American SpeedFest 9 proved to be a challenging weekend for Aliyyah Koloc and Buggyra ZM – MFT Racing as the team gained some important experience from the numerous troubles that the team experienced at Brands Hatch for future races.
The undulating Brands Hatch Indy Circuit marks the scene of the latest edition of the ever-popular American SpeedFest and series rookies Aliyyah Koloc and Buggyra ZM – MFT Racing experienced an equally undulating weekend on the team’s first visit to the iconic British circuit.
Buggyra ZM Racing, which entered under the Buggyra ZM – MFT Racing banner following an increase in partnership from the French-Mauritian outfit Motors Formula Team and carrying a new sponsor in cryptocurrency company Gleec.com, was only represented by Aliyyah Koloc at the SpeedFest after her twin sister Yasmeen withdrew just before the weekend started due to a combination of her injury and her incoming preparation plans for the 2023 Dakar Rally.
Aliyyah’s weekend started with a successful practice program for both her and Buggyra. She managed to log in a total of 90 laps and finished 13th in the combined Practice timesheets for both EuroNASCAR PRO and EuroNASCAR 2, managing to beat drivers such as former EuroNASCAR 2 champion Vittorio Ghirelli and former race winners Marc Goossens and Romain Iannetta in the former class.
However, Qualifying on Saturday would be the start of a challenging weekend for the debuting Emirati team. Aliyyah was able to extract the maximum from her Group 1 qualifying spot to put herself 16th on the grid in EN2, but she only qualified 25th in ENPRO despite qualifying on Group 2.
The Saturday races started off well initially for Aliyyah after she managed to climb her way to 17th in the early stages of the ENPRO races, but mechanical problems forced her to visit the pits and she would finish 24th at the checkered flag, two laps down from race winner Alon Day. More mechanical problems and a visit to gravel trap would follow in the EN2 race later that day before she was forced to retire the car late in the race.
Despite this, Buggyra was confident that they would have a better Sunday after fixing the mechanical issues and making some setup changes. Unfortunately, Aliyyah’s PRO race that day was cut very short when she crashed into the tire barriers at the front straight after she took avoiding action to avoid SpeedHouse’s Cosimo Barberini, who suddenly lost control of his car on the straight.
That incident left Buggyra with a lot of repair work to do for the second EN2 race. The team worked hard to get Aliyyah back on-track for the final race of the weekend and in the end they were able to get her car fixed just in time for the race. Aliyyah, in return, gave the team a hard-fought 12th place finish and the win in the Lady Trophy sub-classification after surviving three restarts and one Overtime period.
“The race was really crazy, the guys finished the car last-minute! Like, really last-minute, so I had to start from the pits,” said Aliyyah Koloc post-race in Buggyra’s official release. “So I started last, but I managed to overtake a lot of cars before the safety car. And then at the restart, it was a bit tricky because people were braking, and I don’t know why. But it was a really fun race; the mechanics did such an amazing job fixing the car.”
Buggyra’s first visit to the American SpeedFest might be a rollercoaster journey, but the team was able to take some positive notes from their turnaround in pace on Sunday and the strong atmosphere brought by the fans that visited Brands Hatch.
“It has been a crazy weekend at Brands Hatch, Saturday was not an easy day because we had some struggles with the setup of the car, but Sunday was a lot better,” said Ludovic Pezé, Motors Formula Team’s Team Principal.
“Aliyyah was a lot stronger on Sunday, the setup of the car was far better from a performance point of view. The atmosphere was amazing; we cannot wait to get to the next race of the season at Vallelunga.”
Disclaimer: Unless noted on the photo, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dehaese / Klemen Sofric.