MENZO 24 HOURS OF ZOLDER This last weekend Jos Menten competed in the 30th edition of the Menzo 24 Hours of Zolder. In a gruelling race Menten, together with his team mates Markus Palttala, Armand Fumal and Michel Pulinx finished in a...
MENZO 24 HOURS OF ZOLDER
This last weekend Jos Menten competed in the 30th edition of the Menzo 24 Hours of Zolder. In a gruelling race Menten, together with his team mates Markus Palttala, Armand Fumal and Michel Pulinx finished in a well deserved third place. Notwithstanding a problem with a broken drive shaft and two sheared off wheels on the Porsche 996 GT3 RS the quartet can travel home satisfied, with two trophies, champagne and flowers.
During the free practice sessions Jos Menten is called in as last-minute driver to reinforce the Belgo-Finnish trio Fumal-Pulinx-Palttala. MPM Racing by Verbist specially prepared a Porsche 996 GT3 for these 24 Hours of Zolder, with as objective a top-five place at the finish of this heavy race. Following on from the free practice and qualifying sessions Jos Menten shows himself to be exceptionally satisfied with the handling of the Porsche: "The car really feels perfect. Never before have I experienced such a carefree build up to a 24 hours race. We mustn't overtax the material and hold to a steady rhythm. Together with Markus Palttala and our two Belgian friends a good result should be feasible."
During the warm-up Armand Fumal completes a few set-up laps: "Armand has run in a few new parts. We're fully prepared for the race. Markus will take the start, and I will then take over for the second stint. After that it will be the turn of Armand and Michel. Fourteenth place is a good position to start from and once the race is under way we'll carve ourselves through towards the front."
On Saturday afternoon on the dot of 16.00hrs Markus Palttala takes off like a bullet. In a mere two laps the Porsche 996 GT3 RS comes through in seventh place, followed a few minutes later up in fourth. When the pitstop game starts the Finn even manages to climb up into second spot. After one and a half hours Jos Menten takes over the wheel. The Dutchman drives a sensible stint and after 3 hours into the race comes in as the leader of the pack: "I definitely did not drive on the limit. I really suffered during that last quarter of an hour. Under a heavy sun I had to drive for an hour and a half without a single drop to drink. Apparently there was a problem with my drink bottle ."
During the whole race the MPM Racing by Verbist Porsche battled it out up front . up until fate struck a blow for the first time around 06.00hrs. Armand Fumal is towed in with a broken left rear wheel: "This is motorsport. There is nothing you can do about it. We lost almost ten laps and it looks as though we won't be able to make up the lost ground. The race leaders are sticking to a high pace, but in my opinion these GT3s won't be able to hold this out through to the end of the race", Jos Menten tells us as dawn breaks.
And Jos Menten is right. In the morning various GT3 cars are struck down with problems. Together with his Finnish team mate Markus Palttala the 27 year old driver from Haelen brings the Division 3-team back into the fray. But MPM Racing by Verbist also experience bad luck. 19 hours into the race Fumal suddenly charges into the pits with a broken drive shaft. The outcome is that Menten and co lose thirteen laps: "This made us fall back into seventh place, but retiring is not in our dictionary. In the five remaining hours we were able to make up four places, good for a third place overall and second in Division 3. All in all I'm satisfied with this race, but far more could have come out of it. When you see that the winning Porsche covered 800 laps and we crossed the line with a backlog of 19 laps..you can conclude that without the various problems we could have fought for outright victory. A broken wheel some 2 hours from the finish couldn't keep us from the podium either! Markus drove a brilliant final stint. My hat off to him! All that remains for me to say is a big thank you to the pit crew and my team mates for the excellent performance achieved."