Team Modena take Second at Silverstone Team Modena took second place in today's round of the Le Mans Series at Silverstone, having challenged for the lead of the LM GT1 category until the very last laps of the 1000km race. The combination of ...
Team Modena take Second at Silverstone
Team Modena took second place in today's round of the Le Mans Series at Silverstone, having challenged for the lead of the LM GT1 category until the very last laps of the 1000km race. The combination of driver pairing Antonio Garcia and Darren Turner with inspired strategy calls from the team's technical staff saw them challenging for the win until a late Safety Car period handed the tactical advantage to their closest rivals.
Garcia tool pole position in the LM GT1 class in Saturday's 20-minute qualifying session, setting a time over a second quicker than the rest of the class - and good enough for 21st overall. The drivers had been quickest in each of the three Free Practice sessions held across Friday and Saturday - and crucially were able to translate that pace into a superb qualifying performance.
"There is still a long race to go, but it's great to be back at home at Silverstone and on pole position," said Team Modena Sporting Director Rik Bryan. "Antonio did an amazing lap, and our two drivers have been working amazingly well together. Both Antonio and Darren have put a lot of work into what we have done so far to make the car so quick."
"It was a good lap, no problems, no traffic," said Garcia. "The car felt good and I was able to push as much as I wanted. When you have a car you can push hard with - that is perfect, you can run 100%. When everything works well, everything is easy - we have been competitive all year and this is the result."
"Antonio did a fantastic lap to be a second quicker than anyone else," said Turner. "It bodes well for the race and we have worked hard in the first three practice sessions on a race set-up and that has paid off in qualifying as well."
Garcia was in the team's Aston Martin DBR9 for the start of Sunday's British round of the LMS, and the team reacted swiftly to an early Safety Car period to switch their pit strategy and make an early stop that had the potential to see them making one less pit-stop towards the end of the race. As the event unfolded, the DBR9 was a constant front-runner, the differing pit strategies of the leading teams seeing cars taking turns at the front of the competitive LM GT1 class, the Team Modena pit crew continually turning the Aston Martin round quickly at the end of each driver stint with a series of perfect pit-stops.
The race came down to a duel between Team Modena and their season long rivals, the French run Saleen. The team's strategy looked to be paying off as the final pit stops approached, but a Safety Car period to rescue a stranded car enabled the Saleen to pit and crucially stay on the same lap, closing up to run a few cars behind the Aston Martin in the Safety Car chain.
As the final laps counted down the DBR9 was ten-seconds back in second place, the team electing to bring the car in right at the end for a precautionary 'splash and dash' fuel stop to guarantee second place - the next car three laps further back, such had been the pace of the lead battle. The result put the team on the LMS podium, two years after their DBR9, the first customer chassis, made its race debut in the equivalent Silverstone fixture, and 13th overall in the 45-car field.
"Our pit-stops today were superb," said Team Principal Graham Schultz. "We know how quick the Saleen is, and if we'd had some good fortune with that final Safety Car it could have gone our way - but I am very pleased with the result we have got."
"It's a good result for us," said team Sporting Director Rik Bryan, "it would have been nice to have had a win at home with Antonio and Darren, but we gave it a good run and the Saleen has dominated all year - but today we gave it a good race. We have done as well as we could have done, and won some more silverware!"
"It was a difficult race," said Garcia, "it was hard to know what was happening on the track, conditions were varying and your pace was changing. When the first Safety Car came out I was thinking about my rear tyre pressures - they seemed a bit high, so we decided to stop.
"I did a stint and a half on the same tyres, but after that we got into a rhythm, and at one point I was the fastest car out there and we got close to the Saleen. We were both close on pace, we were pushing hard the whole race, and it was a tough race for everyone."
"My second stint was a lot better than my first," said Turner, "I think there may have been something down on the circuit during my first run. The Saleen was very quick, and it all came down to strategy - we stopped under the first Safety Car, they stopped under the second, and we were just a little bit too far away to take the win from them.
"We had some good close driving racing today, it was nice to show you can run so close with professional drivers right on the limit. Second is good for the team though, and I am very happy, everyone has worked together really well and the pit-stops have been fantastic - we kept it close until the end and it's great to be on the podium."
Next LMS Race: Mil Milhas, Brasil, November 10th / 11th