Matech Concepts - Experience and ability leads to success
Three Matech Concepts built Ford GT3 cars competed in the 63rd running of the legendary 24 hours of Spa on July 30, 2010. All three cars were run by customer teams, two of which were entered by Marc VDS Racing and the third car by British customer RPM Motorsport.
Having proved in 2009 beyond doubt that the Matech Ford GT3 is an endurance race winning car by winning the 24 hours of Spa on its first endurance visit to Spa Francorchamps, it was an obvious decision for Matech's customers and partners to choose to enter this year's race with strong expectations.
RPM Motorsport took delivery of their Matech Ford GT3 at the beginning of 2009, contesting the British GT sprint championship, and in 2010 compete in the International GT Open championship (another sprint based series). Alex Mortimer, Team Owner had this to say about the decision to enter the Matech built car into the 24 hour race: "As team owner, choosing the right race car is a critical decision. That includes its reliability, consistency and balance, factory support as well as obviously its performance in addition to its marketability for attracting gentleman drivers. Matech have built an outstanding racing car with German efficiency and Swiss precision and something that Martin should be very proud of. From a support point of view, parts back up is excellent, and its extremely rare to find something out of stock, with parts always dispatched same day. Mechanically, its very user friendly and not at all hard to work on, so for endurance racing its perfect."
The RPM run Ford GT3 finished 6th in class at the end of a gruelling 24 hours, with the only problems being a starter motor and a wheel stud. Peter Bamford, competing as a gentleman racer took the final stint to take the chequered flag in his first ever Spa 24 race: "Firstly to beat some factory supported cars as a gentleman driver has been a truly fantastic experience. We had fantastic reliability at Spa, and the car was so confidence inspiring. It was very stable and consistent through quick corners... braking is very good and balanced across the whole stint. The only improvement I would like is a little more lighting at night - that's for my next 24 hour race!"
Matt Griffin, having not raced in the Matech Ford GT3 before, and who did several double stints in the race, on a single set of tyres said: "This was my first time driving the Ford...normally I'm in Ferraris and other GT2 cars. I was massively impressed, and can honestly say it's head and shoulders above any other GT3 car and many GT2 cars, including Ferraris and Audis. I was surprised I could go through Eau Rouge and Blanchimont without braking, and only a tiny lift on the throttle. The car really exceeded my expectations with the amount of grip and I don't think I've found its limit yet. We ran faultlessly, and it was comfortable enough for me to do 3 double stints of up to 3 hours at a time. Fuel consumption was also very good, and stronger than any other car at well over the hour mark."
With the decision not to enter their Mustang race cars into the Spa 24 hours, Marc VDS Racing decided to compete with a pair of Matech Ford GT3 cars only 3 weeks before the race. However, this was not a risky decision, as the team is already familiar with the basics of the car as they compete with its big brother in the FIA GT1 World Championship, and have already achieved huge success by winning the 1000Km of Spa earlier in the year in their GT1 car. With only a few weeks' preparation time to adapt the car for 24 hour racing, the team worked flat out, and took the decision to stick with their existing Ford GT1 driver line up and add in additional endurance specialists to ensure their team was perfect for Spa. The #99 Marc VDS Ford GT3 car, lead by ex-F1 driver Bas Leinders, finished the race 2nd in class to take a richly deserved podium. Co-driver in the race (and his Ford GT1 co-driver) Maxime Martin had this to say after the race: " I'm very happy with the result. You must remember that the decision to enter this car in the 24 Hours was taken just three weeks ago. The team has done an excellent job and the car had no problems apart from a troublesome starter. I was comfortable enough and had confidence in the car to do a double stint in the wet on slicks."
Martin Bartek, CEO of Matech Concepts, was present at the race with two of his race engineers, ready to lend support to his customers. "What a fantastic result for our customers! I'm so happy for them. Just to finish a 24 hour race is a huge achievement for a race car and a race team - I know first hand how difficult a challenge this is. It makes me immensely proud to know that the cars we build in Mayen for our customers are capable of finishing so strongly in a 24 hour race. Spa is a very challenging place for endurance racing with the constant changes in weather and temperature, so having a car that is comfortable for the drivers, economical with its fuel and kind on its tyres is just as valuable as outright performance and reliability which we know our car has in abundance. We are already dealing with the issue surrounding the starter motor component, and I will ensure this is not a cause of failure in the future."
Mr Bartek continued: "The great performances of these two outstanding teams and ambassadors for Matech Concepts demonstrates that we build race cars that are the equal of any other race car on the market, but with the added prestige of being a Ford GT. Our new Matech Ford LMGT car will continue and extend this success as we concentrate the efficiency and speed of our race winning GT1 car and the reliability and easy handling of the GT3 into the best GT endurance car possible."