Paul Ricard: Jos Menten Racing race report

After a marvellous fifth place in the Spa Proximus 24 Hours, PSI Experience has also put its Corvette C6-R into action in the fifth manche of the FIA GT championship. For the first time, the FIA GT circus had gone to France to race on the Paul ...

After a marvellous fifth place in the Spa Proximus 24 Hours, PSI Experience has also put its Corvette C6-R into action in the fifth manche of the FIA GT championship. For the first time, the FIA GT circus had gone to France to race on the Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track. Its was Jos Menten's debut in a FIA GT race with a three-hour format. His teammate Jean-Philippe Belloc has more experience in this kind of race. Especially for this race, the PSI Experience team management had decided to put Michelin tires on the Corvette C6-R. It turned out to be an excellent decision. Menten dominated the bigger part of the first hour. Belloc kept the lead in the second hour, but during the second pit stop the Dutch-French duo lost 25 seconds. After a thumping good race, Jos Menten finished second, only three seconds short of victory. The first FIA GT podium for the 25-year-old driver!

Despite a small diffuser problem in the first minutes of the practice session, Jos Menten clocked the fastest chrono. Quite early in the session, the Dutchman put 1:54,625 on the charts. That made Menten well over a second faster than the rest of the FIA GT field! Also in the second practice session, the driver from Haelen was in the right rhythm. The team had planned a couple of long runs and the lap times were promising. PSI Experience closed the second practice session in third position. "The car is well-tuned. The Corvette probably holds the road best in the corners. Only on the straight track we're a little short of top speed, but that isn't decisive in Paul Ricard", Menten is pleased to say.

In the qualification, again nobody really challenged Jos Menten. In the twenty-minute qualification session, the Limburger ran only one timed lap ... at once good enough for pole position! "It feels good to grab pole position in a championship with that many competitive pilots and cars. My lap was fast, but it could have been faster. I have lost some time in traffic, but today luck was on my side", a very proud Jos Menten tells. Also Jean-Philippe Belloc feels well in the Corvette C6-R. The FIA GT 2001 champion recorded the fastest time in the warm-up. Menten and Belloc look forward to the race with confidence.

At 13hrs30 the lights go green and Jos Menten leads the field. The Dutchman has a good start and keeps the lead, before the GLPK Carsport Corvette. The two American cars spurt away and in no-time they have a fiteen second jump on their pursuers. Just for a moment Menten loses first position to Hezemans, but in the eighteenth lap Menten regains the lead. The Dutchman remains the fastest man on the track and gradually extends his jump on the GLPK Carsport Corvette. The rest of the field loses an average of two seconds per lap on 'The Flying Dutchman'. After racing for 1 hour and 5 minutes, Menten dives into the pit to hand over the wheel to Belloc. At that moment, the PSI Experience Corvette C6-R has a five-second jump on the GLPK Carsport specimen.

Driving out of the pit lane, Jean-Philippe Belloc was half a second behind Bert Longin. The Frenchman keeps his cool and only needs a couple of laps to overtake Longin. Belloc consistently extends his jump and comes in for a pit stop after two hours. In the pit lane, the PSI Experience pit crew is losing the battle. Jos Menten has to give up the lead to GLPK Carsport pilot Anthony Kumpen. Kumpen has a 25-second jump. but Menten doesn't throw in the towel! In his hunt for the lead position he immediately clocks the fastest lap time of the match. Kumpen's jump melts into thin air and with less than half an hour to go, Menten has to make up for fifteen seconds.

With still ten laps to go, Menten has reduced the gap to nine seconds. The young Limburger remains the fastest man on the track and fights till the end! When the flag goes down, Menten runs three seconds short on the GLPK Carsport Corvette. So, despite Menten's ultra-strong last stint, PSI Experience has to settle for second place. On the podium, GLPK Carsport and PSI Experience are accompanied by Vitaphone Racing pilots Jamie Davies and Thomas Biagi.

"Of course it's a pity to miss victory by a whisker", Menten tells after the finish. "At such a moment it's bitter to finish second, but we can't forget that we have driven a great race today. I think I speak for the whole team when I say that we are very pleased with this result. We have shown the world our worth and that we are a match for the topdogs in the FIA GT championship! Now we're going home to prepare for the fourth race of the Le Mans Series. a race I will combine with the Zolder 24 Hours. I intend to drive in Zolder on Saturday. Sunday morning I'm flying over to England to contest the fourth heat of the Le Mans Series with the Corvette C6-R", according to Menten.

During the Zolder 24 Hours, Menten will spur a PSI Experience Porsche 996 GT3 RSR: "It's generally known that Porsche is one of the most reliable cars. I think we can aspire to the podium when we stay out of trouble. But it's not going to be easy. Every Zolder 24 Hours is extremely exhausting for man and machine. The track doesn't have any long straight parts where the pilots can rest a little. You are constantly busy in the car and that takes a lot of effort of course. There's a heavy week in store."

-credit: www.josmentenracing.nl

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Jamie Davies , Jean-Philippe Belloc , Anthony Kumpen , Thomas Biagi , Bert Longin , Jos Menten