Monza: Team Modena race report

Fourth for Team Modena in Monza Le Mans Series Opener After 1000kms of hard racing around the 5.79km Monza circuit, Team Modena emerged from the opening round of the 2007 Le Mans Series with championship points safely in the bag after a tough...

Fourth for Team Modena in Monza Le Mans Series Opener

After 1000kms of hard racing around the 5.79km Monza circuit, Team Modena emerged from the opening round of the 2007 Le Mans Series with championship points safely in the bag after a tough race at the classic Italian circuit. The team's Aston Martin DBR9, driven by Antonio Garcia and Liz Halliday, finished fourth in the LMGT1 class, and 12th overall in the 46-car field, despite suffering from understeer throughout the five-hour race, and that prevented Garcia from challenging the class leaders - particularly in the opening stages of the race.

The Aston Martin had lacked the top speed of its class rivals during the weekend, a critical factor on the historic circuit and so Team Modena relied on its strategy and pit work to return a good result. Garcia attempted a double stint on a set of tyres, but the understeer meant that he had to pit early having lost time. In all the team completed 158 laps, and claimed 12th overall in the 46-car field.

"I am pleased that we finished," said Team Principal Graham Shultz. "We got the strategy wrong to a degree but overall it was a good team effort, the team gelled and it was a smooth working weekend. It would have been hard to beat the Corvettes anyway because they are good cars, run by a good team, they were on song and it was their day today."

Garcia and Christophe Bouchut in the rival Larbre Aston Martin battled in the opening stages before the Spaniard managed to find a way past. "I was stuck behind Bouchut but I didn't have the downforce at the front so I couldn't follow him at critical parts of the circuit, such as the Parabolica," said Garcia. "Even when I did try to pass him, he was very defensive, though completely fair. He only offered me the outside line if I wanted to pass him, and that was frustrating for me.

"For my second stint I was thinking to do a double stint and my lap times were competitive but again when I was catching the other cars I could not follow them very well and I had to pit for new tyres."

Halliday found herself more comfortable in the car than before at the recent Sebring 12-Hour race, which had been her first opportunity to drive the DBR9, and was able to put in some competitive lap times despite a broken cool suit which meant she became very hot in the car during her two stints behind the wheel.

"The car ran very well and I did a better job than at Sebring," said Halliday. "Today I was consistent, and I could do the times that I wanted to. I am settling into the GT car and getting much more used to having the LMP cars and the slower GT2 cars around on the track."

Next LMS Race: Valencia, Spain, May 5th / 6th.

-credit: tm

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Series European Le Mans
Drivers Antonio Garcia , Christophe Bouchut , Liz Halliday