|“In the world of sports cars, a 24 hour race is the undisputed highlight of the season. It will be a significant test for both the drivers and the team. We have worked hard during this season and we would like to capitalise on this effort in Barcelona. Even though we are among the best in our category and in the GT standings, we still approach every race with humility. We are still newcomers and there is always something to learn,” says Buggyra’s Head of Communication, Jan Kalivoda.Barcelona will not only crown the winner of the 24 Hours but also the European champions of the 24H Series. In the GT4 class, Buggyra ZM Racing currently holds second place, while they are in third position in the overall GT standings, which includes the more powerful GT3 cars. In both categories, the team is just two points behind the lead.The Mercedes-AMG GT4 has undergone a complete overhaul ahead of the race. “The car has undergone a complete overhaul, so we wanted to test it to check that everything is OK. We therefore ran a test last week at Most, Czech Republic, so that our two new crew members, Jaroslav Janiš and Jaromír Jiřík, could also familiarize themselves with the car. We compared times and data and both of them contributed with valuable feedback on the car’s handling and potential issues,” said David Vršecký.
The two-time winner of FIA ETRC is very much looking forward to racing on a track that also hosts a Formula 1 event. “Basically, we have been preparing for it all year. We started with six-hour races and we have completed a 12-hour race in Estoril last month. A 24-hour race is still twice as much, and it will be a new experience for us. It’s going to be tough, especially during the night. The starter list is big, so there’s going to be a lot of overtaking. And every manoeuvre is a potential problem,” explained David.
Adam Lacko is the only one of the ” orginal” trio in the Mercedes-AMG GT4 to return to sports car racing this year, having gained a lot of experience with the team during his long career. But Barcelona will also be a new experience for him.
“I have returned to endurance racing after many years and the longest race I’ve done so far was a 12-hour race. I’ve always wanted to do a 24-hour race. Le Mans is my favourite but you have to start somewhere,“ he says with a big smile. „The hardest thing about endurance racing is the night, when you only see the lights in the rear view mirror and you have to be able to judge how fast the car is coming towards you and what it will do in a corner,” Adam added .
Aliyyah Koloc made her Dakar Rally debut in January of this year, but Barcelona will be the longest race of her circuit racing career so far. Alongside some extensive tests on the track, she has been preparing in the simulator.
“A week before Barcelona, we tested in Most. I feel great and I am very happy with my physical shape. The longest circuit race of my career is approaching for me in Spain. It will be a new experience, but I am sure I will enjoy it. I have been working hard to be physically and mentally prepared for such a demanding event. I still have to learn to relax during such a long race, because I have trouble falling asleep. We have a great team so I hope we will do well,” Aliyyah said.
Jaromír Janiš is the most experienced member of the Buggyra ZM Racing driver line-up when it comes to participating in endurance races. He also has two starts at Le Mans with Spyker under his belt. “I’m happy for the opportunity to do a 24 Hours race again. I’m also glad that I was able to test the Mercedes-AMG GT4 beforehand in Most. We have set up the chassis and brakes and are as ready as we can be. I’ve been doing 24-hour races recently as an engineer. Now I’m back as a driver, but I also want to support the team in terms of race strategy. It’s great that I am now able to combine both to make sure the team gets the best possible result,” Jarek explained.
Jaromír Jiřík will make a double debut this weekend, racing in Buggyra colors for the first time and also driving a GT4 car for the first time. „I just hope that I’ll be fast enough to help the team and not hold them back too much,“ he says smiling. „I would like to thank Martin Koloc, Buggyra’s team principal, for the opportunity to race in Barcelona,” said the circuit veteran.
Jiřík, now in his 25th racing season, even claimed victory in the 2014 edition of the 24 Hours of Barcelona with Scuderia Praha. “The hardest thing about a 24-hour race is to keep your concentration and drive all laps as consistently as possible. When there’s traffic on the track, it’s hard to keep your rhythm and not get distracted,” he added.
The 24 Hours of Barcelona start at noon on Saturday. It is preceded by Friday’s qualifying which is split into three parts.