Signature Plus: Autosport 1000kms of Silverstone preview

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Signature Plus: Autosport 1000kms of Silverstone preview

Signature Plus have their sights set firmly on the podium as the 2010 Le Mans Series championship draws to a conclusion at the new-look Silverstone circuit in the UK this weekend.

The Silverstone 1000km race marks the culmination of Signature's debut season as an Official Aston Martin Racing Team and the end of their second season participating in endurance racing. It has been a positive season for the team, who has been able to showcase racing talent on a competitive stage and to achieve successful results in Signature's first season with Aston Martin and Dunlop tyres.

Signature Plus already has two podiums to their name in 2010, including an outright podium result from Portugal in July and third place in the LMP1 class at the 1000kms of Hungaroring in August. These results see the teams drivers lying in third place in the drivers' championship just two points from second place. Signature Plus has a realistic chance of winning the team championship title in Silverstone with just a two point deficit from the current leaders ahead of Silverstone.

Silverstone has undergone a notable facelift since last year's Le Mans Series event with the addition of the new Arena section extending the lap from 5.141km to just under 6km in length. The new portion of track has been designed with spectator viewing as top priority and has already received favourable reviews from the Formula 1, MotoGP and Superbike championships that have already raced around the new layout.

The changes mean that most drivers will have to acquaint themselves with the new track configuration, which includes new names such as Farm Curve, The Loop and Village, joining better known names like Luffield, Maggots, Becketts and Stowe. The initial practice sessions will therefore be a useful opportunity for drivers to find the optimum line through the new Arena section, while understanding the impact on car set-up and tyre performance throughout the extended lap.

Quick Q+A with Franck Mailleux

Franck, how do you feel heading into this final event of the year?
"I can't believe we are already at the final race of the season. It seems like yesterday that we were heading to Paul Ricard for the first ever test with the Aston Martin. Looking at the progress that we have made through the year, I am very excited to go to Silverstone where we will try to target our best team performance of the season. We were unlucky in Hungary a few weeks ago but we were still able to claim our second LMP1 podium in a row, so I would very much like to make it a hat-trick in Silverstone and to end the season in style. We are all motivated and ready to push hard to try and chase the team championship title and second place in the drivers' championship."

What do you think of the new Silverstone layout?
"Like most drivers, I have not raced at the new-look Silverstone track but I have seen the changes from other races and I think it will be an interesting challenge. Silverstone has always been one of the best tracks in the world, high speed and technically demanding, and the Arena section looks to add to that spectacle. I am looking forward to trying it out. We will of course have to work closely together with Aston Martin and Dunlop to evaluate the best set-up and tyre choice for the new track, but this is a normal routine for practice sessions and I am sure that we will once again find the best solution possible."

Quick Q+A with Pierre Ragues

Pierre, do you think the team is able to continue its run of podium results?
"That is absolutely the aim. We have made great progress during the last two events in Portugal and Hungary, and I think our on-track performances have reflected that. We are reaching the end of our debut season with Aston Martin and Dunlop and I think we have experienced a positive upward curve. We have gelled together nicely and have moved forwards in every area since our first test together back in March. I hope Silverstone will be the highlight of the season to help us push for the teams' title and to help us in our battle for second place in the drivers' championship."

What do you think of the new Silverstone layout?
"I love racing at Silverstone and the new track layout, from what I have seen on paper and from other races, appears to add fresh and interesting challenges. It was my first time racing an LMP1 car around Silverstone last year and I really enjoyed it, so I looking forward to this year's event. It is a demanding track and everybody will have a bit of learning to do in practice so the first sessions will be important in laying the foundations for the rest of the weekend. All the guys in Signature, at Aston Martin and at Dunlop have done a great job this year so I'm hopeful of a good result for all of us."
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