Determined DBR9s Complete Spa Endurance Test Both of Aston Martin Racing's DBR9s ended a brave display in the 2005 Proximus 24 Hours of Spa today to finish sixth and seventh after an epic encounter at the famous Francorchamps ...
Determined DBR9s Complete Spa Endurance Test
Both of Aston Martin Racing's DBR9s ended a brave display in the 2005 Proximus 24 Hours of Spa today to finish sixth and seventh after an epic encounter at the famous Francorchamps circuit.
Lengthy stops required to remedy a pedal box issue replicated on both cars effectively ended Aston Martin Racing's hopes of a fourth consecutive podium finish, but a brave final four hours saw both cars finishing strongly, but unable to recover the considerable time deficit to reach the podium positions.
Aston Martin Racing Team Principal, George Howard-Chappell said: "We're experiencing the sort of problems now that we would have expected much earlier in the programme.
"After coming so close at Le Mans, the team deserved to win here at Spa and everyone is very disappointed not to have got a better result after challenging for the lead for so many laps, but that is 24-hour racing."
The race had started promisingly for the British team when the excellent performance of the wet Michelin tyres helped the team establish an Aston Martin one-two at the start of the field, reminiscent of scenes in the FIA GT outing at Silverstone in March. Peter Kox (car 29) and then David Brabham (car 28) each enjoyed spells at the head of the field as both drivers made short work of bettering their starting positions of third and seventh. However, Spa's unpredictable weather contrived to work against them only a short time later, as the team were forced to pit twice in quick succession owing to the changing conditions.
With the first quarter of the race complete, an absorbing encounter was unfolding at the front of the field with the brace of DBR9s in hot pursuit of the two leading Maserati's. With both Aston Martin Racing entries settling into a rhythm, they seemed set to spend the midnight hours pegging the lead cars back. Car 28 took second place and the team of David Brabham, Stephane Sarrazin and Darren Turner set about closing on the lead car. The progress of DBR9 number 29 was temporarily hampered by a pedal box problem - an issue that would haunt the team again later in the race - and whilst the car lost some 19 laps, Marc Goossens, Peter Kox and Pedro Lamy quickly set about moving back up the order.
As the race reached the halfway point, misfortune this time struck the number 28 car when a collision with another competitor necessitated a pit stop to repair rear suspension damage - costing the team another 30 minutes in the process. Stephane Sarrazin summed up the team's frustration: "The DBR9 was really quick until the problem with the pedal box. I was trying to drive as fast as possible, but safely. I'm very confident in the car and I was catching the leaders."
By dawn, the number 28 car had moved back up the order into third, with car 29 making progress in ninth. However, luck deserted the team once more as the same pedal box problem that had thwarted car 29 earlier in the race now hindered car 28 and hopes of a podium finish began to diminish.
A brave showing in the final three hours saw the two DBR9s setting the pace, consistently lapping almost two second quicker than any other competitor. Darren Turner, who put in a stirring performance in the late stages said: "We can be pleased with the pace of the car during the night when we started to use the softer tyre. This was the first time since we have been at Spa that the car felt like the front and the rear were really working together.
"The team did a fantastic job - not just in the pit lane, but when we ran into problems during the night."
David Brabham was equally philosophical: "Although we are disappointed not to have won or be on the podium, we need to remind ourselves that this is only year one.
"We showed our competitiveness here, particularly in the wet and at night, but this is an ongoing process to really establish ourselves for next year."
Marc Goossens reflected on his first Aston Martin Racing experience positively: "I have really enjoyed the experience of working with the team - I have learnt a lot from the de-briefs and our race strategy meetings - they are a really professional group. The result may be a little disappointing, but that is racing."
Speaking on behalf of Aston Martin Racing, David Richards said: "It is only the second 24 hour race for the DBR9 and many further lessons have been learnt. It is obviously disappointing to experience brake problems after all the testing we have done, but it is all to easy to forget how young the programme is and the fact that this year was always intended to be for development.
"We should take great heart from the pace of the cars which has been exceptional and now concentrate on delivering all of the customer cars."