Silverstone LMS Victory for Team Modena!
Team Modena claimed their third win of the five-race 2008 Le Mans Series championship with a hard-fought LM GT1 class victory in their home race at Silverstone. Drivers Tomas Enge and Antonio Garcia led for all bar the first seven laps of the Autosport 1000km of Silverstone race in the team's Aston Martin DBR9, staying clear of their rivals despite several Safety Car periods that each time saw them lose a lead of over a minute, the driver pairing pulling clear on each occasion to finish the season on a high.
"We are ecstatic, the team ran a professional race," said Team Modena Principal Graham Schultz, "and we took the win. It seemed every time we pulled out a lead we had a Safety Car period, but the car was running very strongly. We made a couple of unscheduled stops to change our track position and we are happy with three wins out of five races."
Team Modena Gallery from Silverstone Qualifying
Tomas placed the DBR9 second on the LM GT1 class grid, the team waiting until ten minutes were left in Saturday's 20-minute session before sending the rapid Czech racer out, and his first flying lap was enough to see the team second quickest and 30th overall, heading their championship rivals.
"We are satisfied with the performance and set-up," said Graham after qualifying, "it should be an early day for the crew. We are in a good position for the race and with second quickest by Tomas we expect to be in the lead of the race quite quickly."
With the sun now out at Silverstone for the first time in the meeting, the track was fully dry for the session and the track temperatures the highest the team had, but the technical crew adjusted the set-up accordingly giving Tomas a car he could push hard with. The rain on Friday and overnight had cleaned the track of the rubber put down in the first day's running, reducing the available grip for the drivers.
"The lap was clear," said Tomas, "it is all about having the grip and after the rain yesterday afternoon and early this morning the grip is not there and we have a very green track. The car was ok with a good balance, there was just a little bit of understeer but we know why so it is not an issue and we know what to expect in the race if it is fully dry."
Team Modena Tomas was in the car at the start and moved ahead of the class leading Lamborghini on lap seven, and eased clear of the field to be the a lap clear when he was the final LM GT1 car to pit on lap 31, handing the DBR9 over to Antonio. From then on the pair lapped rapidly and consistently, the car running faultlessly to complete 178 laps of the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in front of a large crowd and finish a lap clear of their class rivals.
"I got past the Lamborghini at Abbey," said Tomas, "I had a run on him at the first corner before the start, and again after four laps, but he closed the door each time. Once I was ahead to was a clean first stint and I was just trying to open a gap, I was just watching the mirrors and staying out the way of the quicker prototypes to avoid any possible trouble.
"It's is nice to finish the year on the top step of the podium at the team's home round, and it has been good to race with Antonio this season, we push each other to the maximum!"
"Everything went perfectly in the race," said Antonio, "my first stint was my first run in dry conditions, but the car was quick and went well, the traffic was the most difficult thing. We won the race but were not really expecting to win the championship, and we have been on the top of the podium three times this year. I am very happy for the team - and happy to have partnered Tomas this season."
Team Modena Gallery from Silverstone The result sees Team Modena win more races than any other LM GT1 class team in the 2008 LMS, but lose out on the drivers and constructors championship titles, the rival Corvette taking third and enough points to secure both titles.
"It has been another great weekend of the team," said Sporting Director Rik Bryan, "the best weather was in the race so we had to make some set-up changes, but ten we had a good race. We got past the Lamborghini in the first stint, and from then on had the right strategy and we pulled away to win in the end by a one lap margin and finished second in the championship. A great result to finish a good year for us."
"It was a very tough race," said Team Manager Hans Muelhbauer, "the Lamborghini was pushing us hard, and the win wasn't as easy as it may have seemed. We made the right decision on the Safety Car calls and on the strategy for refuelling and the tyres - it was a perfect race for us."
Our next race is the final round of the 2008 British GT championship at Donington Park, East Midlands, October 12th.