Team Modena’s race season starts this coming weekend with the opening round of the 2009 Le Mans Deries in Barcelona, Spain – the first race for the English team with their new Ferrari 430 GT, which bears a new red livery as befits one of the most famous marques in motor racing. Sunday’s 1000km race will see the team make its debut in the GT2 category of the LMS, where competition will be stiff, and will also see Leo Mansell start his first race with squad alongside Team Modena regular Antonio Garcia.
“It will be a pleasure and an honour to be racing the Ferrari,” says Team Principal Graham Schultz, “it is the beginning of our link with one of the biggest names in racing. The car has run well at the last three tests, and everything has gone to plan, we are going to the first race with high hopes.”
After several seasons racing in the GT1 category of the LMS, winning three out of five races in that category last season, Team Modena this weekend will be having their first race in the GT2 category with the Ferrari. The new category throws up some new challenges for the team, not the least of which is around three times the number of rival cars in the class.
“The competition is much higher in GT because there are so many more cars in the category,” explains Team Manager Hans Muelhbauer, “which means we have to have a different race strategy as our car will always be surrounded by cars doing approximately the same speed. Technically, a modern GT2 car is at least as complex as a GT1 car – we can adjust more parameters on our Ferrari than we could on our Aston Martin – it is a proper race car, and we are looking forward to the challenge of racing it.”
Antonio has added to his laurels as one of the best sportscar drivers currently racing with fine results in the Daytona 24-Hours and the Sebring 12-Hours races since his last Team Modena outing, and will be keen to show what he can do in his home race. Leo is making his LMS debut after a series of successful tests with the Ferrari, and will be running the full LMS season with the team as well as the Le Mans 24-Hours race in June.
“It is going to be an exciting weekend,” said Leo, son of 1992 Formula One World Champion Nigel Mansell, “the first race of any season is special, but this will be my first endurance race, first time I have ever shared a car, and my first race at Barcelona.
“There will be a lot of new experiences, and GT2 is a very competitive category, but overall it is all about doing the job out on the track. The car is good, the team are good and Antonio is the best out there, so we have a great package.”The six-hour, 1000km race is scheduled to start at 11.30am local time on Sunday at the 4.6km Circuit de Catalunya, north of Barcelona. Free practice sessions on Friday and Saturday morning give the team valuable track time, while a single 20-minute qualifying session on Saturday afternoon sets the grid position, with 13 cars currently entered in the GT2 category.