Encouraged by the good results in the past couple of months, Jos Menten went to the United Arab Emirates for the closing of the FIA GT Championship season. Especially for his Middle Eastern adventure, Menten switched to the Zakspeed Racing Team,...
Encouraged by the good results in the past couple of months, Jos Menten went to the United Arab Emirates for the closing of the FIA GT Championship season. Especially for his Middle Eastern adventure, Menten switched to the Zakspeed Racing Team, which runs a new generation Saleen S7-R. With a position on the fourth starting row, anything was still possible, but after a collision with an Aston Martin DBR-9 in the opening phase of the race, a top classification wasn't very likely anymore.
While the team is looking for the perfect set-up in the first free practice, Sascha Bert clocks the third-fastest time. In the second free practice things run less smoothly. The car is constantly troubled by understeering. The Zakspeed trio has to content themselves with the fifth chrono. Also the qualification isn't going as planned. Montermini doesn't get any further then ninth time and the white-and-blue Saleen has to start the race on the fifth row. The reason for the Saleen's substantial loss of time is discovered during an evening check-up. The differential has been damaged and has to be repaired.
"This isn't the perfect point of departure to start the race, but a good classification is still possible. In a three-hour race a lot can happen", says Jos Menten after the twenty-minute qualification session. On Sunday morning, Menten and company move up to the fourth starting row, after Larbre Competition's 'Low Cost' Ferrari 550 Maranello has been relegated to the ninth place. but soon after there's bad news for Zakspeed Racing: before the start of the warm-up, the FIA GT Championship organisation decides that the Saleen has to drag along 30 kilograms of extra penalty weight during the race, because of Menten's second place in Paul Ricard. The trio start the race with a total amount of 75 kilograms of lead on board.
At 14h30 local time the starting shot is given for the last FIA GT race of the season. The start isn't entirely without problems. Sascha Bert is clipped at the back by Philipp Peter (Race Alliance - Aston Martin DBR9 #33). As a result, a burst tire causes a lot of damage to the back of the car. The Saleen S7-R is being pushed into the pitbox and the mechanics set to work at full tilt to get the car ready to race again. The mechanics manage to repair the car provisionally, but the speed is clearly gone. The team sends the car back out, since the German was still in the running for the second place in the Drivers Championship.
With still 1 hour and 20 minutes to go, Jos Menten takes the wheel of the Saleen with starting number 9. Immediately, the driver from Haelen demonstrates his speed. Menten measures up to the top three times, but it isn't feasible to compete for a podium place anymore. In his stint, Menten does manage to record the fastest time of the three Zakspeed pilots. Twenty minutes before the end of the race, Montermini takes over the wheel. The Italian drives a steady stint and finishes the car at 22nd place overall - 8th GT1.
"That's racing", says a disappointed Jos Menten. "We were full of ambition when we set out for Dubai, but after the first lap, we could definitely put away our hope of a good classification. The start from the fourth row still held some prospects, but this morning we also got 30 kilograms of extra penalty weight. We knew that it was going to be a tough race, but a podium place was still possible. Despite the loss of time we kept on driving to help Sascha get the title of vice-champion eventually. Unfortunately, it didn't work. Sometimes luck just isn't on your side. I didn't got the chance to drive the Saleen a lot this weekend, but I was still able to adapt quickly. It's a nice car to race with and I have recorded competitive lap times during the race", Menten concludes.
-credit: Jos Menten Racing