The three Fords GT Matech Racing in the top 10 !
For the final round of the FIA GT3 European championship, the SRO team had chosen the circuit of Dubai as its venue ,in fact in the middle of the desert and as such with temperatures incomparable with the European seasonal averages. A final round which started off badly for the Matech Racing team, seeing their three Ford GT cars did not get on to the track for Thursday's free practice sessions. "The FIA had warned us in Brno, that the seats fitted to our cars did not conform to the norms ", Martin Bartek, head of the Swiss team, commented." As such we were requested to have our cars fitted with the homologated bucket seats for the final in Dubai The team did their best, however between the cars returning from Brno at the end of September and being loaded into containers to head off for Dubai on 15th October, we were limited in time. We tried to do what we could by putting the seats through a crash test with an FIA approved German body. This body had to detail the data registered and transmit same to the International Federation, but here again time was lacking. As such we left for Dubai with merely the results of the crash-test, and we were only given the green light by the sporting commission some. 15 minutes before the start of the first qualifying session. ."
In these extreme conditions, with a complete lack of driving time on an unknown and highly technical circuit, all the Matech Racing drivers could do was to take the bull by the horns and race against the clock. Unfortunately the #44 of Romain Bera and Maxime Dubrulle experienced problems with the turbo drive belt, stopping it from putting up a proper fight. Added to that a timing problem which retained the three Fords GT in the pitlane prior to moving on to the starting grid (as also quite a few other competitors), and the outcome is a rather complicated first heat on the Saturday, notwithstanding Stefan Van Campenhoudt and Kenneth Heyer finishing in 13th place, whilst Bera and Dubrulle, who had brilliantly moved up through the rankings, once again experiencing turbo drive belt problems, depriving them of some 150 bhp. Even worse luck for the #43 of Thomas Mutsch and Mikael Forsten, who experienced a broken exhaust manifold; .
For the Saturday session optimism was not necessarily on the books in the Matech clan. As at Monza the Ford GT turbocharged engine was rather thirsty, to such a point that it was almost impossible to hope reaching the end of the race . unless fate should help out, which it did by sending out the Safety Car. This allowed the Matech Racing drivers to grasp the opportunity. Outcome: Mutsch and Forsten (#43) moved in to the top 5, Bera and Dubrulle (#44) were spared the drive belt problem this time around and clinched 8th place, whilst Van Campenhoudt and Heyer (#45) completed the top 10. "I can but congratulate the whole team, and especially the drivers, for all the hard work put in during this weekend which started off in a particularly difficult way ", Martin Bartek continued."This Saturday the Matech team was the only one to boast three cars in the final top 10, something extremely exceptional. A real feat taking into consideration the number of kilometres covered during the weekend, the engine problems of the #44 not forgetting the fuel consumption which has played some nasty tricks on us this season. This splendid final result will motivate us to make an early start in preparing the cars for 2008. You can be assured that we will put this truce to good use, and we'll meet up in 2008 for another international sporting season ."