Spa: Matech Competition qualifying race report

Coming back to Spa Francorchamps, with good memories for Matech Competition with the 2nd and 3rd positions in the 1000 km of Spa in May, the challenge is important for the all team. Currently 2nd of the drivers' standings of the FIA GT1 World ...

Coming back to Spa Francorchamps, with good memories for Matech Competition with the 2nd and 3rd positions in the 1000 km of Spa in May, the challenge is important for the all team.

Currently 2nd of the drivers' standings of the FIA GT1 World Championship, Thomas Mutsch and Romain Grosjean are joined by Richard Westbrook on Matech Ford GT1 no.5 and Neel Jani on car no.6. It's a new car for Richard and Neel, but also a new category for Neel who knows the formula and prototype categories very well, but not the GT. This huge challenge doesn't scare them and more importantly, they both know the track very well: Richard is also racing here for the 24 Hours of Spa and Neel drove here for the 1000 km race in May.

These two new drivers line up following bad weather conditions during the free practice and pre qualifying. So, it was hard for them to discover and improve their knowledge of the car. Qualifying had not been as good as expected: car no.5 started the qualifying race from 13th position and car no.6 from 11th.

After a really good start, the two Matech Ford GT1 no.5 and no.6 were 9th and 8th after one lap! Thomas Mutsch had a really great first stint with car no.5 and handed over the car to Richard in 8th position. Lap after lap, Richard improved his knowledge of the car, in 9th position, and few minutes before the end of the race, he overtook two drivers and finished the race at 7th position.

Neel Jani, driving car no.6 also had a good start and he felt comfortable after just few minutes. But after few laps, the tires became too worn, preventing the Swiss driver from overtaking or even keeping position. In 10th position after the pitstop, Romain Grosjean had a very hard stint: he lost 7 positions and spun out of the track at Blanchimont curve during the last lap. Car no.6 finished the race at the 21st position.

The Championship race will start tomorrow, Saturday July 31st, at 12h05 to 13h05 (local time). Car no.5 will race from the 7th position and car no.6 from the 21st.

Ford GT1 Matech no.5

Thomas Mutsch : " After the tricky weather conditions of yesterday, we were in trouble with the set up because we were more guessing than knowing what is the best set up for the qualifying, but we improved a lot for the race and the car was quite well balanced. Going from p13 to p7 is quite good so it helps for tomorrow to score some points! Richard did a really great job for his first GT1 race! ".

Richard Westbrook : " I think it's a really good debut, and for my first time in the car with such different weather conditions, wet and dry. We just slowly improved and improved and I worked very well with Thomas, we can see we have got a really good race car, Thomas did an absolutely fantastic stint and he gave me the car on a good position. For me, the car was very difficult to drive for the first 3 laps, and then it came in and I could overtake a driver and then catch up to the other in front of me. I think it's a really good start and I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow."

Ford GT1 Matech no.6

Neel Jani : " For my first GT race, it's a really great experience with a good start from p11 to p8 on the first lap, and then during my 2nd and 3rd lap I was catching p7 and 6 so I thought "Well, I can be good right now !". But then, a big problem started with the rear, I didn't know if the rear tires were off or if we have a problem on the car, it was oversteering so much and it became worse and worse, the car was slower and slower. As I don't have so much experience in GT, at the beginning I thought that maybe I don't know how to act with the tires but then we saw it with Romain as well, and it was even worse, he unfortunately crashed the car. We were in p8 and not finishing the race is really not good. The team did a great job and for tomorrow they have work to fix the car, so that we can compete."

-source: matech-competition.ch

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Neel Jani , Romain Grosjean , Richard Westbrook , Thomas Mutsch