Valencia: Greg Franchi race report

Greg Franchi reveals his speed Even though Greg Franchi was unsuccessful during the first round of the 2007 Le Mans Series at the Monza circuit, his team mate Steve Zacchia having experienced a technical...

Greg Franchi reveals his speed

Even though Greg Franchi was unsuccessful during the first round of the 2007 Le Mans Series at the Monza circuit, his team mate Steve Zacchia having experienced a technical problem during the first relay at the wheel of the Larbre Competition Aston Martin DBR9, hope was abounding at Valencia for the second 1000 km race of the season. And this notwithstanding the fact that as from the first practice sessions it was pretty obvious that this Spanish lay-out was not favoured by this beautiful British machinery.

This did not stop Jack Leconte, the well known team manager of Larbre Competition, to put his full trust in Franchi when fitting new tyres to the car and pressing the stopwatch. "I take this to be a privilege, because at Larbre, all beginners have to learn for a season prior to being allowed to take part in the qualifying sessions ", Greg explained." However it was out of the question to go out there and try out any old thing. I therefore set about these qualifying sessions in a gentle manner, even though a Porsche GT2 hindered me in the last bend. If it hadn't been for that I would have been within 5 tenths of Bouchut, at the wheel of the team's other car. And Christophe is the absolute reference in GT. "

Being unable to follow the rhythm of the Saleen S7-R of Oreca and Racing Box in top speed, the Aston Martin DBR9 prepared the race particularly well, concentrating on its reliability and the length of the struggle on a highly technical circuit to make up the difference. It was the Scot, Gregor Fisken, who took the first stint at the wheel of the #51 shared with Zacchia and Franchi, which didn't go without creating a few problems, in as much that he made a couple of mistakes which cost the second Larbre Competition car no less than..8 laps. "For us at that moment all hopes of a podium place went up in smoke ", Franchi continued, "and when I got into the car it was merely to play out the endurance card, and avoid any further mistakes. My first stint was good, and as I knew that I would be on new tyres for my second relay it was feasible that we could climb back up the GT1 hierarchy"

After Steve Zacchia's stint, Greg was back at the wheel, to register a lap time of 1'34"664, which at that moment represented the best time of the three Astons on the track! "At the end of the stint I was still lapping in 1'36", whereas the other DBR9s were clocking 1'38". Something really rather satisfying. Having climbed back up into 4th place Zacchia suddenly came into the pits during the last relay with the car on fire! In fact a piece of rubber had lodged itself between the exhaust and a carbon part. A major emotion, and what with the time it took to extinguish the fire and then to fix everything and we had lost several laps. We finally finished 6th in GT1, but when I add up all the misadventures of this 6 hour race I must say that there are reasons to be satisfied. I really feel great at the wheel of this Aston, and when we get to the 1000 Km of the Nurburgring, I truly hope that lady luck will be on our side ."

While waiting for this next event at the beginning of July, Greg will in a month's time be taking part in the 12 Hours of Spa, top race of the Belgian Touring Car Series, where he will be sharing the wheel of the Renault Megane Endurance of Delahaye Racing , presently joint leaders in the championship, with his friends Fred Bouvy and Vincent Vosse. Definitely one of the highlights of a 2007 season which might still hold some further surprises.

-credit: vf/gf

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Vincent Vosse , Steve Zacchia , Fred Bouvy , Jack Leconte , Greg Franchi
Teams Larbre Competition , Delahaye Racing Team