Tough Start for Team Ford Hotfiel Sport in Monza Qualifying Ford Team Hotfiel Sport experienced a tough start to their World Touring Car Championship campaign. The German outfit entered two brand new Ford Focus in the season opening...
Tough Start for Team Ford Hotfiel Sport in Monza Qualifying
Ford Team Hotfiel Sport experienced a tough start to their World Touring Car Championship campaign. The German outfit entered two brand new Ford Focus in the season opening round in Monza. Thomas Jaeger qualified his Focus on 27th place for Sunday's first race. Thomas Klenke managed 28th place in a grid of 33 cars.
Team principal Hans Hotfiel explained the lack of pace: "Our cars have only just been completed. We were running late - in fact, much later than expected. Both the gear ratios and the latest engine specification only arrived in Monza on Friday afternoon. Our mechanics had to work all through the night just to complete the cars."
Thus, both Klenke and Jaeger almost started work with the car almost from scratch. "Roadholding and driveability are quite different to what we experienced in pre-season testing, when we were still running other gear ratios and an interims engine," said Klenke. "It took us a bit to really understand the car."
Both Jaeger and Klenke improved significantly from first to second free practice. "Our car tends to oversteer at the entry of the corners," Jaeger recalled. "We went for softer springs and managed to bring that oversteer forward into the middle of the corner. This way, you get a better response from the car, making it much easier to drive." On Klenke's car, the mechanics changed the mounting points of the front suspension. "But the car started to push a little too much after we did that so we changed it back a little for qualifying."
Klenke missed the first ten minutes of qualifying due to a false alarm which suggested an oil pressure problem. "When I went out on my first set of new tyres, there was a yellow flag in the first turn, which meant everybody went into the pits straight away and I didn't find anybody to slipstream with," he said.
Jaeger and Klenke then joined for a draft with their second set of fresh rubber. Jaeger pulled Klenke up to 28th spot. "But when he was supposed to pull me in his slipstream, the session was red-flagged." Jaeger got stuck on 27th position. "In total terms, the result doesn't look good - but if you look at the progress we've made, it's really not bad," he said. Klenke added: "At our last test here in Monza, we were nearly a second slower than in today's qualifying. Given that all the others didn't improve on their testing times at all today, we - in relative terms - managed quite a significant step forward."
The drivers' remarks were backed by Ford's sporting director. "We only started work on the cars in November. Hence, it was always clear that we couldn't be fully competitive in the first races," said Jost Capito, head of Ford TeamRS. "In spite of this, we wanted to contest all the races in order to make learn as fast as possible. The best way to measure your own performance and understand the necessary development steps is to face the competition. That's the intention of starting the project the hard way. The early results were always set to suffer because of this but it will pay off in the long term. Our objective remains to be in position to fight for podium positions in the last quarter of the season."