After Le Mans Qualifying
Le Mans 24-Hours qualifying proved to be incident filled for Team Modena, but the team's professionalism shone through and a fine final session saw the car showing its pace and the team confident for the race. Eighth in the LM GT1class , the team's Aston Martin DBR9 was able to lap quickly, Christian Fittipaldi setting the car's best time in the gathering darkness, but more importantly the three drivers, Christian, Jos Menten and Terry Borcheller now feel they have a car that will be quick and drivable in the 24-hours itself.
On the team's third visit to the French endurance classic a variety of issues had to be overcome on the first evening of qualifying, before they were finally able to demonstrate the potential of their DBR9. Wednesday's qualifying saw a mix of problems deny the team crucial track time, a problem with the windscreen seeing that replaced during the first session - a lengthy job - and then suspected debris on the track caused damage and saw Terry pull off as the engine lost its oil
"Something happened to the windscreen, said Christian, "it was clear, but maybe 'distorted' is how to describe it. It was hard to judge the braking points, you either braked too early or too late, and I went off, Jos went off, and Terry did one lap and came back in."
"There was a lot of smoke," said Terry on Wednesday evening, "and I am just glad we didn't wreck the car as the oil came out and hit the rear tyres in the Porsche Curves - a tricky part of the course. I couldn't see anything with the smoke in the car - but maybe we are just getting all these things out the way, I'll take it happening now rather then the race."
Quick running by Christian at the start of Thursday put the team back on course, the Brazilian took to the track at the start of the session and lapped the Aston Martin over three seconds quicker than in Wednesday evening's dramatic sessions.
"The car was fine," said Christian, "I am a lot happier today and we have a decent race car underneath us, it is just a shame that with all our problems we never had the opportunity to put some sticky tyres on and really go for a time. I think we could have been close to the factory cars if not amongst them.
"I was pretty comfortable in the car and the laps I did in the beginning were taking it easy and feeling everything, race pace, not pushing at all, there was just a little bit of traffic here and there. I think that now in our preparation this year we have got all of our problems out the way, the car is better than last year - we have a better piece of machinery underneath and it is a little bit quicker."
All three drivers were pleased with how the Aston Martin was handling, and felt the team were now in good shape for the challenge ahead. After losing some time when a wheel came off with Jos aboard near the end of Thursday's first session, a fine final session saw the team running the quickest laps they had put in all week.
"We are now feeling good about things," said Jos. "I have had some bad luck, though when I went off yesterday that was my fault, and then today the wheel came off, but I hope we have got rid of all the bad luck now and we have a good race.
"I know the car from last year and the team gave me the confidence to go for a fast lap. I was held up, and that cost me some time. I am pretty happy with what we have done - all three of us are close on times which is good for the race."
"We have made progress," said Terry, "I am happy and we will have a good car under us for a good race and are getting better every time we go out. We've learned what we can and can't do with the soft tyre, and it has been a much better day than yesterday. I think the car is good, I am limited on laps, but I feel good and we will be fine come race time."
In the gathering gloom Jos was the first driver to do a sub-3m54s lap in the car, and a few laps later Christian put in the car's quickest lap of the week, in what was almost full darkness, with a 3m53.031s lap to see the car 43rd on the 55-car grid.
"We have had a positive end to the evening," said Sporting Director Rik Bryan, "and got a lot of work done and made the most of the track time. We are happy with the set-up of the car and set a solid time we are happy with, it's not critically important in a 24-Hour race to be qualifying near the front, but it is nice to know what pace you are on.
"We've done some good work in the dark, tried a few things, and the drivers are now very happy. We had a slight drama earlier this evening when we lost a wheel, but that was due to a faulty wheel and nothing the team have done - we've come a huge way this evening."
There is no running at Le Mans on Friday, the highlight of the day being the traditional driver parade through the streets of the town which is scheduled to start at 18.00. The race itself starts at 15.00 on Saturday afternoon.
Le Mans Competition!
If you are heading fro Le Mans this weekend then don't forget the Team Modena competition for some prizes that money can't buy! All you have to do is take a picture of the Team Modena Aston Martin DBR9 on your mobile phone, send it in to us on +44 (0)7786 207882 - and you could be one of the lucky winners.
The best picture from qualifying sees the winning snapper join the team on the grid before the race and have his picture taken with the world-famous Hawaiian Tropic girls. The best race picture sent in will win someone a passenger ride in one of the team's British GT Championship Lamborghini Gallardos at a test session later this year - two unequalled prizes!
Full details are on the web-site and renowned sportscar photographer John Brooks will be casting his expert eye over the entries to decide on the winners. As ever with any competition, terms and conditions apply - and these can be found at www.teammodena.com buily by Racecar