LE MANS DISSAPOINTMENT FOR SUGDEN

The Le Mans 24 Hours proved to be a big disappointment for Tim Sugden, Nigel Smith and Christian Vann last weekend as the Russian Age Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello was forced into retirement after just over 8 hours of the event.

The race up to that point had gone reasonably well with the car running as high as 4th in GT1 at one point. The only interruption was a puncture after about 2.5 hours which delayed the team 10 minutes as Tim came slowly back to the pits for the tyre change. The car continued to lap quickly and Tim was able to establish the fastest lap by any of the 3 - Ferrari 550 Maranellos in the race.

The problem occurred when Christian was at the wheel in the early morning and an unknown object is thought to have struck the top of the bonnet at high speed causing the bonnet to fly off. This hit and damaged the rear wing, the radiator cowling then came off and pulled the radiators with it. Pipes between the radiators and the engine became detached, and with water pouring out the engine quickly overheated. Although Christian managed to get the car back to pits the damage was considered terminal.

Christian: "I broke it again! It was at almost exactly the same place on the Mulsanne as my puncture the other day and was almost as scary. The bonnet flew off, water dumped itself all over the place, including on the tyres, and I then had to keep it all together to bring it back to the pits. It's a real shame about what's happened. It's the 4th time I've been here and the first time I've ever retired.

"We had just got onto the lead page (of the timing screen) and were 14th overall," said team owner Rob Schirle. "On Christian's in lap the bonnet pins all broke simultaneously which set off the chain of events leading to the retirement. We could have had a top six place, which was our aim, as apart from that the car was really strong."

Tim's next race is in the FIA GT event at Oscherslaben on the 2nd July in the JMB - GruppeM Ferrari 430 and following his win at Brno in the last round of this championship on May 28th he is hoping for a repeat. He also won last year at Oscherslaben with Emmanuel Collard in the GruppeM Porsche.

-tsms-