Excellent harvest for the Matech Racing Fords GT
It was finally time to get back down to business this weekend with the FIA GT3 European championship, and a double meeting held on the superb undulating track at Brno, in the Czech Republic. And for the first time this season the Swiss Matech Racing team had entered three splendid Fords GT, worthy descendants of that legendary Ford GT40. Following on from some excellent test sessions during the summer break the team were on a high, but as from the first practice sessions it looked as though the Fords were not handling ideally . "It's difficult to understand, but all three cars are suffering from under steer and over steer in a most chronic manner ", a highly disappointed Martin Bartek commented after the first practice session."During our tests at Zolder our times were very good, but once in Brno, the situation was entirely different. This has been a weight around our necks during the entire first day ."
A situation which in fact didn't stop the Fords GT Matech Racing from registering amongst the top 15 at the end of the first practice, before Maxime Dubrulle and Mickael Forsten clocked up excellent 4th and 6th times during the first qualifying session. And it was the #45, newest arrival and driven by the Finn Forsten and the Belgian Soulet who were to outshine in the race, running in 5th place at the time of the pit-stop . "Mickael isn't used to endurance races and we lost some 20 seconds when belting me up ", Maxime Soulet regretted."And time lost in this way is difficult to regain. At the wheel of such a delicate car I took the chequered flag in 8th spot, but we need to take advantage of the evening to find out what is causing the set-up problems. "Even though the #44 of Romaini Bera and Maxime Dubrulle didn't fare any better with a 9th place for the #43 of Martin Bartek and Thomas Mutsch, bad luck was at the top of the list. A badly handled pit -stop in 57" resulted in a Stop & Go, whilst a technical problem with the cooling of the box created some overheating. The sooner forgotten the better .
This Sunday, it was from the 7th (#43), 14th (#45) and 20th (#44) places on the grid that the three cars took off . With an excellent start for Thomas Mutsch (#43) who was soon up with Maxime Soulet (#45), these two cars sticking close together during the first relay and catching quite a few competitors. Unfortunately the German driver experienced a flat as the result of touching another car which was to cost him dearly, Martin Bartek having to relinquish a top place during the second part of the race. A great pity as the top 5 was definitely feasible .
In the meanwhile Maxime Soulet was putting in a great performance finishing his stint in a highly promising 7th place. The Belgian driver then handed over to his Finnish team mate Mickael Forsten, who battled his way through to finally take the flag in 6th place. An excellent result and the handling of the Ford GT Matech Racing was definitely improving as compared to the previous day. Less luck unfortunately for the #44 of Bera and Dubrulle, who were forced to retire due to a problem with the belt drive of the turbo. "A more than satisfying overall result ", Christian Schumacher, team-manager of Matech Racing commented. "The team worked until two o'clock in the morning to improve the set-up of the various cars, and the drivers were improving their times by 1"5 per lap, which all in all is pretty good. However it was difficult here for us to clinch a straight win, but Thomas and Martin deserved at least a top 5 placing. Maxime and Mickael, whom I would like to congratulate for their first steps at the wheel of the Ford GT, ensured perfect stints which is essential. We can therefore say that overall there was a good performance by the whole team ." The following FIA-GT3 championship meeting is on the weekend of 17th November in Dubai, which will also be the final round for what is expected to be exotic from all points of view.