Top level championship.. but car in need of perfecting Only a few days after having linked his 2008 sporting career with that of the Muhlner Motorsport team located at Francorchamps, Tom Cloet found himself at Silverstone...
Top level championship.. but car in need of perfecting
Only a few days after having linked his 2008 sporting career with that of the Muhlner Motorsport team located at Francorchamps, Tom Cloet found himself at Silverstone for the first round of the FIA GT3 European Championship. A highly impressive competition, bringing together ever more homogenous and fast teams.
Teaming up with the excellent German driver Tim Bergmeister, the Belgian driver went into action without having had any in depth practice at the wheel of the new Porsche 997 GT3 Cup S Muhlner Motorsport. "The car hadn't even driven a meter on a track prior to arriving here ", Tom explained."On the mechanical front everything worked perfectly, however the basic set-up we had specified wasn't ideal. During the qualifying sessions I was 2"4 down on the pole position, whereas Tim found himself down 2"6 during his session. And seeing we're not allowed to alter the configuration of cars between the two sessions we knew that it would be difficult..."
Having qualified in 19th place, Tom Cloet took the start of the 60 minutes leg scheduled on the Saturday. And from the start he noticed that the car's handling had improved to such an extent that Tom's lap times were amongst the best. "It's quite simple, I was as fast in the race as during the practices, which means that the Muhlner team was working in the right direction. I was following the Dodge of Vannelet without any problem, and I very quickly climbed up into 12th place. At that moment I went on the inside of a Lamborghini Gallardo. Unfortunately the driver made a mistake and he nudged me just in front of the right rear wheel. The problem is that the Lambo is very low slung and it quite literally rammed its nose into my car! Result : I was catapulted and I flew over his bonnet ending up in the sand trap!". Even though the Porsche 997 GT3 Cup S was seriously damaged, Cloet luckily escaped unscathed. "The mechanics had a fair amount of work on their plates, seeing they had to replace quite a few components including the exhaust and the engine! But OK, apart from that misadventure everything was going well, enough for me to be quite optimistic for the race on the Sunday..."
A race in which Tim Bergmeister was taking the start from the 21st place on the grid. Unfortunately the Porsche 997 GT3 Cup S was once again going to suffer from handling problems, with chronic under steer when going into a bend and heavy over steer during acceleration. Result : a 15th place overall. "In fact we were in the top 10, but received a Stop & Go for having left the pitlane during our pit-stop before the limit of the 70 seconds as scheduled in the regulations. This caused us to fall back. Nonetheless no point in hiding one's face, the car's handling was not good. As compared to the Porsche I had the opportunity to test at Zolder, it's completely different. The height of the bodywork was raised by the FIA, the weight was increased, and all that seriously penalised us. We're going to have to increase our test sessions in order to bring it into line. I hope we'll be able to manage that as this championship is exceptionally intense and it requires far more application than that of the Citation Cup of the FIA GT. I know I'm in the right place, but there's a fair amount of work to be put in..."