PODIUM FOR ASTON MARTIN RACING AT AUTODROMO ALGARVE
News from the Aston Martin LMP1 team on their fortunes at Autodromo do Algarve
The 007 Aston Martin LMP1 car of Jan Charouz (CZ), Tomas Enge (CZ) and Stefan Mücke (DE) finished second, securing a place on the podium at the Algarve 1000 kilometres in Portugal yesterday. The sister 009 car of Harold Primat (CH), Miguel Ramos (PT) and Darren Turner (GB) finished fifth. At 7:15pm Mücke started the race in the 007 car from second on the grid and soon took the lead. However, after just over an hour, 007 was in the gravel following a spin. The car was undamaged and rejoined in fourth place. At around 9pm, after completing a double stint, Mücke handed the 007 Aston Martin to team-mate Charouz who turned in a fault-free performance. Charouz made rapid progress under the cover of darkness to finish in front.
Czech driver Enge took over at 22:50 and stayed at the wheel for two stints before returning the car to Mücke with 27 laps remaining. The 007 car and the number 16 Pescarolo spent the race trading first and second positions but it was the Pescarolo that came out on top leaving Mücke to bring the Gulf liveried Aston Martin across the line in second place.
In the 009 car, Ramos started the race from fifth on the grid, dropping down to ninth in the frantic first laps before settling into a good rhythm and working back up to fifth.
Second in the 009 was Swiss driver Primat who dropped back following contact with another car. Luckily, damage to the 009 Aston Martin was minimal and Primat was able to rejoin the race and work his was back through the pack.
Turner took over just after 22:00 and made impressive progress, climbing again to fifth before Primat returned for his second run with just over an hour of the race remaining. Turner took over with 23 laps left to run, bringing the car home safely in fifth.
Team Principal George Howard-Chappell commented: “We are of course disappointed with second but the combination of the spin and a small technical fault with the 007 car at the end of the race cost us the victory. I was pleased to see the 009 car come home safely and we are still in the hunt for the championship. Once again the pit work from the team was excellent.”
Driver quotes 007
Jan Charouz (CZ): “It was fun but very tough. My first run was good, the Michelin tyres were great but towards the second half of my double stint I was starting to struggle for grip. I had a few critical moments but I managed to get through them all. It is a hard track to drive because you have corners and corners and corners. Even on the straights you can’t really relax because it’s so bumpy that you have to hold the steering wheel really tight to make sure the car doesn’t go offline. I got used to the track pretty quickly so the visibility wasn’t really a problem for me. I think an open car would be easier but we have a closed car and it’s quick so I’m not complaining. I had a great drive tonight.”
Tomas Enge (CZ): “My two stints went well, especially the first one. I struggled a little with slow traffic; some of the other cars seemed to take a long time to get used to the dark after they left the pits. It is much harder to see here at night than at Le Mans but it is the same for everybody. I was really careful when overtaking but I didn’t want to be too cautious and lose valuable time. I had a little problem with gear shifting in my second run but I was able to hold my position and I had a lot of fun out there. I am looking forward to the next two races and I think the tracks at Nürburgring and Silverstone will be more suitable for our cars.”
Stefan Mücke (D): “I had a good start but I couldn’t get past the lead car in the first corner. Then I got lucky with the traffic and had a better exit out of the last corner which allowed me to take the lead on the start/finish straight. I was getting quite a lot of pressure from the car behind but I was able to stay in front. Unfortunately I had a spin whilst overtaking and I ended up in the gravel. I’m not really sure what happened, the rear locked up, I touched the brake and then lost the rear, I couldn’t do anything. We lost the lead but the car was undamaged and we didn’t lose too much time.”
Driver quotes 009
Harold Primat (CH): “I started well but then I had contact with another car, I didn’t think it was a big issue but the car felt a bit strange so I came into the pits for the team to check it over. The car was fine and the rest of my stint was ok but not great, it is difficult in traffic here. It was the beginning of the night when I got in the car and it took a while to adjust to the level of visibility.”
Miguel Ramos (PT): “The start was tricky because my tyres were quite cold, I had a lot of understeer and it was hard to get into a rhythm at first. When I got into the rhythm it was great until quite near the end when I got some pickup on my tyres which was difficult to shift. I completed 64 laps, which is the most I have done in one go so far. It felt good but it was hard, I wanted to bring the car home safely and make sure I got to the end with no mistakes which I did so I’m really pleased.”
Darren Turner (GB): “We started fifth and we finished fifth. The car was very good but I think like most people, our race wasn’t trouble free. I really enjoyed my time on the track especially at the end as the car was really well balanced and we had good pace. The team did another great job in the pit stops.”
The penultimate round of the Le Mans Series will take place at on the Grand Prix circuit at the Nürburgring in Germany on 23 August 2009.