Aliyyah Koloc and Chantal Prinz on the podium at 12H of Mugello
A double class podium for the women of the last 12H of Mugello: at the scenic Tuscan track, Aliyyah Koloc had a thrilling race eventually ended with second place in GT4, while 2017 overall GT champion Chantal Prinz and her Hofor Racing teammates were fourth overall and second in the GT3 Am class.
The Tuscan hills of Mugello hosted the second racing weekend of the 24H Series European season, one of the most popular endurance categories across a variety of GT and touring car classes. The 12 Hours of Mugello turned out to be an action-filled weekend, with an entry list of 39 cars - 34 GT and 5 TCE. The first half of the race started on Saturday morning with a packed grid and, after 6 hours of intense racing, positions were frozen just before the sunset - with already many plot twists just before the chequered flag. Action started again on early Sunday morning, with fuel strategy playing a big part. The grid saw the Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 #91 starting from pole position, after an hectic qualifying round on Friday afternoon; the Mercedes AMG GT3 of Chantal Prinz was ninth in the GT3 class. The German driver raced at Mugello with Hofor Racing, together with Michael Kroll, her husband Alex Prinz and Carsten Tillke; Prinz is no stranger to the 24H Series platform, having raced in the championship since 2013 and won the overall GT Teams' title in 2017 with Hofor Racing. Prinz, a Nurburgring specialist in the NLS series, made her return to CREVENTIC last year at the 24H of Barcelona, before entering the 12H of Mugello in 2023 for what is likelt to be one of her two appearances in the series this year. The drivers of the #11 Hofor Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 - competing in the AM class - showed impressive pace right from the beginning of the weekend, but an unlucky qualifying put them in ninth place on the grid. On pole position for the GT4 class was the #416 Buggyra Racing Mercedes AMG GT4 driven by Aliyyah Koloc, David Vrsecky and Adam Lacko; the three drivers, at their third participation in CREVENTIC - and with a class victory under her belt at the 6H of Abu Dhabi - were looking strong for a repeat of the result. Just before the race weekend, Buggyra Racing confirmed its full time presence in the 2023 European season. When the lights went out, the GT4 pole sitters were able to maintain their position in class, showing great speed and soon pulling away from the rest of the GT4 entries. The #11 Hofor Racing Mercedes AMG GT3, with Alexander Prinz at the start, was on "attack mode" in the opening stages, engaging in battles with the cars in front.
After a trouble-free start, battles began and the #11 Mercedes found itself fighting for the 7th place overall in a heartbeat, together with the Heart of Racing SPS Mercedes and the Kessel Racing Ferrari, hungry to gain as many positions as possible after an issue during the beginning of the weekend. The first Code-60 was deployed due to the #72 Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO I spinning and getting stuck in the gravel. But there was drama across all classes throughout the 6 opening hours. Unfortunately, the Buggyra Racing Mercedes hit trouble as soon as after 30 minutes into the race, when Adam Lacko had to pit for a brake issue and lost a few laps. They would spend the remainder of the race trying to catch back up with the leaders in class, with strong runs by Aliyyah Koloc. Towards the end of the first day, both GT3 and GT4 leaders crashed - the #85 CP Racing Mercedes spun at the Casanova corner and impacted into the tyre wall, while the #438 BMW M4 GT4 stopped while exiting the pits. With only a few minutes to go until the end of the first half of the race the #403 Mercedes GT4 - who had just earned the race lead - lost a wheel and spun at T1, handing back over the class lead to Aliyyah Koloc in the #416 Buggyra ZM Racing Mercedes just across the first chequered flag.
The second half of the race started early on Sunday morning, with the #11 Hofor Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 of Chantal Prinz starting fifth and ready to fight at the front. In the remaining 6 hours strategies played a big role, as some teams had to pit early for fuel. The #416 Buggyra Mercedes should have re-started the race first, but the team decided to pull the car out of parc ferme to change the tyres and had to start from the pitlane on Sunday morning, while having recovered the lost laps due to its rivals getting overnight penalties. Koloc and her teammates were soon back in first place in GT4 - and would remain in control for most of the second day. The #11 stints got faster and faster and Chantal, together with her teammates, found herself battling for the GT3 AM win with Heart of Race by SPS. They eventually crossed the finish line fourth overall and second in class, thus stepping on the podium after an incredible performance. Aliyyah Koloc also made it to the rostrum, but unfortunately there was late drama for the Buggyra crew: a late technical issue halted the #416 Mercedes AMG GT4 on track with only a few laps to go. They were still classified in second place due to the lap advantage to the following car.
This edition of the 12H of Mugello was definitely one for the books: Haas RT took the overall win, Vortex V8 won the GTX class, Willi Motorsports by Ebimotors took victory in the 992 and Atlas BX Motorsports claimed on the top step of the GT4 podium. “During my stint, there were some good and some bad moments, there were a lot of Code 60s", said Koloc. "I had a bit of a scary moment when I braked and slipped on some oil, so this was not such a good moment." "It was nice sharing the car again with David and Adam and I am already looking forward to Spa.” said Koloc, who will be back for more GT4 glory. Next up will be the 12H of Spa Francorchamps in May, where she made her series debut last year. Chantal Prinz, on the other hand, is eyeing a return at the 24H of Barcelona.