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24 Hours of Daytona: Engine failure halts Menten's race
For Matt Connolly Motorsports' European quartet the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona came to a premature end. Just before the halfway stage in the race the engine of their Porsche 997 GT3 Cup bearing #20 gave up the ghost. Under difficult conditions, with a heavy downpour just before the start of this American classic event, Jos Menten managed in the early stages to keep in contact with the top players. Menten and his team mates even climbed up into the top-ten of the well filled GT class. But after six hours of hard racing it became apparent that lady luck wasn't on the side of Jos Menten, Markus Palttala, Oskar Slingerland and Christophe Lapierre. An engine failure put an end to the strong performance put in by the four Europeans.

During the preparatory test sessions in the beginning of January it was clear cut that a fair amount of work was still required on the MCM Porsche. "We were able to cover a few laps, but no way were we in a position to complete our full programme", Menten sighed at the beginning of January. "During the not everything was running smoothly, which costs us valuable time."

Between the test weekend and the race weekend the car was put through a thorough check-up. However Menten, Palttala, Slingerland and Lapierre weren't spared additional problems. This time quirky electronics caused a further loss of time. This resulted in the track time for the training and qualifying sessions being greatly reduced for the European quartet. "Following on from the test day we realised that we didn't have the material with which to take on the top teams. It will undoubtedly be a difficult assignment, but if we manage to keep running we might be able to climb up through the ranks. A 24 hours race is long and the speeds between the two types of car are sufficiently big to make it difficult for the drivers, and we hope to take advantage of this."

For Menten and cohorts the qualifying sessions brought them a grid place in the middle of the pack. "We could have moved up a few places, but we had decided not to take the car over the limit during qualifying. The car has clearly improved, but it won't be easy", the Dutchman commented, looking ahead.

The 28 year old driver from Haelen is given the assignment to take the start by his MCM team. As the result of the heavy downpour just before the start, the race organisers decide to start the race under a full-course yellow. This neutralisation lasts twenty minutes after which the field is let loose for the real start. Menten carries out his task to perfection and maintains his position. The Haelen based driver keeps to the rhythm of the front runners, but six hours into the race any chance of achieving a good result goes by the board. A competitor from the faster Daytona Prototype class crashes into the rear of the Porsche 997 GT3 Cup. At that given moment Jos Menten and his team mates had climbed up into ninth place, and with another three quarters of the race to go anything was possible. As a result of the incident the rear end of the Porsche # 20 was badly damaged and the team lost an enormous amount of time in the pit lane.

Once repaired the European quartet are back on the track. Menten and his teammates systematically climb back up into the top-twenty of the GTs, but their advance is hindered through engine problems. "Two hours after the repairs the engine started losing power. This reared its head during Oskar's stint. We managed to solve a problem with the flywheel, but one hour later it was all over. The engine just gave up the ghost", a disappointed Jos Menten sighed. The American adventure was fun but unfortunately without a successful outcome. "The way in which the American public lives for motorsport cannot be compared to what happens on the other side of the ocean. Over here motorsport is one big party, it runs through their blood. It's a great pity that we cannot travel back home with a good result, because I have truly enjoyed every second of this adventure."
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