Strong performance of Young Driver AMR remained unrewarded
Stefan Muecke and Jose Maria Lopez fifth in Argentina
Young Driver Aston Martin Racing had one of the quickest cars at the two final races of the GT1 World Championship at the Portrero de los Funes track in Argentina. Stefan Muecke (GER) and the former Formula 1-testdriver Jose Maria Lopez (ARE) dominated the qualifying session in their Young Driver-Aston Martin DBR9 and took the Pole-Position. But in the Qualifying Race, the penultimate race of the season, Muecke had to retire after a collision that followed a rather controversial start of the race. A strong chase in Championship Race gave Muecke and Lopez a fifth place finish. Darren Turner and Tomas Enge, who travelled as title contenders to Argentina, had bad luck in the two last races of the season. The British/Czech driver pairing in the second Young Driver-Aston Martin suffered with a high success ballast due to their success in the last races and finished in 10th and in 15th position.
The start of the Qualifying Race at the scenic track went a bit chaotic. Before the lights went green, the second placed car overtook polesetter Muecke and was even ahead of the German before the starting line. In the first corner, the leader braked very early. Muecke had nowhere to go and crashed into the back of the leader, which caused damaged to the front end of the Aston Martin and forced Muecke to retire. "From our point of view, the second placed car on the grid made a jump start", explained Young Driver team principal Hardy Fischer. "We expressed this to the race director, but he had a different point of view." Darren Turner and Tomas Enge lost their mathematical title chances in the Qualifying Race, but showed a good performance and battled from 17. place on the grid to 10th place, securing a promising starting position for the Championship Race.
In the Championship Race, Muecke and Lopez once again proved that they belonged to the quickest driver parings at the final round of the season. After the early retirement in the Qualifying Race, Lopez had to start from the back of the grid and immediately chased trough the field. Until the mandatory driver change halfway trough the race, he was already within the top-10. Muecke then contuined the strong chase in the latter part of the race and secured a top-five finish, when he overtook the fifth place car on the very last lap. "We really made the best out of our starting position", Stefan Muecke said after the race. "Without the collision in the Qualifying Race, a podium finish would have been possible today."
Darren Turner and Tomas Enge hoped for some more Championship points in the last race of the season and wanted to defend the runner up spot in the championship, but experienced a hard last race and finished 15th. "My start into the Championship Race was certainly not the best I had this season", said Darren Turner after the race. "I was o.k. at the start, but after the start, I went on the curbs in the first corner and lost a few places. Then we struggled with the high penalty weight which we had to carry around after our success in recent races. The pit stop was o.k., but in second part of the race, Tomas suffered with engine problems and wasn't able to attack. It was a rather frustrating weekend for us."
Young Driver Aston Martin Racing finished fourth in team standings in the inaugural season of the GT1 World Championship. Darren Turner and Tomas Enge finished fourth in driver's standings.
"We certainly had one of the quickest cars out there this weekend, but also had one of our toughest weekends in the Championship so far", resumed team principal Hardy Fischer. „Joy and thoroughness were never closer this season than in Argentina. But on the other hand, Aston Martin won the Manufacturers title of the Championship. We contributed a major part to this success, and that is something we can be proud of. Our congratulations go to the Vitaphone-team and it's drivers Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini, who won the title."
Young Driver Aston Martin Racing was supported at the final two rounds of the GT1 World Championship in Brazil and Argentina by Union Engineering (www.union.dk) and Zegg Watches & Jewellery (www.zegg.ch).
-source: young driver amr