The Italian Job – Mugello Race Report
Once again Lars Viljoen teamed up with the experienced French Team TFT for the 2nd round of the VdeV Endurance Series at the Ferrari owned Mugello circuit in Tuscany, Italy. French drivers, Jacques Medard and Sebastien Morales, teamed up with Lars for the 6 hour race in the new Tatuus prototype car number 5, sponsored by your favourite Antibes crew agency, YPI Crew, of course. Here is the race report –
Friday practice was a tough day as, like in the second practice session, the water pump failed on the car whilst Lars was driving; causing the engine to blow. This meant that Lars and his team mates would only complete 15 laps between them.
The car was ready for qualifying on Saturday morning however, after a super human effort from the team and Tatuus engineers to change the engine overnight. It was up to Lars to qualify the car and after a couple of laps it seemed there was another problem. After the session it was discovered that the throttle was only producing 70% power contributing the Lars’ grid position of 14th, impressive now the circumstances are known.
On race day Lars started car 5 in the 6 hour race. It was an electric start from Lars who made up 6 positions in the field to come in 8th place after the first lap. With a really strong and consistent first stint of 1 hour and 45 minutes Lars raced his way up to an impressive 3rd position after clocking one of the quickest laps on track. After a quick pit stop by the team Lars handed over to his team mate Sebastien and Jacques to take over the driving duties for the next 3 hours, they completed very strong stints without error placing in 6th position with an hour and 25 minutes remaining in the race. It was Lars who jumped into the car for the final stint on used tires. Straight away he set about hunting down the cars in front and after setting very quick lap times compared to the leaders Lars moved his way into 4th position after some brave overtaking. With one lap to go and a 4th place finish in the bag bad luck would strike again and the car would run out of fuel and came to a completed stop with only a few corners to the finish! After what was a mistake by the team for under filling car 5 with fuel, the final result was an impressive 5th place.
A great result considering the problems the team and driver’s encountered. Lars Viljoen’s efforts were particularly impressive, especially the speed and consistency he showed in his driving throughout the weekend by not making any mistakes.
Lars says: “Before the race I would have said a top 5 finishing position would have been amazing and have taken that with both hands. We were on the back foot come race day and we took a chance by changing the cars setup and from the first lap of the race I knew we had done the right thing as the car felt great. I had a superb start and I sliced my way through the field, in the end contending for 3rd place after my first stint. My team mates did a great job by driving consistently in their stints and I knew if I was fast and consistent I could make up positions in my last stint. Throughout the race I was making some bold and decisive overtaking moves fto gain positions through tight traffic. I have to say I had differing emotions on the last lap as I thought I was going to finish in 4th which felt like a win considering the bad luck we had with the engine in practice. Then the car just stopped without warning on the last lap and I could not restart it, I was gutted! Finishing 5th in the end was a fantastic result and a great effort from everyone in the team. I think I have shown again my ability to produce the pace and consistancy to one day contend at Le Mans’.