Scottish Frustration for Team Modena at Knockhill Team Modena Team Modena's first visit to the tight and twisty Knockhill circuit in Scotland was an ultimately frustrating one, the team scoring points in a confused race one before being knocked...
Scottish Frustration for Team Modena at Knockhill
Team Modena Team Modena's first visit to the tight and twisty Knockhill circuit in Scotland was an ultimately frustrating one, the team scoring points in a confused race one before being knocked out of race two. Newcomers Guy Harrington and Ben de Zille Butler gained valuable track time to settle in with the team and the Lamborghini Gallardo, but the long trip north proved a disappointment with the car ending the weekend damaged and in a gravel bed.
The duo were out in a hired Lamborghini Gallardo as the team are awaiting delivery of their new car from the German suppliers, the team's original car damaged at Oulton Park still under repair. The hired car was black, and the team worked hard to ensure it bore as much of the distinctive Team Modena livery and logo as possible - including the Lamborghini Wycombe allegiance on the flanks. The next rounds of the series in May should see the team fully up to strength and running two Gallardos.
"We really have to thank Reiter Engineering for letting us hire such a good car," said Team principal Graham Schultz, "It has been a bit like our weekend at Oulton Park, we have suffered from poor management of the first race, lots of things going on that shouldn't have happened, and we were told that people will be penalised heavily for bumping into other cars, and when it came to it nothing happened. We really don't expect this sort of thing at this level of the sport.
"Things are allowed to happen and it seem as if people can do as they please. We have suffered a lot of very expensive damage in just the first two meetings."
Saturday's qualifying saw Guy in the car for the first of the two 15-minute sessions, and was fourth quickest before a tangle with a Ferrari saw the car end the session in the gravel. Ben took over the car for the second session, and was 12th quickest, just 1.1 seconds off pole in the competitive GT field.
"The set-up on the car really worked, apart from getting run into by a Ferrari!" said Guy. "I had backed off to try to get a clear lap and the Ferrari clipped me on the apex of a corner and spun me round into the gravel - I had seen him coming and was trying to let him by. I was straight on the radio and told the team everything was ok, and if we can start fourth and pick some cars off - we'll see what can happen."
"Obviously I had a dodgy car after Guy had been in it!" joked Ben. "The steering was a bit out but nothing to worry about, I'm still learning the car but going quicker each time I am in it and we are improving all the time."
Race one on Saturday afternoon proved to be a confused race with numerous Safety Car periods. The Team Modena Lamborghini Gallardo was classified eighth in the final results, with the team convinced a better result was their due after the one-hour race. The only leading car not to pit during a Safety Car period, Guy brought the car in from the lead right at the end of the race's pit stop window, only for Ben to emerge ninth, and be further hampered by a bizarre incident towards the end of the race.
Fourth on lap one, Guy kept his cool as twice cars ahead went off in the greasy conditions and was running second during a third Safety Car period when the leader pitted. The lead Ferrari had dropped back from the Safety Car as it went into the pits, and mistakenly two cars were released from the pit lane into the gap between Guy and the Safety Car, denying him a clear track to put in some quick laps when racing resumed.
Team Modena Guy stayed out for another 15 laps heading the field, his pace dented by being delayed by the two backmarkers ahead of him, before handing over to Ben while around 25-seconds in the lead.
Ben was behind a backmarker during a fourth Safety Car period and trying to catch the pack, when they were both brought to a halt at a corner due to a tow rope positioned across the track by marshals retrieving a stranded car. Both cars were waved one at a time across the rope - and both caught on it, Ben having to reverse the Lamborghini to finally get clear.
Eighth at the end, the team felt sure they and gained an advantage during the Safety Car periods - as well as staying out on the track during the third period as apparently instructed in the drivers briefing on Saturday morning.
"The Lamborghini was good in the conditions early in the race," said Guy, "the first half of the track was dry but the rest was like sheet ice, and cars kept hitting the kerbs and spinning. We gained positions and the call came from the pit wall to stay out and hold position. We feel we did our bit in the race - we were in the lead when we pitted."
"The rope was across the road, and got caught on the front of the car!" said Ben. "It was unbelievable, I was waved over it, and immediately felt the splitter catch. We were told we couldn't stop under the Safety Car this morning, but lots of other cars did."
Race two of Team Modena's Scottish adventure again proved frustrating, Guy having a car he was passing turn in on him, destroying the Lamborghini's rear suspension and seeing round four of the Avon tyres British GT Championship end in a gravel trap. Guy had just taken over the car after a strong first stint by Ben, and another points scoring finish was in sight for the team's new driving duo.
Ben was boxed at the start and lost ground, but then drove a strong session to keep the Gallardo in the hunt, pitting on lap 27. Guy took over the car and settled into his race pace, before diving inside a rival at the final hairpin on lap 35, the other car turning into the corner inflicting fatal damage on the Team Modena car. The subsequent delay as rescue workers loaded the damaged Gallardo onto a vehicle saw a 10-lap Safety Car period in the race.
"I was on the outside for the start which is never good," said Ben, "and I got forced wide by a Porsche and a couple of other cars followed him through. I had a good run and was challenging other cars, but it is a narrow circuit and not east to find away past. It was good to get into a flow with the car."
"I was alongside the other car at the final hairpin," said Guy, " and he just turned in on me, there was nothing I could do."