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Nurburgring: A week-end full of collisions
For the sixth round of the FIA GT1 World Championship the teams travelled on down to the German Eifel region. “A weekend to forget soonest”, is how Jos Menten summarised the meeting of the World Championship for GT cars on the Nürburgring. Similar to last month Menten was part of the Mad Croc Racing team, which is running two Corvette C6.R. Together with his regional partner Xavier Maassen Menten dominated in Spa-Francorchamps… up until a flat tyre threw a spanner in the works. In Germany the Dutch duo were robbed of a decent placing as the result of several collisions.

On Friday the free practice sessions took place under varying conditions. The DKR - Mad Croc Racing team management decided not to take any risks and keep the car in the box as long as possible. Menten and Maassen clocked up a tenth best time. During the pre-qualifying the drivers were once again confronted with difficult conditions on the track. As was the case in the free practice the Corvette bearing start number 11 finished in tenth place. “The balance still isn’t as it should be. We’re having trouble trying to find grip”, Menten remarked after the pre-qualifying.

Just like Formula 1 the qualifying session is split into three parts. In Q1 Xavier Maassen qualifies amongst the top 18. Jos Menten takes over the wheel and the Haelen based driver appeared to be well under way for a place in the last eight. “I had clocked up personal best times in sector 1 and sector 2, so it looked good. But on exiting the Mercedes arena I experienced oversteer, and that cost me two tenths”, a visibly disappointed Jos Menten added. Those two tenths of a second determine the difference between a ticket for Q3 and the tenth spot on the starting grid. “We could not have fought it out for the pole. The amended Balance of Performance makes it difficult for us to take on the fight with the Aston Martins, but we would have had a better placing had it not been for that error. We were finally able to take up eighth place on the grid as the result of two competitors not having respected the white lines, whereby we did see a place in Q1 disappear under our noses.”

All in all an eighth place on the grid is not a bad position, but it is one in the middle of the fray. In that context the first left at Nurburgring carries a bad reputation. At the start of the Qualifying Race there is an immediate accident between various cars in the top-five. Jos Menten does his best to avoid the stranded Nissan but is hit from behind. The Corvette is seriously damaged. Menten is able to hold tenth place, but is then nudged once again. “The damage was so serious that I was forced to call in for a pitstop. The bodywork was flapping in all directions and the team did their best to botch it up as far as possible. With four laps down I took to the track in order to improve in our starting position for the World Championship race”, Menten sighed. A downpour late in the race doesn’t offer any solace. Thanks to a few retirements Menten and Maassen manage to climb up into eighteenth place.

In the warm-up the Mad Croc team continues to work on the set-up, however the Corvette’s balance never reaches perfection. Notwithstanding that the Limburg duo do not bow their heads. “We’ve seen a few catch-up races in our time, so why shouldn’t it be possible today? Providing we have a good start there’s always possibility of scoring points”, Menten commented just before the race. Xavier Maassen takes the start of the Championship Race. Once again there is a pile up in the first left, however this time around it appears to be to the advantage of Menten and Maassen. Maassen climbs up six places and settles into twelfth spot … only to be shoved off the track by another competitor a few laps later. “I just can’t understand the behaviour of some drivers, it isn’t a ten lap one make race, this is a World Championship for GT cars. We have to fight for each place, but there’s a big difference between fighting it out for a place and behaving like a fool shoving everyone off the track. The race management urgently need to dot the ‘i’ and hand out penalties should drivers act is such a manner. It’s no longer fun. We’re fast and the car runs well, but to be bowled off the track twice during one race weekend is unacceptable”, were Xavier Maassen’s complaints regarding the driving behaviour of some of the competitors..

“I can but agree with Xavier’s comments. The Balance of Performance ensures that the performance of the cars is levelled out. On top of that in a race of one hour you are obliged to act very swiftly. You can’t quietly wait for a competitor to make a mistake. Taking into account these two factors you are almost obliged to take risks as from the first lap and that inevitably leads to multiple incidents”, Jos Menten explains. “The championship has been given the status of World Championship and that automatically leads to bigger interests, making it more difficult for certain drivers to keep a cool head.”
« Terug 30-08-2010
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