Buggyra ZM Racing’s Aliyyah Koloc was able to secure her maiden Top-10 finish in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series despite suffering an arm injury during Friday Practice which ultimately led to her withdrawal on Sunday.
It was a challenging weekend for Buggyra ZM Racing and Aliyyah Koloc during last week’s NASCAR GP Italy at Autodromo Vallelunga as the Emirati driver, who took part in her first race after becoming an adult, battled through an arm injury to secure her first Top-10 finish in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
Friday’s Practice session started off on a tough note for Aliyyah. Vallelunga is a track that requires more gear changes compared to Valencia and Brands Hatch, which proved to be a big problem for the Buggyra team as Aliyyah experienced major gear shifter issues on the No. 29 Gleec Ford Mustang and during one of those many gear changes, Aliyyah strained the tendon on her right forearm.
She was able to finish in 9th place on the first EuroNASCAR 2 practice, but she did not take part in the second EN2 practice due to concerns with the injury.
After initial checks between Friday and Saturday, Aliyyah and Buggyra opted to continue with the race for the time being. The EuroNASCAR PRO Qualifying didn’t go well for Aliyyah after she only managed to secure a 24th place result, but it was a much better story in the EuroNASCAR 2 Qualifying as she finished the session in 14th place.
Contact with Thomas Krasonis in the first lap and a subsequent visit to the pits would result in her finishing the Saturday ENPRO race four laps down from the leaders, but Aliyyah was able to put herself in the contention for the top-10 during the EN2 race later that day.
A Safety Car caused by Alberto Panebianco’s crash allowed her to move further up the grid on the restart and she ran as high as 7th place when the EN2 field enters the final lap of the race. Unfortunately, she made a mistake that dropped her to 9th place at the line.
It was still her first Top-10 finish in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, but the mistake caused her to lose the Lady Trophy win to Luli Del Castello, who finished right ahead of her in 8th place.
“The race was going well and then on the last lap I had a problem with the car and I made a mistake and lost two positions. So I’m not so happy about that, but to still finish in the top 10 for the first time is good,” Aliyyah said afterwards.
The Sunday EuroNASCAR 2 race would see Aliyyah finishing in 14th place to secure another podium in the Lady Trophy, but in the end the arm injury was too much to handle and Buggyra made the decision to withdraw Aliyyah from the Sunday EuroNASCAR PRO race.
“We struggled the whole Friday with the shifting and it was only solved properly on Saturday. However, in the meantime, it did a lot of damage to Aliyyah’s arm. She still managed to achieve her best result yet on Saturday, but on Sunday, as the pain spread to her elbow, it really became too difficult for her physically,” said David Vršecký, chief designer for Buggyra ZM Racing, on the problems that the team experienced at Vallelunga.
While NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will go to the summer break at the conclusion of NASCAR GP Italy, Aliyyah would have less time to relax and recover as she is scheduled to compete in the FFSA GT4 France championship in two weeks time.
“On this track you use the whole range of gears from first to fourth and you shift more than usual, so when it’s not working properly it’s really difficult. I tried my best to continue but we decided there’s no point to damage my arm more and to get ready for the next race which will already be in two weeks time when I will race in the French GT4 series in Spa,” said Aliyyah.
Disclaimer: Unless noted on the photo, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Klemen Sofric.