12H Mugello 24H Series 17-19 March 2016

First time Mugello – what a great track!

I had heard a lot of good things about the Mugello International Circuit, so immediately jumped on the opportunity to drive the 12H, part of the 24H Series 2016, there in Cor Euser Racing’s Lotus Evora GT4. I would be responsible for the data/video logging/analysis and for coaching my co-drivers Sam Allpass (GBR) and Bas Barenbrug (NLD) while Cor Euser (NLD) would show us how the pros drive it.

I arrived in Scarperia Wednesday evening after a much too eventful trip caused by a delayed flight out of Amsterdam. Knowing I would miss my connection in Rome, options were investigated and the rental car company informed about my no-show in Florence. Finally in Rome I was able to switch to a flight destined for Pisa and although having to drive a bit longer, I checked in at the hotel 4 hours earlier than if I had just waited for the next flight to Florence – good call.

Thursday morning started with a relaxed breakfast with Cor and Elly who had arrived at the hotel very late the night before. Then off to the track with Cor, meet the crew and the other drivers. We would only participate in the second optional test session, so had a lot of time to get familiar with the track facilities, all the admin sorted out, instrumenting the car for video and data recording, and catching up with friends from other teams. Cor started the session and his mission was clear – set a good lap that the rest of us could use as reference and build towards. 5 laps later and he puts down a 2.02 lap which is the minimum we are allowed to drive in our class, how impressive is that – mission accomplished! Then Bas, Sam and I take our turns, and end up between 2.05 and 2.08 – time for some data and video analysis! We quickly find the passages where time is lost and review the corresponding videos to ensure we understand how Cor is taking the corners so much quicker than we do. Full of inspiration and convinced that we’ll be able to find a couple of seconds, we finish up for the day and withdraw to the hotel for a nice dinner.

Friday morning we had to be at the track rather early as the drivers briefing started already 08:30. Before heading out on the free practice, we once again reviewed the data and video to remind ourselves what the 2.02 lap looked like. The traffic was suddenly much denser and the quicker GT3 cars seemed to be less patient than the day before so none of us managed to improve on our times so we finished the session a bit disappointed. When it also turned out that the data logger has suffered a GPS fault and no useful data had been recorded during the session, we decided to just enjoy the beautiful Tuscan weather and relax before the qualifying session where Cor would try and get as far to the front as possible. He waited for the session to calm down a bit and studied the monitors to see how our competition was stacking up. Both of the “local” Ginettas quickly posted 1.59 laps whereas the KTM and the two Dutch BMWs were not far behind. Cor finally went out and already in his 2nd flying lap put in a 1.59, good enough for P3 and we’re all very happy with that so he comes in – job done!

Time for some strategy; the race being split in two sessions, 4h on Friday and 8h on Saturday, makes it a bit different from a contiguous race. A lead of 1m55s would be lost at the end of the first session; only full laps would count at the restart. In other words, don’t get lapped and try hard to lap if the opportunity is there! Cor would start and if possible drive a full 2 hours followed by Bas to finish off the first four hours.

To be continued…