Signature Plus: Franck Mailleux takes Sixth Place on Aston Martin Debut

Monday, April 12, 2010

Signature Plus driver Franck Mailleux finished today's maiden 8 Hours of Le Castellet in sixth position after a respectable and important debut weekend as an Official Aston Martin Team Partner Driver.

Franck started the race with a triple stint and finished with a double stint, while his team-mates, including fellow Quadra Sports driver Pierre Ragues, both ran consistent double stints. Although it was a useful race in terms of gaining experience, it was far from trouble-free with the need for front and rear end repairs during some of the scheduled pit stops as a result of damaged louvers on their Lola Aston Martin LMP1 car.

Franck made an excellent start from eighth on the grid advancing to fourth position on the opening lap, but the team was unable to match the hot pace of the frontrunners in their first weekend with their all-new package.

The drivers completed 55 laps in Friday's practice sessions and a further 28 laps on Saturday morning as they focussed on car set-up and a thorough analysis of the tyre performance with new tyre supplier Dunlop. The afternoon qualifying session did not yield the expected improvement in lap time as nominated Pierre Ragues suffered from handling problems and could only claim the eighth fastest time.

For Signature, the result marked a continuation of their 100% finish rate in the Le Mans Series after an unbroken run of race finishes in their debut LMS season in 2009, and their first as an official Aston Martin partner team.

Although the weather conditions were largely pleasant for the duration of the weekend, cloud cover started in the early afternoon and led to a late threat of rain which ultimately failed to impact on the closing laps of the race.

The end result is not where Signature aims to be in its second season participating in LMP1, but it has proven a valuable opportunity to gather data in real race conditions with its new car, new tyres and for the first full 8 hour race around Paul Ricard, data that will prove highly beneficial to the team in preparation for round two of this year's championship at Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps circuit in one month's time.

Franck Mailleux said: "I am fairly pleased with what we have achieved today, bearing in mind it was our first full race distance with Aston Martin and Dunlop. I got a great start and was inside the top four, but we had some problems during the race which dropped us down the order. We encountered some issues with the louvers during the race which needed fixing, so we had to carry out longer pit stops to enact repairs. In my final stint, the rain was trying hard to come down but it did not amount to much and actually did not really affect us. This weekend has been like an extended test session for us, in that we have been able to gather very important data from the car and the tyres which we can now put to good use for the next race and start to exploit the clear potential of the car. There were a lot of new elements for us this weekend, so all in all a top six result is quite respectable as we look forward to Spa. I'd like to thank all the team for their hard work and to my sponsors Sojasun for their support this weekend."
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