Team Modena Thursday qualifying report

54 out of the 55 competing cars passed the scrutineering on Monday 9th and Tuesday 10th June. Only the Italian Racing Box team's Lucchini Judd-proto stayed behind at the Le Mans circuit. The Aston Martin DBR9 of Team Modena was amongst the 54 cars.

54 out of the 55 competing cars passed the scrutineering on Monday 9th and Tuesday 10th June. Only the Italian Racing Box team's Lucchini Judd-proto stayed behind at the Le Mans circuit. The Aston Martin DBR9 of Team Modena was amongst the 54 cars. At 10:50hrs precisely the team run by Rik Bryan and Graham Schulz presented themselves at the traditional 'pesage' located on the Place des Jacobins. Jos Menten, together with his team-mates Christian Fittipaldi and Terry Borcheller were also present.

"I'm glad to be back and I'm fully prepared for it. Last year I still had to adapt to the circuit, but that definitely won't be the case this year. All three of us have experience of driving the Aston Martin and we know the track. On top of that the team can work with data collated over the last three years. I honestly believe that we can assume to have the strongest team out of all the privateers. Should the works' cars drop a stitch we'll be there to take over the command", a combative Jos Menten remarked.

However it's not all plain sailing during the qualifying sessions on Wednesday. A problem with the windscreen keeps the Aston Martin DBR9 in its pit box as from 20:00hrs. All three drivers had complained about poor visibility, and the team decided to fit a new one. Not a self-evident task, and specialists are called in to assist: "It's clear, but maybe 'distorted' is the way to describe it. At first we thought that this was due to our 'tear offs', but it now appears to be the windscreen that is to blame. The team are now going to fit a new windscreen so that we can go into the attack between 22:00hrs and midnight", the driver from Haelen comments.

At 22:00hrs on Wednesday the light switches to green for the second session. As the sun sets in the background Team Modena get everything ready to ensure that all drivers complete the three compulsory night laps. But once more Lady Luck is not on the same side as Menten and co. After 30 minutes the British team are forced to break off the night training due to engine problems. Terry Borcheller has no other choice but to park the Aston Martin next to the track, with a cockpit filled with blue smoke. Fortunately the Aston Martin V10-power unit has not suffered any serious damage and the same engine can be used for Thursday's sessions. The Aston Martin DBR9 #59 finishes Wednesday's qualifying sessions in tenth place in the LMGT1-class, having clocked up a poor 3:58".

All those who reckoned that the devil wouldn't be playing any further tricks with the team from High Wycombe on Thursday were wrong. After the stints put in by Fittipaldi and Borcheller everything goes wrong around 21:00hrs: "The right rear wheel bolt loosened, and I lost my wheel. End of the third session, with hardly any kilometres completed. Hopefully we can make up our arrears during the last two hours. We still need to complete our night laps, so we must make sensible use of these two hours", Menten continues.

Matters improve during the final two qualifying hours. All three drivers complete their compulsory laps, after which Menten and Fittipaldi raise the pace. Wednesday's 3:58" is reduced to a 3:53", resulting in an eighth spot in LMGT1: "We could have gone faster, but that would have meant fitting soft tyres. All in all we're satisfied with the improvement made. On the set-up front everything is perfect. The fine tuning is obviously of major importance in such a wear and tear race as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Let's hope that we have had our share of bad luck and that we'll have a trouble- free race."

-credit: jm

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Christian Fittipaldi , Terry Borcheller , Jos Menten