Once again Lars Viljoen teamed up with the experienced French Team TFT for the 2nd round of the VdeV Endurance Series at the Ferrari owned Mugello circuit, situated in the Tuscany, Italy. Lars would team up with 2 French gentleman drivers Jacques Medard and Sebastien Morales for the 6 hour race in the new Tatuus prototype car number 5, with help from close sponsor YPI Crew.
Friday practice was a tough day as in the second practice session the water pump failed on the car while Lars was driving; causing the engine to blow. This meant that Lars and his team mates would only complete 15 laps between them.
The car was ready for qualifying on Saturday morning after a super human effort from the team and Tatuus engineers to change the engine overnight. It was up to Lars to qualify the car and after a couple of laps it seemed there was a problem, it was diagnosed after the session the throttle was only producing 70% power and with this Lars could only qualify the car in 14th position.
On race day Lars started car 5 in the 6 hour race. It was an electric first lap from Lars by making up 6 positions to 8th place. With a really strong and consistent first stint of 1 hour and 45 minutes Lars raced his way up to an impressive 3rd position after being one of the quickest on track. After a quick pit stop by the team Lars handed over to his team mate Sebastien and Jacques to take over the driving duties for the next 3 hours, they completed very strong stints without mistake placing in 6th position with an hour and 25 minutes remaining in the race. It was Lars who jumped into the car for the last stint with used tires. Straight away he set about hunting down the cars in front and after setting very quick lap times compared to the leaders Lars moved his way into 4th position after some brave over taking manoeuvres. With one lap to go and a 4th place finish in the bag bad luck would strike again and the car would run out of fuel and came to a completed stop with only a few corners to the finish! After what was a mistake by the team for under filling car 5 with fuel the final result was an impressive 5th place.
An impressive result considering the problems the team and driver’s encountered and a flawless race by Lars Viljoen, especially the speed and consistency he showed in his driving throughout the weekend by not making any mistakes.
Lars says: ‘Before the race I would have said a top 5 finishing position would have been amazing having taken that with both hands. We were on the back foot come race day and we took a chance by changing the cars setup and from the first laps of the race I knew we did the right thing as the car felt great. I had a superb start and I sliced my way through the field in the end fighting for the 3rd position at the end of my first stint. My team mates did a great job by driving consistently in their stints and I knew if I was fast and consistent I could make up positions in my last stint. Throughout the race I was making some bold and decisive overtaking moves for position and in traffic. I have to say I had differing emotions on the last lap as I thought I was going to finish in 4th which felt like a win considering the bad luck we had with the engine in practice. Then the car just stopped without warning on the last lap and I could not restart it, I was gutted! Finishing 5th in the end was a fantastic result and a great effort from everyone in the team. I think again I have shown I have the pace to race at this level and one day at Le Mans’.