Team Modena Lamborghini Shows Record Pace at Brands Team Modena once more demonstrated the pace and potential of their new Lamborghini Gallardo race car this weekend as the Avon Tyres British GT Championship visited Brands Hatch, qualifying the...
Team Modena Lamborghini Shows Record Pace at Brands
Team Modena once more demonstrated the pace and potential of their new Lamborghini Gallardo race car this weekend as the Avon Tyres British GT Championship visited Brands Hatch, qualifying the car on the front row for the second race of the weekend, and setting a new outright GT3 lap record during that race. Only bad luck denied the team strong race finishes, Matt Owen retiring from the opening race after a spin, while Antonio Garcia was leading Sunday's race when a puncture saw him have to crawl round almost an entire lap - dropping the Lamborghini to the rear of the field.
With both drivers never having been to Brands Hatch before, Owen was in the car for the first of Saturday's two 15- minute qualifying sessions, and despite making his GT debut was 11th quickest of the 25-car field, while Garcia waited until just six minutes of the second session were left before taking to the track and putting in a series of rapid laps.
"We're very pleased," said Team Principal Graham Schultz after qualifying. "We had two intelligent runs from two intelligent drivers, and Antonio showed his professionalism by waiting for the track and traffic to be just right before going out.""
"I was pleased with qualifying," said Owen, "I went quicker than before but it was hard to find a space on the track. The times are all very close, and I can't wait for the start of the race."
"The car and circuit are new to me so I didn't know what to expect," said Garcia. "The car feels really good, but I had to overtake cars on my first two quick laps."
Saturday afternoon's round unfortunately proved a short one for Team Modena as a spin from Owen - running just outside the top ten on his first race in the competitive championship - saw him kiss the barriers at the quick Westfield corner, forcing the car into retirement. Owen had held position on his first GT rolling start through the daunting Paddock Hill Bend, and was starting to find his rhythm while running in heavy traffic when caught out on lap six.
"Matt made a smooth start to his first race with us," said Schultz, "and was then just caught out by a little bit of inexperience when under pressure. We will have the car fully repaired for tomorrow and we will show what we can do in that race."
At the start of Sunday's one-hour race Garcia moved into the lead from second on the grid with a breath-taking manoeuvre at the Druids hairpin on the opening lap, diving inside the leader and out-braking him into the tightest corner on the circuit. On his second lap Garcia set the fastest lap of the race - over a second and a half quicker than the mark that had stood at the start of the weekend.
A puncture while leading saw Garcia forced to crawl round almost an entire lap to return to the pits, effectively ending the car's race chances. Garcia handed over to Owen at the halfway point of the race, and he brought the car, running for the first time with new sponsor Riverbourne Group Ltd, corporate insurers, on the flanks, back into the top twenty overall by the end.
"It was a marvellous performance," summed up Schultz. "We were leading at the end of the first lap, and were going well until the puncture to the left rear tyre. Both drivers did well and we learnt a lot about the car today. I think we have the best prepared car out there, and we have the best looking car, the guys have done a great job on the Lamborghini."
"I pushed him hard into the first corner," said Garcia of his opening lap, "as I wanted him to brake late, then I went to the inside so that when he looked in his mirror I was already there. He did not leave me a lot of room - but there was enough. Then I was leading when the rear tyre blew, and it took me a long time to get back round to the pits.
"It is my first time at Brands Hatch, and my first impression of the circuit was that I liked it, and I still do. The Lamborghini is great and we are learning more about it every race."
"There was nothing to really be gained," said Owen of his stint in the car after re-joining the race at the rear of the field, "but it was good to have more some race time in the car and I feel I can be competitive. The team have been great all weekend and I can't wait for the next race now."
Next Avon Tyres British GT Championship round: Silverstone, Northants, August 11th / 12th