SECOND FERRARI CONTRACT FOR TIM SUGDEN FOR WORLD SERIES
Although the shortened Istanbul 1000km race last month did not result in a win for Tim Sugden in the Virgo Ferrari F430 GTC his impressive showing and fastest lap demonstrated clearly that the current Porsche Cup Holder is not a "one make" specialist and now a second and very significant drive has been secured in a Ferrari F430.
As late as a week ago the deal to run in the FIA GT series was in doubt but by Wednesday Tim was confirmed as lead driver in a 2 car team of F430s to be run by JMB Racing of Monaco in the 10 round championship. The deal has been completed to bring together GruppeM Racing for whom Tim raced in 2005 to second place in this series and JMB who have been front runners in GT1 and GT2 for some years. Car 55 will be entered by JMB - GruppeM racing in the full series where Tim will be aiming to go one better than in 2005.
The deal was concluded just in time for the first race in the series at Silverstone on Sunday and after running strongly first time out in the car Tim qualified on grid 4 of the 17 car field in GT2. There is quite a tyre battle in the series between Michelin, Pirelli and Dunlop and the Italian Michelotti developed Ferraris naturally run on Pirelli whereas the UK based Scuderia Ecosse F430s run on Michelin tyres as used last year by GruppeM on their Porsches.
In the race, started on a damp track it was the usual mad scramble for the first 2 laps then it settled down and Tim was 5th but gradually passed the others and ran second to Emmanuel Collard (his co-driver from 2005) in the works Porsche but was gaining as all the leading cars began to have trouble with their intermediate tyres and needed slicks. After the succession of pit stops Tim ran third, then second and then led as the Porsche team used the tyre stop for the opportunity to put the second driver (Ricatelli) in the car whilst the JMB GruppeM team left Tim in the car to run as long as possible before handing over to Iradj Alexander, his new Swiss co-driver.
All was looking well, the only cars to really challenge Tim were the two Scuderia Ecosse cars of Mullen and Kirkaldy and they had run into mechanical troubles. After building up a 20 second lead Tim then had a slide on two corners and suspected a problem so came in from a the secure lead when the team found a short water pipe ruptured and spraying water onto the rear tyre, causing the slides. This was replaced and the cooling system refilled and Alexander sent out but 11 laps had been lost. He did a full stint lapping within 2 seconds of Tim's times before handing the car back for the last 30 minutes during which Tim set the race fastest lap on 1: 52.480, faster thanthe best lap by the winning Jamie Melo - A F Corse factory Ferrari by 0.5 second and 1 second quicker than Collard in the works backed Porsche who finished second. Former Ferrari F1 Grand Prix driver Mika Salo was third, also in an AF Corse Ferarri who was 0.8 second slower than Tim on his fastest lap.
With secure drives in the new F430 Ferrari in the FIA Championship and the Le Mans Series Tim again has a heavy programme but is still seeking a drive in the prestigious 24 Hours at Le Mans in June. He has proved his versatility by establishing fastest laps in his first two races in the new Ferrari after many years of success in a Porsche RSR had led some to believe he was just a Porsche specialist.