Team Modena race report

Team Modena Win Le Mans Technical Award As the 2007 Le Mans 24-Hour race drew to a close, the Auto Club de L'Ouest, organisers of the world-famous event awarded Team Modena the Prix Escra for the best technical performance of any team at this ...

Team Modena Win Le Mans Technical Award

As the 2007 Le Mans 24-Hour race drew to a close, the Auto Club de L'Ouest, organisers of the world-famous event awarded Team Modena the Prix Escra for the best technical performance of any team at this year's race. The team overcame a variety of issues from a damper failure to heavy damage to their Aston Martin DBR9 to keep running and complete the prestigious race and finish 17th overall.

Awarded annually, the prize covers a variety of categories from how the team presented the car at the start of the week through to how they reacted to incidents as the race unfolded. In a ceremony in the pit garage before the end of the race four large trophies were presented to Team Modena members by the ACO, partly in recognition of the way the team had overcome damage to the car after a late night incident to continue in the race.

The car returned to the track after a heavy rear-end impact when Antonio Garcia was forced to spin to avoid another car around one in the morning, and the team finished 17th overall in the race and tenth in the LM GT1 class with their Aston Martin. The prize has been won in the past by teams from such famous marques as Jaguar, Porsche and Mazda.

"All in all the team did well, not many teams would have recovered from an incident like Antonio's," said Team Principal Graham Schultz, who spent the entire race on the pit wall as part of the strategy team. "The car had a lot of rear-end damage and it was a very technical repair, and the car was gain running quickly afterwards. The guys were calm and calculated as they worked on the car - and that was what helped win us the award.

"After we had that incident it was a challenge just to finish, but as a team we are good at bringing a car to the finish. The guys did a great job and I feel disappointed - but proud of what we have achieved. We aim to be back next year."

"Our car has come through another 24-Hour race and survived!" said Sporting Director Rik Bryan. "I'm disappointed, we had the car to be competitive and even get on the podium, but we haven't had the luck this time. I'm delighted for Aston Martin and Aston Martin Racing that they have won at last, both David Brabham and Darren Turner have driven for us a number of times and have come close before."

The race ended with the cars circulating behind the Safety Car once more as heavy rain returned, with Christian Fittipaldi driving the final stints to bring the car home having completed 318 laps of the 8.4-mile circuit. Heavy showers of rain had punctuated most of the daylight running in the race, the team reacting to changing conditions to time their pit stops to gain time where necessary and change tyres as needed.

"I must have done four stints in all behind the Safety Car," said Christian, "but at the end I couldn't believe the amount of water on the track. I have never driven a race car before with that much water running over the circuit and it was the right decision to have us behind the Safety Car, there would have been lots of accidents otherwise.

"The race was good we just had some problems and it wasn't there for us this time, but that is what happens in motorsport. It was a strong effort from the team and the car will be ready to go in two weeks."

Antonio Garcia and Jos Menten watched the final laps from the pit garage having completed their driving duties.

"I am disappointed," said Antonio, "I think we had the speed to be good but with the reliability of these cars you have to have a perfect run through the race, one problem and things go against you. It has been a good experience for everybody and we will learn from this race and come back stronger."

"I'm pleased to finish my first Le Mans," said Jos, "and the main objective in a race like this is to finish. We are in the top ten for the class and top twenty overall, and it was just a serious of small things that hurt our chances. It was not our year this year - but maybe next time.

"I have enjoyed my first race with the team, everyone has been so helpful and it feels like a really professional team - but also like a family team. That is important in this sport, you arrive as a team and you leave as a team."

The Aston Martin had run with the class leaders for the first part of the race, before a failure of a damper on the front suspension saw the team lose ground with a ten-minute pit stop. The night saw not only the damage to the car but also two punctures that further delayed the team's recovery charge. The issues in the race were in stark contrast to he team's build up to the race which had gone smoothly

"Our week started well and everything in testing and qualifying went well," explained Chief Engineer Hans Muhlbauer. "The race itself showed the car was good, but then things happened - we don't know why the damper broke it was a brand-new component. The car as good all the way through and the crew made no mistakes, things like Antonio's incident were out of our hands. We have shown our potential and everyone involved - drivers, the crew and the management have been professional and perfect this week, they are my dream team."

-credit: tm

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