Double Podium at Zolder

Monday, August 24, 2009

Michael Mallock had another strong weekend at Zolder in rounds 5 and 6 of the GT4 European Cup, taking 2 podium finishes in very tough conditions.

Starting the first of the two races in 5th position, Michael made a great start to leap alongside the 3rd place Maserati before being focefully shoved towards the pitwall. Hitting the brakes Michael locked all four wheels in avoidance, resulting in dropping down to 10th place on the way into Turn One. A great first lap saw the 32 RSWilliams Aston Martin get back up to 7th position, soon after moving up to 6th and closing down the lead pack. Holding position until the pitstops, great in and outlaps and a very slick pitstop put Michael back out on track in clear air and able to get some of the fastest laps of the race on the board.

Lap 17 saw the move of the race, as Michael passed two cars in turn one, and a third in turn two! Now in second place Michael was easily able to pull away from the chasing pack and close the gap on the leader. With the laps counting down the gap to the lead was too big, and Michael and the team were very pleased to settle on second place, behind the RJN Nissan 350Z.

After the podium Michael said: “It's great to get a second place. We knew we were going to struggle at this track. The start was horrendous. I got alongside the Maserati, and I guess he didn't see me. I locked all four wheels trying to avoid him and dropped back to about 10th place. So getting back to second is a good tribute to the team and to the work they've done on the car to get us this far.”

Race Two saw Michael lining up second on the grid, alongside the championship leading Ginetta of Joe Osbourne. A very close start saw Michael take the lead and pull a good gap on lap one, unfortunately the increased track temperature of race two didnt suit the Aston Martin and quickly Michael was caught and passed by the Porsche of Maxime Martin.

Holding Second place until the pitstop the RSWilliams team once again called the car in at the perfect time and saw Michael get out on a clear track able to close in the gap on the leader. A very strong opening couple of laps looked like they would be good enough to be very close to the Porsche after its stop. Unfortunately 3 laps after the stop the Aston developed a gear linkage issue, meaning Michael was unable to select 2nd or 4th gear, with most of the corners at the Zolder Circuit using those gears!

A determined drive by MM saw him only loose one place in the remaining laps, and despite being hit on the last couple of laps once again by the Maserati, was able to hold on to take a second podium of the weekend, finishing in 3rd place.

“It was a very tough race. It was going well at the start. We knew the Porsche was going to be very strong on the first stint. I knew they would push very hard in the first stint, so I was looking after the tyres to take advantage after the stops, so I was happy to let them pass. But unfortunately, after the pitstop we lost all the gears apart from 3rd and 5th, when 4th and 2nd are the ones we use most here. It was really hard work. Luckily we only let Tom past, then we were very close to the Maserati, but I kept hold of it. It's great to be on the podium and I think that it's helped the championship. And 2 podiums is a great weekend.”

Michael had now moved up to 3rd in the Championship, 8 points behind the leader, and only 2 points behind the 2nd places Nissan drivers. The final rounds of the championship take place at the Portimao CIrcuit, Algarve September 12th and 13th.

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