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Aliyyah Koloc takes GT4 class victory at 12H of Mugello

Aliyyah Koloc and her Buggyra ZM Racing teammates overcame a troubled first part of the weekend to bounce back from almost 20 laps down on Sunday, when the team reclaimed the top spot in the GT4 class to win the 12 Hours of Mugello.


Aliyyah Koloc, Buggyra ZR Racing Mercedes AMG GT4, 24H Series, 2024 12H of Mugello
Photo credits: Creventic

Aliyyah Koloc and her team Buggyra ZM Racing bounced back from a challenging start of the weekend to win in the GT4 class the 12 Hours of Mugello, first European round of the 24H Series by Creventic - with the 19 year old driver also setting the fastest lap of the race in the GT4 class.


Koloc, who claimed a class race win and four podiums in 2023, eventually finishing second in the GT4 team's classification, will return for a full campaign in 2024 - alongside her rally raid program for a total of 11,000 racing kilometers covered throughout her busy schedule.

The 19 year old racer has in fact already collected valuable experience in prestigious events - such as the Dakar, which she completed this year - and in GT racing, including the FFSA GT4 in 2022 and the 24H Series in 2023, where she contested her first 12 hour races.


Together with teammates Adam Lacko, and David Vrsecky, Koloc tested the Mercedes AMG GT4 at Brno, Czech Republic, before heading to Mugello for the start of their circuit season.

Testing was particularly important for Koloc, who had to adapt back to the drive of the GT4 machine after two long-distance off road events: "It's a lot of fun to transition from rallying back to the circuit. I'm feeling pretty good and I'm happy to be back with David and Adam. It's just the cold that bothers me. I miss the warmth of Dubai and Abu Dhabi," she said before the event.


Having performed well at the test, Aliyyah had her hopes high for the start of the season: "Our goal this year is to win the championship. Last year, we were very close, so we know it's possible. It won't be easy, of course, but we have to fight and produce consistent results."


Once at Mugello, though, things got complicated for Buggyra in the pre-event test. A big accident for the #416 Mercedes on Wednesday meant that the team had to bring a second chassis from the Czech Republic to Mugello - and mechanics worked overnight to fully rebuild before scrutineering. Teamwork was flawless and the drivers topped official practice with a 2:00.065 lap that was 1.4 second clear of the closest competitor.


Qualifying was also executed perfectly: Aliyyah contested Q1 and set a 2:01.673, which combined with Vrsecky and Lacko's times in Q2 and Q3 placed the Mercedes AMG GT4 on top of the class. After a challenging start of the weekend, pole position was a great reward for the tireless work of the Czech team - and all three drivers showed consistency and their performances proved to be very close to each other.


Aliyyah Koloc, Buggyra ZR Racing Mercedes AMG GT4, 24H Series, 2024 12H of Mugello
Photo credits: Creventic

Koloc was the driver elected to start the race on Saturday; there was more drama at the start as a small issue meant that she had to turn the car off and on again right at the start of the formation lap, then she avoided chaos on the first lap, when the #5 Kessel Racing Ferrari of Cuhadaroglu spun and collected several other cars in the process. Koloc had to go through the gravel to avoid - and dropped to third in GT4, although she was able to reclaim second over the first lap.


At the first Code-60 of the race at the 30 minute mark, Aliyyah pitted for fuel and rejoined in second. The Buggyra team continued its solid race and pitted again at the second Code-60, just after one hour of racing, when Aliyyah handed over the #416 Mercedes AMG GT4 to Adam Lacko, now third in class.


A brake issue made for a tricky start to Lacko's stint: when he felt a soft brake pedal and went deep into the gravel at turn 1, he luckily avoided the barrier and made it back to the pits where the team promptly changed the whole caliper and sent the #416 Mercedes back on its way. Lacko extended his stint to make up for the time lost for the unscheduled pit stop - and would grab second in class again into the third hour. Now on a different strategy, the Lionspeed GP Porsche led the class.


Next up in the Buggyra Mercedes was David Vrsecky, who cycled back into third in class.

