their pitstops. Right at the end of the pitstop window he was called in, having made time up during the latter part of his stint.
After all had made their stops, the Muhlner Porsche was in 5th place, only 6 seconds behind 4th. Jirik was able to close down the gap and take 4th. The set-up of the Muhlner Porsche was such that Jirik could continue to push without his tyres going off whereas many others were a lot slower towards the end of the race. Thus Jirik was able to advance to third place and hold off the opposition right up until the last corner of the last lap. The fourth placed man could find no way around the Muhlner Porsche so elected to push him off at the last corner -- before Jirik could get through the gravel trap and back onto the circuit, three cars had passed and he dropped to 6th place.
"We were sixth in qualifying and finished 6th in the race. For a Porsche that is a good result in the FIA European GT3 Championship but when you lose a podium through being punted off at the last corner on the last lap, you are naturally very disappointed" was team boss Renate-Carola Muhlner's summary of the weekend.
The race commissioners subsequently gave the aggressor a time penalty which dropped him out of the points and moved the Muhlner Porsche up to 5th place.