For Jos Menten one of the most memorable weeks of his career is about to take off. This young 26 year old from the Limburg will in fact be making his debut this coming Saturday in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. We have to go as far back as...
For Jos Menten one of the most memorable weeks of his career is about to take off. This young 26 year old from the Limburg will in fact be making his debut this coming Saturday in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. We have to go as far back as 1972 to find a driver from the Limburg on the grid of the 24 Hours race at the Sarthe. It was Frans Lubin at the wheel of a Ford Capri RS 2600, but he unfortunately retired with a damaged engine. In the hard fought LMGT1 category Jos Menten will be up against the tough Aston Martin and Corvette works teams. The driver from Haelen is sharing an Aston Martin DBR9, in the Team Modena livery, with the Brazilian Christian Fittipaldi and the Spaniard Antonio Garcia.
The moment finally arrives on Wednesday at 19:00hrs! The lights turn to green and the start is given for the first part of the qualifying sessions. The first stint is taken by Antonio Garcia. The Spaniard brings the Team Modena Aston Martin DBR9 up into seventh place in the LMGT1-category, just behind the Corvette and Aston Martin works cars and the ORECA Saleens.
Christian Fittipaldi is the second driver to get behind the wheel of the Aston. Unfortunately his lap times are somewhat limited when another LMGT1 competitor crashes off the track. A rain storm and a lengthy interruption of the session throw a spanner in the works. "Later on Jos still has to drive his compulsory number of laps", Team Modena's Sport Director Rik Bryan comments. "Once that has been completed everyone can go out to gain some extra mileage."
During the second part of the session the track is quite clearly faster. Jos Menten completes his first few laps and the team are satisfied with his performance. Lap after lap the young driver from Haelen improves his lap times. "When I first got on to the track it was wet. But as I gradually completed more laps the circuit started to dry out", Menten told us. Half an hour before the end of the first qualifying session Fittipaldi once again got behind the wheel. The Brazilian drove a short stint and handed the car over to Antonio Garcia. In the last few minutes of the session Garcia brought the Aston Martin up into sixth place in the LMGT1. Team Modena ended the first qualifying session as best privateers!
It soon became obvious on Thursday evening that the ranking order would not change. The rain was belting down. Menten, Garcia and Fittipaldi complete their laps with due care. At the end of the first part of the second qualifying session the Team Modena Aston Martin appears near the top of the table rankings: "Our car is perfect under all weather conditions! For me it was an interesting session. The forecast is rain for the entire weekend. Gaining experience under these conditions is therefore invaluable", Menten remarked. The bad weather was still present during the second part of the qualifying session on Thursday, held from 22:00hrs through until midnight. The team management decided not to take any unnecessary risks and keep the Aston Martin DBR9 in the pit box. As such the grid order as determined yesterday remains unchanged.
Jos Menten, Antonio Garcia and Christian Fittipaldi will start of on Saturday at 15:00hrs from the third row of the grid!
-credit: jos menten