His stint was really solid and started chipping away; just as Vrsecky was about to catch the lead of the race in the GT4 class, the #416 Buggyra Mercedes AMG lost power and the car was brought back in the garage, having suffered a fuel pump failure.


The car was back underway after a 45 minute stop - re-emerging with now Lacko back behind the wheel. But in endurance racing, there's no giving up.


Now 17 laps behind the  Lionspeed GP Porsche ahead, Buggyra ZM Racing had a mountain to climb - but also great pace with all its drivers. Lacko drove a highly competitive stint as the sun went down and the night approached.

The first half of the race ended under Code 60 when the #985 Neuhofer Rennsport Porsche

ended its day in the gravel trap. In GT4, Aliyyah Koloc's Mercedes sat third.


Aliyyah Koloc, Buggyra ZR Racing Mercedes AMG GT4, 24H Series, 2024 12H of Mugello
Photo credits: Creventic

The teams gathered on the grid for the start of part 2 in the morning of Sunday. David Vrsecky took the start for the Buggyra ZM Racing squad and battled with the class leading Porsche, although the cars were separated by almost 20 laps.

After a troubled Saturday, the second day of racing turned out to be a complete success for the team, who ran flawlessly and kept moving up with great stints. Vrsecky pitted for fuel and new tyres - and the #416 Mercedes came alive.


Meanwhile, the GT4-leading #424 Porsche hit the MP Racing Mercedes driven by Manuela Gostner - and the Lionspeed GP Porsche pitted with significant front end damage. Aliyyah Koloc jumped onboard the Buggyra Mercedes, with now 10 laps to recover for second place. Aliyyah had a monumental stint with superb pace and was about to clinch second in GT4 having erased the 10 lap deficit, when she had to pit for fuel and driver change to Adam Lacko - who retained third as the #424 Porsche re-emerged from the garage after repairs.


GT4 was again full of drama as the Hofor Racing BMW hit trouble and lost time in the garage for a broken rear axle - and Buggyra ZM moved from third to first in class in a matter of 10 laps, as the Lionspeed GP Porsche - just one lap ahead - picked up a puncture with 2 hours and 20 minutes to go.


A light rain started to fall and amidst some cars going off, Aliyyah Koloc took over from the class lead. The team opted to stay on slicks and the choice turned out to be the correct one, as the track wasn't wet enough and cars that had gambled for wets had to stop again.

Twenty minutes later, the rain significantly intensified and turned into a full shower as the race entered its final hour.


Koloc perfectly managed the tricky situation and pitted for wet weather tyres, while Patrick Kolb (Lionspeed Porsche) stayed out on slicks. While she gave up track position, her lap times were almost 15 seconds per lap faster and she reclaimed the lead once their class rivals finally pitted for wets. This strategy put Buggyra one lap clear of the competition with 50 minutes to go.


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

The rain turned into a flood, with plenty of standing water; a big accident for the #90 E2P Porsche GT3 at the end of the main straight triggered a Code-60 that ultimately ended the race. Aliyyah Koloc crossed the finish line as the GT4 winner, bouncing back from a challenging first part of the race when the Buggyra squad fought back all sorts of technical issues. Charging back from almost 20 laps down, the Buggyra ZM Racing's effort highlights the true spirit of endurance racing - when giving up is not an option - and resulted in an important class victory for the 24H Series European campaign.


“I really love Italy and the Mugello track – it’s nice to be in the greenery and not in the sand!” said Koloc. “The race was fantastic although it didn’t get off to an easy start for me on Saturday: the car wouldn’t get off the line and then two drivers spun in front of me: everything was happening!"


"The main thing is that over the course of the race I was consistent and fast", she continued. "I’m happy and I actually surprised myself. Even in the wet I had fun, so it was a great team effort and I’m really proud of the whole team after our early setback on Wednesday: we definitely have the best mechanics, so big congratulations to them!” 


The Creventic 24H Series is scheduled to return to the track on 19-21 April at Spa Francorchamps, on yet another iconic circuit for 12 more hours of pure racing action.

Aliyyah, though, will return behind the wheel from April 2-7 for the Ultimate Rally Raid in Portugal and Spain, as part of her FIA World Rally Raid Championship effort.

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