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  • Writer's pictureRACERS

Manuela and Corinna Gostner climb the GT3 field until technical issue

While Manuela and Corinna Gostner couldn't unfortunately see the chequered flag, they were certainly protagonists of nonetheless competitive runs at the 12 Hours of Mugello, where Manuela made a remarkable recovery on Saturday after being spun on the first lap and Corinna had greatly competitive stints on Sunday morning, running solidly in the top-10 before a technical issue.

Manuela and Corinna Gostner, MP Racing Mercedes AMG GT3, 24H Series, 2024 12H of Mugello
Photo by: Creventic

After a challenging start of the 12 Hours of Mugello, Manuela and Corinna Gostner had fought back and climbed the field to battle solidly in the overall top-10 - but a technical issue in the closing hours of racing eventually brought their race to an early end.

Manuela, 2023 Ferrari Challenge Europe Shell vice-champion, returned to the Creventic 24H Series for a part-time campaign as preparation for her Ferrari Challenge title assault, following three wins and six podiums last year.

"After a long wait away from my favorite activity, it’s finally here, and I’m so ready to be back on the track for another thrilling racing challenge", she wrote ahead of the weekend.

"We’re in Tuscany for the Hankook 12 Hours of Mugello, the first round of the 24 Series. This race is one of the few that cuts the fun in half, extending the excitement over both Saturday and Sunday."

As usual, Manuela will share the #58 bright-green Mercedes AMG GT3 with her sister Corinna, her brother David and her father Thomas in the GT3-AM category.

The start of the weekend was a really positive one for the all-family effort, as the MP Racing squad was seventh overall in the pre-event test and P13 in the official practice.

Manuela took over driving duties in the Q1 session on Friday, clocking a 1:53.534 lap that would remain the team's fastest. Her sister Corinna set a 1:54.519, which combined with Thomas' 1:54.236 in Q3 placed the #58 Mercedes 15th overall and sixth among the GT3 Am class.

"Qualifying session didn’t quite go our way, despite expectations for a better outcome following our test results", Manuela commented on Saturday morning. "Our focus now shifts to today’s race, even though we’ll be starting from the back of the field. In a 12-hour endurance race, anything can happen!"

Manuela and Corinna Gostner, MP Racing Mercedes AMG GT3, 24H Series, 2024 12H of Mugello
Photo by: Creventic

Manuela - a driver with ELMS and WEC experience with multiple class top-tens at the 24 Hours of Le Mans - was the elected driver to start the race on Saturday; she had a good getaway and was about to pick up positions into the first corners when she was hit by several stray cars in a first lap incident triggered by the spinning #5 Kessel Ferrari at turn 2 and 3.

Gostner was spun around and dropped all the way down the order; while she was soon back up to speed, she would have to charge back from the tail end of the 36 car field. The #69 Lamborghini, the #909 and #993 Porsche 992 were also caught in the melee and they had to pit with heavy damage at the end of the first lap, which triggered the first code-60 of the day.

At the green flag, Manuela made up positions and set interesting lap times - although a second spin 30 minutes into the race slowed down her charge as she pushed hard. Gostner was gaining position after position and climbed the order up to the overall top ten in the second hour of racing. Despite the difficult start of the race, Manuela's stint was incredibly solid and she managed to reach the top five before pitting for fuel on lap 55, when her sister Corinna stepped in with 4 hours and 25 minutes left on the clock for the first half of the race. Despite a quick spin, Corinna's first part of her stint was equally positive and she rejoined P10 in the GT3 class.

With 3 hours to go in Part 1, Corinna Gostner completed her driving shift having shown good speed and her father Thomas took over just as the third full course yellow was deployed - making for a very positive pit stop timing.

Thomas Gostner had a very competitive second half of Saturday's race, running on competitive times throughout his stint and with no mistakes. The MP Racing Mercedes held P10 in class. David got behind the wheel for the first time in the day, and moved up to ninth in class.

The clock hit one hour to go when a huge crash on the main straight involving the Krohn Racing Porsche of Tracy Krohn brought out the Code 60. The first half of the race then ended under another Code 60 when the #985 Neuhofer Rennsport Porsche ended its day in the gravel trap.

Team GP Elite took the chequered flag of part 1 as the overall leader, ahead of the #91 Herberth Motorsport Porsche and the #27 Heart of Racing Mercedes, which had taken the start from the pit lane. Despite a tricky start, the MP Racing Mercedes of Manuela and Corinna Gostner was eighth in GT3, having brilliantly recovered.

Manuela and Corinna Gostner, MP Racing Mercedes AMG GT3, 24H Series, 2024 12H of Mugello
Photo by: Creventic

The teams gathered on the grid for the start of Part 2 in the morning of Sunday. Manuela Gostner was again at the wheel of the #58 MP Racing Mercedes for the first stint of the day - and she navigated skillfully through the busy start, that saw the Herberth Motorsport Porsche of Ralf Bohn firing into the overall lead before Max van Splunteren's Team GP Elite 991 GTR R responded back.

Unfortunately, the second day of racing was off to a tricky start for the Gostner family.

The green #58 Mercedes driven by Manuela Gostner was hit by the GT4-leading Porsche into the final corner and Manuela found herself stuck in the gravel trap. Luckily, she was retrieved by the marshals and could continue, having only lost one lap.

While Manuela Gostner was soon back up to pace, her sister Corinna was up next in the car with 3 hours and 50 minutes to go. Corinna set a new fastest lap for the car in 1:53.635, in an effort to catch the Pellin Racing Ferrari, one minute ahead in P9.

Despite a few Code 60s to slow down her driving time, Corinna had a brilliant stint that allowed her to consistently improve the team's best lap and eventually overtake Lisa Clark for P9 in GT3, having gained a full lap to the Pellin Ferrari.

Thomas Gostner took over from Corinna - in arguably one of her best endurance races of her career to date - and, despite a puncture, he was back in P10 once the Pellin Racing Ferrari had gained back the class position. Unfortunately, he soon had to pit again with a technical issue that ultimately took the MP Racing Mercedes out of contention.

"Our race at the 12 hours of Mugello has ended early today", Manuela commented. "Despite having to retire the car, this weekend was valuable track time for me, serving as an important training ahead of my upcoming championship focus."

While Manuela and Corinna Gostner couldn't unfortunately see the chequered flag, they were certainly protagonists of nonetheless competitive runs. The Gostner family Mercedes was classified P12 in GT3, having made a remarkable recovery in the hands of Manuela on Saturday after a first lap incident, as well as very competitive stints on Sunday morning by her sister Corinna.

The Gostner family will be back in action at the 12 Hours of Spa - on 19-21 April - and, later, the 12 Hours of Gulf.



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