Practice makes perfect After two hours of practice today the Care Racing-supported Prodrive Ferrari team has had a mixed day. Whilst his car topped the GTS class timesheets this afternoon, with a time of 1m 19.607 set by Peter Kox, Alain Menu...
Practice makes perfect
After two hours of practice today the Care Racing-supported Prodrive Ferrari team has had a mixed day. Whilst his car topped the GTS class timesheets this afternoon, with a time of 1m 19.607 set by Peter Kox, Alain Menu in car #88 was not happy with the balance and set up of the car and he will be spending much of the time available before tonight's session with his engineer and fellow team-mates Tomas Enge and Peter Kox to work on ways in which to improve the handling of the Ferrari 550.
The car #80 crew of Jan Magnussen, David Brabham and Anthony Davidson are also set to spend some hours with engineers and the data accumulated to date in order to make improvements. Magnussen, who had the majority of seat time this afternoon, was uncertain as to the reason for his dissatisfaction with the Ferrari's performance - as compared to yesterday - but is certain that times will be lowered as the weekend continues.
Frederic Dor, making his debut at Road Atlanta, has also had much of the seat time in car #08 so he can familiarise himself thoroughly with the track. Jerôme Policand has the benefit of two previous visits to Road Atlanta, as has the ever-youthful Jan Lammers - although he was last here some four years ago for the 1999 Petit Le Mans.
Tomas Enge - fresh from his first rally victory in the Czech Republic last weekend - had a heart-stopping moment in this morning's first practice session when his car suffered a puncture which resulted in the car crashing heavily into the tyre barrier at turn 12.
After being checked out in the medical centre, he said, "I felt the car behaving strangely as I came over the crest of the hill towards Turn 12, and then realised it was a left front puncture. I tried to slow the car down as much as possible but it is difficult with only three wheels. The car is okay and repairable, and the boys worked flat out to get it out again."
The damage was primarily to the front of the car, with the chassis being unaffected, and the team did a magnificent job repairing it in double quick time to get it out on the track for the second practice session of the day.
It was the team's second serious accident of the week as car #80 had also been the subject of a heavy crash during Saturday's damp testing session.
Team Principal George Howard-Chappell said, "It's been a marathon and not the ideal way to go into an endurance race like this, but the boys love a challenge. I'm proud of the way they've risen to that challenge. We came here quite well stocked with spare parts and bodywork, but the stock is looking a bit thin now. We haven't quite got to the re-cycling stage but we will if necessary!"
Although new to the Care Racing and Prodrive Ferrari stable of drivers, Jan Lammers of the Netherlands has links with many of the team.
In 1989, when Lammers was running his own Vitaal Racing team, a certain young Peter Kox was one of a number of subsequently well-known names who were given an opportunity to further their careers in single-seater racing. Peter repaid the faith shown in him by Jan by winning that year's European Formula Opel-Lotus Championship.
When the diminutive Dutchman moved to Lotus to campaign their sportscar in 1996/7, his race engineer was George Howard-Chappell, now Team Principal of Prodrive Ferrari. Several ex-Lotus team members are also within the current team, including chief mechanic Jon Woodward who has the unenviable and challenging task this week of leading a team of over 30 mechanics/technicians to cover the three Ferrari 550 Maranellos.