Accident Spoils Spa 24 Hours for Sugden Tim Sugden's bad luck in 24 hour races this year did not improve last weekend in the Proximus Spa 24 Hour Race in Belgium as the JMB - GruppeM Ferrari F430 retired before the 7 hour mark with steering ...
Accident Spoils Spa 24 Hours for Sugden
Tim Sugden's bad luck in 24 hour races this year did not improve last weekend in the Proximus Spa 24 Hour Race in Belgium as the JMB - GruppeM Ferrari F430 retired before the 7 hour mark with steering problems resulting from a heavy impact during the morning "warm-up" period as Tim's normal driving partner, Iradj Alexander went off on one of the fastest parts of the track.
For this race Tim and Iradj had been joined by Jean- Michel Martin, a former 3 times winner of the race and Stephane Daoudi who had won two races around the Spa circuit the previous weekend when driving in the Peugeot GT Cup series. With such a strong driver line-up the team had high hopes of a podium finish
All the GT2 entries in this "Blue Ribband" race of the FIA series were of the highest quality ever and in the first free practice Tim topped the time sheets and continued to run in the top 4 or 5 through the remaining day, night and qualifying sessions. In the end he had to settle for grid 5 for the race as, with 44 cars out on the 7 km track trying to put in a time traffic spoiled the best runs on new tyres. GT2 cars made up almost half the field and the early laps were crowded with the field tightly bunched in grid order at the front.
The repairs from the morning accident had only been completed as the pit lane opened for the 4.00pm start and the first part of the race was the only time the effectiveness of the repairs could be tried. After he handed the car over to Alexander after 27 laps from 4th place Tim said: "The car's balance was fine until the incident in warm-up this morning, now it has dreadful understeer, no doubt as a result of the heavy front impact"
Sugden's misery was compounded as he was informed that the car had lost power steering soon after he handed over to Alexander. The resultant stop dropped the JMB car 14 laps off the GT2 lead battle before the rejoining but also allowed the team to make changes that improved the handling. The team changed the hydraulic power steering pump but the problem returned 5 hours later and irreparable damage was found in the steering rack which caused final retirement.