Signature Plus: Spa 1000km preview

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Signature Plus team are gearing up for round two of this year's Le Mans Series championship which is set to take place at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium next weekend.

After a satisfactory debut as an Official Aston Martin Racing Team Partner Drivers at the 8 Hours of Le Castellet at the beginning of April, the team will be hoping to make further improvements to their Dunlop-shod Aston Martin LMP1 around the challenging 7km Spa circuit.

The Belgian track is a firm driver favourite and has been used for endurance sports car racing as far back as the early 1950s. In fact the first 1000km race was held at Spa in 1954. The circuit has spawned some of the most well known names in motor racing legend with the La Source hairpin, the Bus Stop and the famous Eau Rouge, often cited by drivers as one of the most exhilarating parts of any track - even with today's technologically advanced race cars.

Spa has also attracted a larger number of participants as the event represents the final race opportunity for teams to assess the competition before June's 24 Hours of Le Mans, the jewel in the crown of endurance racing and one of the world's top racing spectacles. There are 59 entries registered across the four classes with 11 cars in LMP1 and 18 cars in LMP2, which promises a thrilling weekend of racing.

Signature Plus is targeting an improved race performance after finishing sixth at Paul Ricard, a respectable debut with a new car and working with a new tyre supplier. Franck Mailleux is due to shake down the car in preparation for Spa at the Lurcy-Levis circuit in France on Tuesday.

Q+A with Franck Mailleux

Franck, what lessons did you learn at Paul Ricard that will help for the Spa race?

"Paul Ricard was a very productive weekend. Although the race result is not necessarily what we are targeting this season, we learned a lot. It was the first chance that we had been able to run the car in full race conditions and to work on the set-up and performance of the car, as well as getting a feel for the performance of the Dunlop tyres in representative conditions. We have a lot of potential from the car, but working with Aston Martin, Dunlop and the Signature team, I am sure these lessons will prove useful for Spa."

What do you think of Spa as a track?

"Spa is one of the most special tracks in the world for any racing driver. Of course the track has become slightly easier to drive as car technology has become more advanced, but it still retains a very unique character and a lot of particular challenges. It has a completely different atmosphere to Paul Ricard, so we will have to use the first practice sessions to see what refinements we need to make to the car and we will always keep our eyes on the weather because it is notoriously changeable and often wet."

Q+A with Pierre Ragues

How have you been preparing for next weekend's race at Spa?

"I think as a team we did a very good job at Paul Ricard and we have set ourselves a very solid foundation for the rest of the season. It should be remembered that Paul Ricard was our first race weekend with Aston Martin and Dunlop, so there was a lot to gel together in a short space of time. We now know what areas of the performance we need to improve generally, so we hope to put this into practice at Spa and to get a bit closer to realising our full potential."

Are you looking forward to this race particularly?

"I love Spa. It is such a long, challenging circuit with a lot of racing heritage, so as a driver you always get a special buzz from driving there. The weather is going to be a contributing factor, almost certainly, so we need to be prepared for all eventualities with the car and the tyres. This race is also important because it is the final race before we move on to Le Mans, definitely the highlight of the season, so we need to make sure that any remaining issues are ironed out as much as possible so we can perform to our best ability, get a decent result on Sunday and put ourselves in a confident frame of mind for Le Mans."
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Technorati
  • Facebook
  • TwitThis
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Google
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Propeller
  • Slashdot
  • Netvibes