Spa: Match Competition race report

Following a damp but drying warm up session, Matech Competition took the start of round 5 of the GT1 World Championship from 6th and 20th positions on the grid at Spa. Richard Westbrook started in car 5, and lost a place at the first corner to...

Following a damp but drying warm up session, Matech Competition took the start of round 5 of the GT1 World Championship from 6th and 20th positions on the grid at Spa.

Richard Westbrook started in car 5, and lost a place at the first corner to try and avoid contact where the cars entered La Source five cars abreast. However, contact was made with the MarcVDS Ford GT no.40, but it appeared to not cause any damage. Unfortunately the Marc VDS car had to retire on lap 3. On lap 4, Richard overtook a Maserati, putting him up to 6th place. With a puncture for the race leader, Matech no.5 was promoted to 5th. Lap 13 brought a very quick pit stop, where Richard handed over to co-driver Thomas Mutsch. After all the pit stops, Matech no.5 was in the race lead and pulling away from second place.

Unluckily for Matech, a safety car came on track for 5 minutes to clear debris from an incident, which allowed the pack to close up on Thomas. The tires had degraded too much, and it was impossible for Thomas to keep the cars behind him, and lost 3 places over a couple of laps. With just two laps to go, the 2nd placed Sumo Power Nissan developed a problem and was forced to retire, meaning that Thomas and Richard were on the podium for a well deserved 3rd place.

In Matech no.6, Romain took the start from 20th position, after an accident at the end of the qualifying race put the car further down the grid than it deserved. Romain had a great start and was up to 15th by lap 4 and 13th after just 9 laps. Romain pitted on lap 12 to hand over to Neel Jani, but due to a broken seat adjuster, the stop took longer than scheduled and the car rejoined the race in 17th place. In only Neel's second time in the car and even with the seat problem, he still managed to improve his times and position, finishing in 14th position.

Thomas Mutsch is second in the drivers' championship, while Romain is now 3rd.

Matech are second in the Team Championship standings with 77 points.

Ford GT1 Matech no.5

Thomas Mutsch : " An incredible job from Richard and the team during the pitstop. I think we need to improve on keeping the tires strong for the whole stint...but 3rd place here and coming closer to Bertolini and Bartels in the leading Maserati, I'm really looking forward to our home race at Nurburgring, just 30km away from the workshop at the end of August. "

Richard Westbrook : " A great start and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the season. I had a lot of fun in my stint and had a few good battles. Unfortunately I got held up by the Lamborghini on the last few laps of my stint and perhaps it would have helped if we had pitted a little earlier and that would have given Thomas a bigger lead. Thomas did a fantastic job under very difficult circumstances...it's possible his tire pressures were a little wrong and after the safety car you could see it was really difficult for him to hold the lead. We came close to a victory, and while it's not really a track where we expect to be quickest, we are very pleased and looking forward to Nurburgring and the rest of the season. "

Ford GT1 Matech no.6

Neel Jani : " Romain started after yesterday's problem in 20th spot...but made good progress by the time he came into the pits. But when we did the driver change, the handle broke as we tried to adjust the seat position for me. My seat was even further back that Romain, so I was struggling to reach the pedals...the problem then was adjusting the belts to be secure and we ended up losing about 20 seconds in the pitstop. In my stint, I was struggling a little with reaching the pedals but kept learning about the car, kept safe and finished in 14th place. Without the pitstop problem, I think we would have been in the top 10. The car was running well today, and didn't suffer any tire problems. There's still place for improvement on my side, and learning to use the car in the right way as it's very different from a formula car. I'm sure we'll be fighting for the podium at Nurburgring."

-source: matech-competition.ch

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Neel Jani , Richard Westbrook , Thomas Mutsch
Teams Nissan Motorsport , Marc VDS Racing