October 16, 2013….The MOMO NGT Motorsport Team announced today it has withdrawn the No. 30 MOMO NGT Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 entry from the GTC class for the Petit Le Mans race, Saturday, October 19. This gesture is to honor the memory of driver, teammate and friend Sean Edwards, who was killed in a driver coaching accident in Australia earlier this week.
The No. 31 MOMO NGT Motorsports entry, with a special livery that resembles a MOMO firesuit, will compete as entered with drivers Angel Benitez Jr., Nicholas Armindo and Christina Nielsen. Armindo and Nielsen are seasoned Porsche drivers, currently regularly competing in other sports car racing series around the world. Benitez is pulling double duty, also competing in the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge series this week at Road Atlanta.
The Petit Le Mans race is a 1000 kilometer or 10 hour maximum race on the world class 12-turn Road Atlanta circuit, which opened in 1970.
Ramez Wahab, NGT Motorsport Owner/MOMO NGT Motorsport Team Manager:
The MOMO NGT Motorsport team had to make a big decision about running the No. 30 car and competing for the GTC championship. “Obviously we had very sad and shocking news. We still can’t believe it. Our buddy Sean passed away. We thought it was the most appropriate thing to do, to withdraw the car in Sean’s honor. We just don’t feel it would be right to enter the car, with the many memories of Sean, and because we miss him already.”
“Road Atlanta is one of our favorite tracks. It's a very fast yet technical with lots of elevation changes. It is always a challenge to race at Road Atlanta. We always had lots of success and we intend to keep it that way.”
You have added a new driver to the MOMO NGT Motorsport mix with Christina Nielsen. How did her addition come about?
“As per the GTC requirements we needed a silver ranked driver and Christina came very highly recommended to us. She raced in the past with almost every one of our Pro drivers so I thought we should “give her a shot”. Her early week on track performance proved already that it was a good call.”
Angel Benitez, Jr., No. 31 MOMO NGT Motorsport driver:
Tell us about your past experiences racing at Road Atlanta.
“Road Atlanta has been a good track for me. I love the circuit and we have been fast every time we were there. Last year I competed in the Gold class in the IMSA GT3 Cup, winning both races. I also had the opportunity to race in the Petit Le Mans, where I think we had a really good chance to finish in podium but a mechanical failure didn't let us finish the race.”
In addition to running in the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge this weekend, you will also be competing in the ALMS GTC class and with new co-drivers. Share your thoughts on the challenging GTC class and working with teammates. “Yes, I am really excited with this new chance to show what we can do in the NGT MOMO Porsche! GTC is a fun, practical and a very competitive class in the ALMS. You have to be a real team player for endurance races and with the support from MOMO and NGT we will show that we really know how to do it in the best way. It is going to be a hard weekend because the championship will be decided in this last race and everyone will be pushing but we will give the best of everything to do great in the race.”
You have been representing MOMO all year. What does this opportunity to compete in the Petit Le Mans race mean to you? “I'm thankful of the opportunity that MOMO is giving me to be in one of their cars in the Petit Le Mans. It means that they are watching me and even when I had a really hard and challenging year in the GT3 Cup Challenge, they are rewarding me with a seat for the second most important race of the year, after Sebring. As with the whole year, I'll be quick and I'm going to work hard to fill the space in the best way possible and bring the car home with a victory. MOMO has been a really helpful partner through the year and we both have elevated in the GT3 Cup Challenge together, earning poles, victories and fast laps. We have also shown that with MOMO products, it can improve how you feel inside the car.”
Nicolas Armindo, No. 31 MOMO NGT Motorsport driver:
This will be your second time competing with the MOMO NGT Motorsport team this season. How was the first experience and what are your expectations this weekend? “The first experience was great because I won the race in my class. For this weekend we plan to do the best we can. I'm very confident in Christina because she's driving fast and makes no mistakes.”
Christina Nielsen, No. 31 MOMO NGT Motorsport driver:
You have been competing in a Porsche in both the ADAC GT Masters and the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East and are new to the MOMO NGT Motorsport team and competing with them for the first time this week at Petit Le Mans. How did your connection to the team come together? “The connection was originally made through Kuba Giermaziak, who has been driving for the team several times. He was my co-driver at the last two rounds of ADAC GT Masters, which is the championship in Europe that I competed in this year. Petit Le Mans is a good next step and when interest in this race was shown by my father and me, Kuba was so kind to make the connection. Also Sean Edwards, who did a race with me this year, recommended the team. I would have to say that I really like the team. They all seem very nice and are hard working people with a good heart, so I cannot really wish for more.”
Have you ever raced at Road Atlanta before? If so, tell us about it. If not, what have you heard about it and what are you expecting? “I have never raced at Road Atlanta before and I have never raced at a track with so many blind angles. My father raced here and he among many others said it is a great track. It is tricky and takes a while to learn but it is really cool once you find a good rhythm and feel comfortable.
You grew up in motorsports with your Dad racing Porsches at Le Mans. How have you adjusted to being a female racing a predominately male sport? “You learn by time that there is only one way to gain the respect from the boys and that is by driving fast enough. At every test day or race weekend we are trying to improve and every time we move a little bit closer towards our goals. My father has always supported me and is a part of the reason why I do not see why I should not be able to do just as well as the boys. Being a female race driver is not something I think much about. Whenever the helmet is on no one can tell if it is a man or a woman. In my eyes a driver is a driver.”
The competition in the ALMS GTC class is very fierce. Is it difficult to come in as a guest driver for a race and have to quickly get acclimated to a new team? “The GTC class has some extremely good drivers and I am really looking forward to driving against them. Whenever the level of competition is high, I believe that you, as a driver, has the chance to develop more and I am sure I will learn a lot from this weekend and take it with me to the future races.”