18-year-old Dubai-born teenager Aliyyah Koloc made a strong return to the FFSA GT4 Series at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium this weekend, taking her best finish to date in the highly competitive championship.
Not since the opening round of the season at Nogaro in April had Aliyyah raced in the championship but she was joined in the #29 Mercedes-AMG GT4 by Buggyra ZM Racing chief designer David Vrsecky for the pair of one-hour races.
Qualifying was a struggle for the pair, who could only manage 36th on the grid after failing to find the ideal setup on the car. However, the race produced much better fortunes as Aliyyah managed her tires well during her stint and David perfecting a series of excellent overtakes, meaning the pair crossed the line 23rd at the end. The result was particularly satisfying as it was the team’s first evening race, which featured the additional challenge of diminishing visibility due to the setting sun as well as hanging clouds of dust from the gravel traps.
Speaking about the first race, Aliyyah reflected: “It was my first time racing this late in the day, it was really cool fun. During my stint there was a long safety car period because there was a big accident, so it got a little boring. In the first lap, there was a lot of chaos, so I just had to survive. But then the pace was really good, David did a great job as well.”
David Vrsecky took the start for Sunday’s race from 30th position. This second encounter was a case of missed opportunities as a first-corner incident in second lap cost the team time and positions right at the start of the 60-minute race. Despite this initial setback, the team rallied on and made it to the end of the race, finishing 9th in the Silver class and 25th overall.
“Today I was driving in the second stint and the temperatures were really high, so it was quite difficult,” said Aliyyah. “We pitted during the safety car, so when I got in, it was the safety car for a few laps, but I tried to stay pretty consistent and keep on the track because they were giving drivethroughs for people who left the track, so I was trying to stay careful there. “A couple of people in front of us got penalties so we gained a few positions. I’m happy with the result and I think it was a real learning weekend. I had a lot of fun with David, we had good results and I am looking forward to the next weekend.”
The team’s chief designer and Aliyyah’s mentor, David Vrecky summed up the weekend’s performance: “Our first race in the dark, we were so happy after the finish. Today, it was a little bit different because it was so hot, very difficult to make overtakes for us. A lot of cars had drivethrough penalties as well and there was a lot of contact, so today, I felt that it was a much harder race. The car was perfect, the team did a great job as well, so I am really happy with the weekend.”
The next start for Aliyyah in the French GT4 series will be at the next race in Ledenon, on 9-11 September. However, the weekend before, Aliyyah will also contest the next round of the Euro NASCAR series on the team’s home soil at the Czech circuit of Most.
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