Fourth for Team Modena at Dramatic Thruxton

View image gallery - courtesy of Jakob Ebrey...

Piers Johnson and Adam Jones brought their Team Modena Lamborghini Gallardo home fourth in Saturday's Avon Tyres British GT Championship race at Thruxton - a superb result from 15th on the grid. A Safety Car period just as the pit window opened saw almost the entire field pit at the same time, and smart pit work by the team saw Piers and Adam leapfrog much of the field to just miss out on a podium position. Engine issues, which effected all the Lamborghinis at the meeting not just the Team Modena cars, saw the team miss Sunday's race.

In Team Modena's number 11 car Guy Harrington made a strong start to the late afternoon race on Saturday, gaining two places on the opening lap, only for an engine problem to sideline him on lap three. Piers was the first driver in the other car, and gained places from a disappointing grid position.

A Safety Car period to collect a car stopped on the circuit continued until the pit window opened, and the all the cars bar one pitted at the first opportunity. Piers found the Team Modena pit blocked by two other rivals, and was forced to stop in the outside of the pit lane. The Gallardo was clipped by another car in the chaos, but was one of the first cars to emerge and when racing resumed was in a leading position.

"It was fortunate that we were a bit further back as the pit-lane opened," said Piers, "The pitlane was so busy all we could do was park the car on the outside and block everyone off. There were three cars where we were meant to be so there was nowhere else we could stop.

"It all seemed to work in our favour, one car hit our wing endplate, but other cars were running into each other and we got off lightly. You don't envisage having all the cars in the pit lane at one time - but tactically stopping then was the thing to do."

Immediately in the thick of the action when rang resumed, Adam was able to lap quickly and stayed battling with the front runners, holding off a rapid Aston Martin to come home fourth at the end of the one-hour race.

"We've been blocked in the pits before," said Adam, "but it was absolute chaos today - if one person does not park where they should do, the car behind is then out of position, and we were left with nowhere to stop. It could have been a disaster, but for once it worked out in our favour, it was a good call by the team.

"I lost a place to a Viper early on, but they are very quick and this is the fastest circuit in the country. We had a good battle with the Aston Martin, he was good in the high-speed corners, but we were better on the brakes, it was an enjoyable battle."

Team Modena did not take part in Sunday's British GT race after both cars were sidelined with engine problems following Saturday's event. The engine issue was not unique to Team Modena, the only other team in the series running Lamborghini Gallardos also missed the race after suffering the same problems.

Guy had retired his car early in Saturday's race, before co-driver Ben de Zille Butler had the chance to race the car, while Piers and Adam finished fourth, only for the problem to emerge almost as Adam took the chequer flag at the end of the lap. It soon became evident that the cars were beyond repair for Sunday's event, making it a frustrating weekend for all concerned with team.

"We've spoken to the other team who are running a Gallardo GT3 racecar," said Team Principal Graham Schultz, "and they have exactly the same problem. They have put an endoscope down the bore to have a look and they are seeing the same as us, it seems we all have the same problem, and we need to talk to our suppliers.

"This is an unusual circuit where you are at speed with a side-load on the car for much of the lap, and that seems to have shown up a weakness in the GT3 racecar engine when racing under these conditions."

Next British GT Races: Brands Hatch, Kent, July 12th and 13th.