The 1000 km race at Paul Ricard was an important race for the young AMG-driver Maximilian Buhk in a bid to prepare for the 24-hours of Spa (end of July). After the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup races in Monza and Silverstone, Buhk, together with his team-mates and the Mercedes-AMG Team HTP Motorsport, had once again a strong performance in the third championship round, however, a technical issue stopped the #84 Mercedes-AMG GT3 with just 1.5-hours to go until the chequered flag.
The 24-year-old impressed in Pre-Qualifying with the fastest laptime on Friday. Team-mate Franck Perera (FRA) set the fifth quickest time in qualifying on Saturday morning, ensuring a good starting position for the long race.
Buhk climbed behind the wheel of the number 84 race car for the six-hour race, which was interrupted by two Full-Course-Yellow periods right at the beginning. The team took the chance for their first pitstop in which Buhk remained in the car, re-joining the race in fifth place. Thanks to the good strategy by the team, the German driver was able to work his way up the leading board whilst setting consistent fast lap times. He even took the lead of the race at one stage. The #84 Mercedes-AMG GT3 was going well especially in the Long-runs and after the pitstops the team was running in P3. Whilst it had become dark at Paul Ricard, Perera got into the car for his last stint when he suffered bad luck. With only 20 laps completed in his run, he was forced to park the Mercedes-AMG GT3 on the side of the track with a technical issue.
“From the very first lap in free practice we had a strong car and we were optimistic to achieve a good result”, says Maximilian Buhk. “Our goal was not necessarily to end-up on the podium and score lots of points, the focus was more upon having a faultless race, with quick and good pitstops and driver changes and no technical incidents. We did not quite manage it and have to analyse what the issue was. But we still have a test-day at Spa in preparation for the 24-hours-race. Despite the disappointment, I am still positive and look forward to the race at Spa, because it is one of my favourite races.”
Copyright Bilder SRO / Dirk Bogaerts Photography