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  • Writer's pictureRACERS

Aliyyah Koloc claims GT4 class win at 12H of Spa

Aliyyah Koloc and her Buggyra ZM Racing teammates took back to back victories in the second round of the 24H Series European campaign, surviving extreme weather including snow to win the 12H of Spa Francorchamps by over one lap.

Aliyyah Koloc, Buggyra ZM Racing, Mercedes AMG GT4, 24H Series, 2024 12H of Spa Francorchamps
Photo credits: CREVENTIC

Rain, snow, sleet, more rain and then sun – the 12 Hours of Spa certainly tested teams and drivers with a full range of mixed conditions and challenges, but it would be Aliyyah Koloc to emerge once again victorious in the GT4 category, securing a brilliant comeback victory alongside teammates David Vrsecky and Adam Lacko, as the Buggyra ZM Racing squad recovered from fourth on the grid to win the 12-hour race by over a lap.

Koloc and her Buggyra ZM Racing teammates therefore secured back-to-back victories in 24H Series, having also stood on the top step of the podium of the GT4 class at the first round of the European campaign.

The 19-year-old racer returned to the iconic Belgian racetrack two years after her endurance racing debut - this time as one of the favourites in an expanded GT4 field.

"Spa is a legendary track with many beautiful sections, not least the Eau Rouge - Raidillon", Koloc said before the event. "But the circuit has many other challenges to offer; it's certainly no walk in the park. But I enjoy challenges, so I am very much looking forward to racing there again."

With a double program in endurance competitions as well as off-road racing, Koloc has demonstrated extraordinary versatility in adapting to circuit racing and then transition back to some of the world's toughest rally raid competitions: only two weeks before the 12H of Spa, she had in fact contested the Ultimate Rally-Raid Transibérico W2RC event in Portugal and Spain.

Coming back to the Buggyra ZM Racing-operated Mercedes AMG GT4, she aimed to carry momentum from the spectacular victory claimed at the 12 Hours of Mugello, where she bounced back from an almost 20 lap deficit following technical issues in the first part of the race, to stand on top of the podium on Sunday. The 12 hour race at Spa Francorchamps was again divided in two splits, with a five-hour part one on Saturday, and a seven-hour part two on Sunday.

Aliyyah Koloc, Buggyra ZM Racing, Mercedes AMG GT4, 24H Series, 2024 12H of Spa Francorchamps
Photo credits: CREVENTIC

And, as per tradition at the 7.004 km legendary track, weather played a major role throughout the weekend: low temperatures, downpours and even snow consistently challenged the drivers and made team's strategies even more important – although great driving throughout the field resulted in minimal disruptions.

The Buggyra trio was third fastest in the wet practice session – led by the #438 Simpson Motorsport BMW ahead of the #400 ALFAB McLaren Artura.

David Vrsecky contested the first qualifying session and put the #416 Buggyra Mercedes AMG GT4 in third place, with a 2:56.135 again on a wet track. Adam Lacko was next for Q2, and he set a 2:52.970 that moved up the team to second in class. Aliyyah Koloc got behind the wheel for the final session, and was the fastest of the trio, clocking a 2:52.676. In the aggregate results, Buggyra ZM Racing would line up in fourth place among the GT4 cars for the first part of the race on Saturday afternoon.

"Spa is a really challenging track, very long at that." – Koloc explained after qualifying. "The weather conditions are expected to be difficult all weekend, with rain and even snow. Qualifying went well, I went in the last group, so the track had dried up quite a lot already. We are starting Race 1 from fourth in the GT4 class, so we will have to fight.“

The green flag waved in extremely demanding conditions but everyone held it together throughout the first hour. Adam Lacko took the start from fourth and managed the opening stages under minimal visibility. While the track was about to dry out, it started snowing again and Lacko was pushed wide while in traffic but survived a trip to the gravel to end his extremely consistent double stint, when Aliyyah Koloc started her first driving shift of the day.

"The first stint was good", she said, after moving up from fourth to third in class. "The weather was drier, so in the middle of the stint I went on slicks which was really good because they had a lot of grip", she explained, as she was starting to close in on the cars in front. "But when it started to rain, it got really tricky on the slicks, as some parts of the track were really wet, others really dry. So I was very careful but overall I am happy".

Aliyyah Koloc, Buggyra ZM Racing, Mercedes AMG GT4, 24H Series, 2024 12H of Spa Francorchamps
Photo credits: Buggyra ZM Racing

Next up in the car was David Vrsecky, who closed out the first part of the race on Saturday.

He resumed the pursuit of the class leaders and eventually snatched second place, making up time with a very solid run through all sorts of conditions. The track was in fact drying up enough for slicks, before a new rain shower forced the teams to gamble for tyres again, with pit stops being costly on time. Vrsecky held it together with minimal issues despite a smaòll contact with a 992 class Porsche and crossed the line at the end of the first 4-hour part in second place.

The paddock woke up to more snow on Sunday morning and the second part of the race got away behind the safety car. Adam Lacko was once again behind the wheel of the #416 Buggyra ZM Racing Mercedes AMG GT4, this time starting from second in class and P30 overall. Tyre choice was again the crucial matter, as weather continued to evolve.

Lacko had a great start and even moved into the lead at one point, before he navigated through Code-60 neutralizations. The hectic first stages saw again the track drying up and Lacko, on wet tyres, managed the tyre temperatures well before he handed over to Aliyyah Koloc.

Koloc's first part of the stint was again on wets and conditions were quickly transitioning to slicks. At her pit stop, the team had prepared slicks – but a split decision meant she had rain tyres again bolted on. That strategy call proved the winning one, as a further downpour soon after put the Buggyra Mercedes on top of the GT4 category.

With the closest GT4 rivals hitting troubles, Koloc built a safe margin and never left the lead of the race again.

The team went for slicks in Vrsecky's following stint as conditions changed again. The Czech racer had a superb run and kept extending the gap; he avoided a few tricky situations before Adam Lacko was back in the car for his first properly dry stint. In his one-hour driving shift, Lacko was unchallenged, with the #416 Mercedes now leading by two laps.

Another great strategy call ultimately sealed the deal, as the team opted for wet tyres just before the final driver change when the track was still dry; as Aliyyah Koloc got behind the wheel for the final hour, the rain made its way back over the Ardennes.

Aliyyah Koloc, Buggyra ZM Racing, Mercedes AMG GT4, 24H Series, 2024 12H of Spa Francorchamps
Photo credits: Buggyra ZM Racing

With steady pace, Koloc perfectly managed the closing minutes and crossed the finish line in the top spot, one lap clear of the Lionspeed GP Porsche 718 Cayman GT4.

"This was a good weekend", she said after the chequered flag. "On Saturday, we managed to move up to second in the class and today we had another interesting race with the weather conditions and lots of close battles on the track."

"I learned a lot this weekend, driving in the rain, in the hail and snow. The team was really great, we managed to bring the car back in first place again and we are now leading the championship. I am really happy for the team.“

With two victories in the opening two rounds of the 24H Series European campaign, Aliyyah Koloc and her teammates Adam Lacko and David Vrsecky now lead the championship standings ahead of the third round in Portimao, Portugal, which will host the first 24-hour long race on May 10-12. 



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