Jos Menten and Markus Palttala managed to round off a difficult weekend in Silverstone with a seventh place. The Dutch-Finnish duo had to fight for three whole days with the Corvette C6.R's difficult road handling. Normally the Corvette is a paragon example when it comes to handling, but in the United Kingdom the Corvette teams can't seem to get it right. Tyre supplier Michelin proposed an exceptionally soft tyre for the opening round of the FIA GT championship but this didn't turn out right for the teams with their powerful V8 engines under the bonnet. After a handful of laps the performance curve of the tyres disappeared into the abyss, resulting in heavy understeer.
Everything appeared to be going well for Jos Menten and his Finnish team- mate during the free practice sessions on Friday. The duo registered the seventh best time with the Corvette C6.R, in the wake of the similar cars of Luc Alphand Aventures and SRT: "The DKR Engineering Corvette is used as reference in the French FFSA GT championship. During the first training session we limited ourselves to some fine tuning and Markus had sufficient time to get used to the car. We only used up one set of tyres. We need to handle our stock of tyres carefully. After a few laps the Michelins break down quickly, which does give us some worries. It could well be that the lack of test mileage has something to do with it also", was the remark emanating from the DKR Engineering pit box after the first free practice session.
The ninety minutes pre-qualifying session results in a fourth place. Has the DKR Engineering pit crew come up with the correct set-up? "The balance is better, but the tyre wear remains far too high. We clocked up our fast lap on new rubbers. Those tyres can only hold that pace for one or two laps. Seeing we are carrying more weight in the nose of the car we are ballasting the front tyres far more than those of our opponents, namely Maserati and Saleen. We have tried out various set-ups, but nothing seems to help. We're in for a heavy race", Jos Menten realised.
In qualifying Jos Menten has to content himself with a place on the fourth row of the grid: "I felt rather frustrated in the car. I was really pushing but due to a problem with the dashboard I was receiving incorrect lap times. My lap time was in fact three seconds better than what was being displayed. When you're going flat out in the attack and you see that you are three seconds slower than during the training ... you start asking yourself questions. Luckily the team were able to put my mind at ease via the car radio that we had made it to the fourth row of the grid", the 28 year old driver from Haelen declared.
The only thing that could still help the DKR-duo would be a solid downpour on Sunday. However the weather gods did not intervene in this edition of the RAC Tourist Trophy. In the warm-up Menten and Palttala tested out a new set-up, but this proved rather negative also. The blue-white Corvette C6.R remains in the middle of the GT1 pack. Between the warm-up and the race the set-up is revised once again, this time to the satisfaction of the drivers: "The car is still not perfect, but it does feel better than during the two previous days", Menten comments on the starting grid.
At 14.10hrs the lights turn to green for the start of the first FIA GT race of the season. Jos Menten immediately goes into the attack at Copse. The Dutchman overtakes the SRT Corvette C6.R on the outside, but already after two laps the tyres are giving way. "I had to let the SRT Corvette through and all I could do was to complete my stint and remain in close contact with the cars ahead of me."
Markus Palttala took over the wheel but similar to his team-mate had to undergo the law of the strongest. Even a short interruption by the Safety Car doesn't bring any solace. Some forty minutes later Menten once again takes over the Corvette C6.R. On old used tyres he manages to drag the American power beast to the finish: "Up in front a competitor got into trouble, allowing us to finally finish in seventh place. Not the result we had hoped for at the beginning of the weekend", a visibly disappointed Jos Menten sighed.