Sebring: Team Modena qualifying report

Team Modena Third on GT1 Grid at Sebring Team looking strong for Florida endurance classic Team Modena completed its preparations for the Mobil 1 Sebring 12-hours having set third fastest time in qualifying for the GT1 category in...

Team Modena Third on GT1 Grid at Sebring
Team looking strong for Florida endurance classic

Team Modena completed its preparations for the Mobil 1 Sebring 12-hours having set third fastest time in qualifying for the GT1 category in the prestigious endurance race - opening round of the 2007 American Le Mans Series Championship. All three drivers, Antonio Garcia, Liz Halliday and Darren Turner have completed their required number of laps in the team's Aston Martin DBR9 to take part in Saturday's race, with the car having qualified third in class and 15th overall in the 34-car field.

Garcia's best lap time in qualifying, of 1m58.241s, was a shade over a second slower than the class pole-sitting factory Chevrolet Corvette driven by ex-Formula One racer Jan Magnussen. "This is my first time in the car since Jarama in September last year," said Spaniard Garcia. "The car has been fine from the start, but the main focus has been to give Liz miles in the car. She was due to test in England before we came here, but that was cancelled due to snow."

Garcia, who raced in the Le Mans Series in Europe last year and who was in contention for the GT1 title until the final round, is enjoying the new regulations that allow for larger air restrictors for the Aston Martin. "That is worth around a second to 1.5s a lap around here," said the Spaniard, though he was not expecting to race the Corvettes on outright pace. "We must take this as a test session, and prepare for a good racing season."

Turner, Aston Martin's factory driver and a previous Sebring GT1 category winner at Sebring, flew out late to Florida as he was taking part in a test in England on Tuesday and consequently has completed only a few laps. "I have done around eight timed laps, plus some in and out laps," said the British driver. "I have been running on tyres that are at least a stint old, so I don't have an accurate comparison to last year's car, but I do know that the balance of the car is excellent."

The team had to repair the fans that cooled the rear brakes on the Aston Martin after one disintegrated during practice. The car works with fans rather than air ducts and, when these fail, the tyre temperatures and pressures increase dramatically. "The problem is fixed now," said Turner, "so we are ready for the race."

Team co-owner Rik Bryan was equally confident: "The team are really working together well and we'll be able to take the fight to the Corvettes."

The team missed the final practice session on Friday to change the engine and gearbox for the race.

-credit: tm

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Series ALMS
Drivers Antonio Garcia , Jan Magnussen , Darren Turner , Liz Halliday