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WC G1T: Sensational third place for super-subs Menten and Kechele!
The decision only fell on Wednesday that Jos Menten would once again be at the wheel of the Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Murciélago SV-670. Team principal drummed up Menten to replace the Brazilian former F1 driver Ricardo Zonta. In 2007 the Haelen-based driver competed in the entire FIA GT championship with the Murciélago R-GT, the SV-670’s predecessor. Team-mate with Reiter Engineering was the young German talent Frank Kechele. At Silverstone Menten and Kechele crowned themselves to being the super-subs. In every session this Reiter-duo surprised friend and foe alike, bringing the Lamborghini home in a sensational third spot in this World Championship. In addition the outcome is that Menten is the best ranked driver from the Low Countries!

During the first free practice Jos Menten registered an excellent sixth best time. The tone had been set, and the competition had been warned that they needed to take the Lamborghini bearing number 25 into account. Notwithstanding the fact that the Balance of Performance is not as yet finely tuned, and that the Aston Martin DBR9 was clearly too fast, Reiter Engineering pulled out all the stops. In pre-qualifying they used old tyres in order to give Menten and Kechele every opportunity during the real qualifying sessions on Saturday.

“The FIA prescribes that only four sets of tyres may be used per meeting. This implies four tyres for a free practice, a pre-qualifying, a qualifying session run in three sets, a one-hour qualifying race, and the World Championship race lasting one hour. Hence we took the logic decision to complete the smallest number of kilometres possible in order to save our tyres. The sixth time in the free practice proves our potential, but battling against the Aston Martin DBR9 we’re having difficulties”, Menten commented after the practice sessions. During the pre-qualifying we hardly see the Lambo #25 on the track. The tyres are being saved for the qualifying sessions.

The FIA GT1 World Championship qualifying works in a similar way as the F1 system. “Seeing I was nominated as first driver, I started off in Q1. It was hard going; we even needed to use two sets of tyres in order to qualify for Q2. In Q2 Frank pulled off a difficult feat by hoisting the car up into third spot. In Q3 the tyres were on their last legs, but I still managed to come out on top as the best of the Lambo drivers. We’re really pleased with our seventh place on the grid for the qualifying race”, Menten added.

In the qualifying race on Saturday Menten and Kechele managed to gain a place. This allowed Menten to start from the third row on the grid on Sunday at 15:15hrs local time, under some threatening clouds. Menten takes a roaring start and manages to outfox an Aston Martin and a Nissan. But as the race progresses it soon becomes clear that the Balance of Performance favours these cars. “But thanks to a well thought out strategy we were able to avoid any battle confusion. When the pit-window opened many drivers called into the pits, but we craftily waited. Whilst all the others were giving each other a hard time I was able to clock up constant lap times and hand over the car to Frank in fourth place. Frank then managed to bring the car up into third place by getting the better of a Maserati. Unfortunately near the end we once again had to give in for a faster Nissan”, Menten continued.

The Lambo #25 took the chequered flag in fourth spot, however “at Nissan they committed an infringement regarding the pit stop regulations and the Aston Martin that finished second ignored a drive-through penalty. One normally must come in three laps after the penalty signal, but in their case it was far later. This gives one an unfair advantage”, Menten comments. Eventually the FIA decided to not punish the Nissan and to impose a 15 second post-race penalty for the Aston Martin’s pitstop infringement, not enough for Menten-Kechele to gain a position. Nevertheless the driver from Haelen made it to the podium after the winning Aston Martin did not pass the post-race scrutineering! “Our fourth place was already pretty sensational. If you analyse the entire weekend you see that the Nissan and Aston Martin were unapproachable. We crowned ourselves the best of the rest – and that with a minimum amount of experience with this new GT1 material. We’re truly proud of our performance – especially because we were rewarded with a place on the podium!”, a smiling Menten concluded, having scored at 15 World Championship points. With his third place the Haelen-based driver is in fact the best driver from the Low Countries.
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