Martin Kodric takes thrilling podium after pacey performance and super-charged finale to 70th edition Total 24 Hours of Spa in Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup
The 21-year-old Barwell Motorsports racer put in some lightning-quick stints to bring the #78 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 car home in second place in the 70th edition of the 24-hour race. But he was also left disappointed to narrowly miss out on a famous victory after making a dramatic late move on the leader with just 20 minutes to go. And while it didn’t come off, his brilliant drive and outright pace throughout the weekend left the team in second place in the Championship and bang in the title race. The ADD Management supported driver said: “I’m emotionally exhausted. “The leader had been out in front so long and I caught up really well. I had one opportunity to overtake, but he hit me as I made the move and that was the only chance I had. “I badly wanted to win it for the guys, so I’m feeling a little disappointed. But when I have the chance to take it all in, it was still a great result for us. “We got some good points and I think we now have a real chance to win the title.”
The #78 crew of Martin, Sandy Mitchell and Michele Beretta were joined by Dutch driver Rik Breukers for the fourth round of the Championship. And after their stunning win in the previous round at the Paul Ricard 1000kms in June, they were full of confidence heading into the season’s showpiece race. They finished 6th in the Silver Cup and 43rd overall in pre-qualifying with Beretta and Breukers finishing P1 in their respective qualifying sessions. Heavy traffic and a red flag prevented Mitchell getting a full lap in and left him in P8 and with it the chance of super pole had gone. While Martin was unable to get a good run on his flying lap in qualifying, he put in a good time on his second lap - despite now running on worn tyres. He did a great job to finish P3, leaving the team in P6 in the Silver Cup and 39th overall. When the iconic 24-hour race got underway, Breukers went out first with a triple stint, before handing over to Beretta and then Mitchell, before Martin took over for his first stint, putting on another exceptionally fast show before another safety car hampered his progress.
Martin Kodric: "I got us so near at the end, I gave it my best shot. But we have to look at the bigger picture. It was a solid weekend, we came second and now find ourselves second in the Championship."
Breukers went out again with the team P1 in class, handing over to Beretta and then Mitchell, with the team in front with 8 hours to go - until a drive-through penalty saw them lose a position. When Martin went out for his final stint he had a lot of work to do to catch up with the leader. But as with all his previous stints, his average times were as good as any driver on show throughout the whole field, if not better. His outright pace was electrifying at times. There was 1min 34 secs between the two cars with around two hours to go, but some of the quickest laps by anyone helped Martin remarkably close the gap until with just 20 minutes left, he drew neck and neck. However, when he tried to pass him at La Source, the leader hit the car, leaving Martin to continue the chase but to no avail - bringing the car home in second place after an amazing drive and intense battle. He added: “We had no luck at all with the safety cars, every time we were in the lead, our main competitor was in the pits so it gave them the chance to catch up when they came out, so they gained a lot of time that way. “I drove really well – I was fastest in all of my stints and some of my stint averages were fastest in the entire field. I got us so near at the end, so I am gutted. I gave it my best shot. “But we have to look at the bigger picture. It was a solid weekend, we came second and now find ourselves second in the Championship, which after the start we had is a great effort. “We now move onto Barcelona. We have some good momentum and we are in a good moment, so I think we can keep pushing for the title.”