Mühlner Motorsport run two Porsche in the FIA European GT3 Championship

Mühlner Motorsport run two Porsche in the FIA European GT3 Championship

22.04.2008: Mühlner Motorsport run two Porsche in the FIA European GT3 Championship

Season opener at Silverstone

The Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium based Mühlner Motorsport Team ran two Porsche 911 GT3 Cup S in the opening round of the FIA European GT3 Championship at Silverstone.

The UK based Canadian Mark Thomas, who will contest three of the six championship rounds with Mühlner Motorsport, was driving the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup S (nr. 39) with which the team ran a roll-out test in Zolder the previous week. He was sharing the car at Silverstone with the German Jochen Krumbach, who won the Porsche Cup Class of the German Endurance Championship in 2007 driving for the Mühlner Team.

The team’s other driving pairing of Tom Cloet (Belgium) and Tim Bergmeister (Germany), who are both down to do the whole season, were driving the brand new Porsche number 40 which the Mühlner Team had had to collect direct from Weissach on the day before setting off for Silverstone.

The first free practice thus represented the first Kilometres on the clock for the new car so the non-representative times were understandable. Jochen Krumbach, one of the quickest guys on the Nürburgring Nordschleife was driving for the first time at Silverstone and used the time to learn the circuit. Mark Thomas felt comfortable with car and circuit and was satisfied.

Qualifying was a sobering experience: both Mühlner Porsches were only midfield in the 43 strong grids in both qualifying sessions. "Unfortunately half the field are ahead of us, but fortunately the other half are behind us! When you consider that we are only just starting to get to know the cars, its not so bad. We are still second and third Porsche in the field, although the other teams have a lot more experience with their cars than us" was Bernhard Mühlner’s analysis of the situation after qualifying.

At first, the first race ran according to plan: Tom Cloet made a good start and was able to head up towards the top ten. But just before the driver change it all went wrong: Cloet’s Porsche and a Lamborghini collided in such a way that the low bonnet of the Lambo went under the Porsche and right rear of the Porsche drove up and over the Lambo.

"I flew more than half a metre up in the air – it was very dangerous! Apart from any other damage, the wheel rim was so damaged that the tyre came off and I couldn’t drive it any further. A shame as up until the incident, the race had been a lot of fun and I was able to work my way up the field. The cars I was dicing with finished well up the order." Said Tom Cloet later.

Mark Thomas made a very cautious start on the slightly damp circuit and brought the car in for the routine pitstop in 21st place when Jochen Krumbach took over and was able to drive to 17th at the end. This made Thomas/Krumbach third Porsche.

"This is my first time at Silverstone and I’d never driven the new Porsche so first of all I had to learn both car and circuit. With that in mind, I’m very satisfied with my own performance. I enjoyed the race and was able to overtake other cars and see where we have a performance advantage. I’ll be looking to use what I’ve learned in the second race." Said Krumbach of the first race.

The second race on Sunday afternoon also took place on a damp track but slick were the only tyres to use, as the regulations don’t allow the use of intermediates. Tim Bergmeister and Jochen Krumbach started alongside one another on the tenth row and both were able to just avoid a start line accident. An Aston Martin ahead of them shot off to the right after a collision, hit the pit wall and bounced back to come to rest on the left hand side of the circuit.

Bergmeister was able to pass to the right but Krumbach had to brake to a stop and lost a lot of time. After the safety car phase, which the accident had necessitated, both drivers were able to make good progress through the field, Krumbach up to 10th place and Bergmeister up to 7th.

One lap after the obligatory pitstop the two Mühlner cars were in 10th (Cloet/Bergmeister) and 11th (Thomas/Krumbach) when the bad news showed on the monitor: both Mühlner Porsches received a stop and go penalty for making their driver changes "too quickly".

"It goes against all logic as Motorsport is well know as a sport which is about speed and quick reactions, but the FIA GT3 regulations sets a minimum time (depending on the length of the pitlane) for entering the pits, changing drivers and leaving the pits. As the drivers have had lots of practice at driver changes and doing the belts, they were simply too quick. We lost about ten seconds on the Saturday but on Sunday the 39 was 4 seconds too quick and the 40 fully 9 seconds too quick." Explained Bernhard Mühlner.

After the stop and go, Mark Thomas dropped back to 23rd and eventually finished 20th. Tom Cloet saw the chequered flag in 15th after a harmless collision with another Porsche.

Tom Cloet: "I drove the new Porsche GT3 Cup S at Zolder in the roll-out and the car was perfect. Handling, grip levels and engine power were great. Now, after the FIA has introduced measures to slow the Porsche, the car has got a lot worse. The three changes together amount to simply too much. As a result we were well behind in qualifying and the risk of accidents is then much higher"

Tim Bergmeister: "We have understeer as a result of the 10mm higher ride height and the additional weight and have not been able to dial it out yet. The basic principle of the Porsche GT3 Cup S is ruined by the new ruling"

Mark J Thomas: "All in all, I’m very satisfied. I feel very comfortable with both the Porsche and the Mühlner Team, with whom I’ll do these FIA GT3 races and the Spa 24hrs."

Jochen Krumbach: "As this is the first time I’ve sat in the new Cup S, I can’t really say what difference the FIA penalty measures make to the car. I very much enjoyed the Silverstone meeting. The circuit itself and the ambiance of an FIA meeting are simply great. And I’ve been able to show that I’m not just quick on the Nordschleife."

Renate-Carola Mühlner: "Obviously we are not satisfied with the weekend. We have a lot of work to do to get to the front end of the grid. Our goal is to win races here and that we will do within the foreseeable future." 


- Bernhard Mühlner, also photos

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22.04.2008 / MaP

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