After three hours of on-track action under the warm Portuguese sunshine, TMC's Jamie Davies and Darren Turner in their 'Scarlet and Cambridge Blue' Ferrari 360 N/GT race car (number 88) came home in second position. After qualifying well yesterday in second (car 88) and fourth (car 89) places in class, the pressure was building on the team to achieve a finish with both cars in the points in order to strengthen their Championship hopes. Determined to achieve success and, like the rest of the field, thwarted by a lack of on-track timing due to technical difficulties at the circuit during the first half of the race, the TMC crew worked relentlessly throughout the three hour endurance event to support the driver pairings of Davies/Turner (car 88) and Burt/Mullen (car 89).
Whilst car 88 ran without serious incident (a sticking wheel nut during its pit stop being the worst concern), car 89's pairing of Kelvin Burt and Tim Mullen were less fortunate. Running in the lead before the mid-way point, the car was forced into an unscheduled pit stop when Kelvin Burt reported a suspected right rear puncture. On entering the pits, the opportunity was taken to change all four tyres and no evidence of a puncture was found. Unfortunately, Burt was forced to retire out on the circuit several laps later with suspected rear suspension failure. However, an investigation is now underway to determine the exact cause of the problem.
The team travels to Monza in two weeks time with Jamie Davies still lying second behind the leading pair in the Drivers' Championship with a deficit of 9.5 points. TMC remain strong in second place in the Teams' Classification with 70 points, 14 points behind the leaders.
Kelvin Burt: "I'm disappointed, as you would expect. The car felt good during the first half of my stint and I'm sad the race ended for me prematurely. The car developed a handling problem at the rear that felt like a puncture. Unfortunately, it was something more serious and I was forced to stop out on track. In all other respects, the car was running really well and so I'm confident of better things in Monza."
Jamie Davies: "I had a frustrating drive despite getting a second place here. We had a problem with the left rear wheel during the pit stop which lost us maybe 10 to 15 seconds. I then had to defend my position out on track whilst thinking of the Championship and trying to save fuel. My car then developed a clutch problem which meant that I had to brake earlier for fear of locking up the rear. Still, we managed to get to the podium again and my Championship hopes are still very much alive."
Tim Mullen: "I'm disappointed for Kelvin and I. We were out in front at one stage and without the problem at the rear of the car, we could have won the race, I'm sure. Still, it bodes well for Monza and I want to do everything I can to help the team win the Championship now."
Darren Turner: "I got into a reasonable rhythm during my stint at the beginning of the race and I was conscious of the need to conserve fuel as much as possible. I had a small problem with the rear brake set-up which we managed to sort out and apart from that, the car ran very well indeed. We will do our absolute utmost in Monza as a win has eluded us for far too long."
Rod Benoist, TMC's Team Manager, added, "Another weekend full of highs and lows. We had good grid positions, ran consistently during the first half of the race, got our fuel and driver change strategy spot on and achieved a fine second place with Jamie and Darren. On the other hand, we have missed valuable points towards the Teams' Classification with the retirement of Kelvin and Tim's car. The team is investigating now but all I can say is that we suspect a problem with the right rear suspension. We will now travel to Michelotto in Italy to prepare the cars for Monza and we'll be on top form again by the time we arrive at the circuit in less than two weeks time."