Podium Finish For Modena Sees Garcia take Second
Team Modena finished its maiden Le Mans Series season with a third place in the LMGT1 class at Jarama, Spain, this weekend - the result seeing Antonio Garcia take second place in the drivers' championship for the competitive class having shared the car with Peter Hardman and David Brabham. The team showed their pace and professionalism to bring their Aston Martin DBR9 through the field to finish eighth overall after starting at the very back of the grid, a strong end to the season following their victory in the previous round in August.
The team qualified second in the LMGT1 class, Antonio just two-tenths of a second off class pole in a very tight 20-minute session. In post-qualifying scrutineering an anomaly with the end-plates on the Aston Martin's rear wing saw the stewards of the meeting decree that the car should start from the back of the grid - making the race even more of a challenge as Antonio battled for the class drivers' title.
"We made a small and silly mistake with the technical regulations," explained team co-owner Rik Bryan on Saturday night. "The regulations are there for a reason and it is only fair that we have been penalised. We can only apologise to our drivers, Antonio, Peter and David, but with their combined talents we are still confident of a good result."
Antonio drove the first stint of the 1000km, or six hour, race - his home round of the LMS - and in the early laps worked his way through slower cars to latch onto his class rivals.
"There was lots of traffic early in the race," said Antonio. "I had to push hard which hurt the tyres later, but I was able to make up places."
Peter took over from Antonio after 46-laps, and survived a scare after being hit by another car. A Safety Car period eight laps into Peter's stint hurt the team, the Safety Car emerging ahead of the Aston Martin allowing some of their closest rivals to benefit as they latched onto the back of the queue having gained most of a lap.
After a strong and consistent stint Peter handed over to David on lap 97, the experienced Australian staying out until lap 145, like Peter surviving a scare when hit by another car.
"I had been trying to be as consistent as possible to look after the tyres, " said David, "then was hit by a Porsche when trying to go past. We've caught up but really started too far back."
Antonio drove the final two stints on a track he knows well, living just minutes from the circuit, battling hard with class rivals including twice in succession going through the first corner side by side fighting for third in class with a Corvette. Antonio took the Aston Martin into the top ten overall during this stint.
Another Safety Car period with less than an hour to go saw Antonio pit for tyres and fuel, emerging just behind the car third in class and quickly taking that position and pulling clear. Even a light burst of rain with 20-minutes to go didn't see the Team Modena Aston Martin threatened, and Antonio brought the car over the line to the cheers of the team on the pitwall third in class and eighth overall. The result saw Antonio finish second in the LMGT1 drivers' points table.
"The whole of the team did a really good job," said Antonio. "It was hard starting from the back after the steward's decision, but we drove the first three stints very well. The two Safety Car periods cost us time to the other cars, we had been aiming to stay out longer and make one stop less than them during the race, but all that did was allow us to get back to where we would have been if we hadn't had the Safety Cars.
"I'm satisfied with how we drove the race, but disappointed to finish second in the championship."
"That was a tough race," said David, "starting from the back is never easy and even though we got on the podium, we finished a bit short in getting Antonio to the title. I'm pleased for the team that we made a strong showing in the final round - though it is obvious that the non-finish at the Nurburgring really hurt in the end."
"If you look at where we started from then third is a good finish," said Peter. "It is another podium after our win at Donington, but I'm disappointed that Antonio didn't win the title."
"We're very pleased to be on the podium considering where we started on the grid," said Team Modena CEO Graham Schultz. "All three drivers really did a good job, and the team were superb with a really positive attitude all the way through."
-credit: team modena