Gulf AMR Middle East overcome technical woes at Spa

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Gulf AMR Middle East’s Fabien Giroix, Roald Goethe and Mike Wainwright suffered from the slings and arrows of technical misfortune today at the second round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, but battled back brilliantly to finish the 6-hour race and get some valuable racing laps under their belts before the 24 Hours of Le Mans next month.

An engine problem on the Aston Martin Vantage was detected just before morning warm up which resulted in an engine change – the first time the David Price-managed crew had had to perform the task within such time confines. With just four hours available, the team did a magnificent job to complete the work and get Fabien Giroix out on the track, albeit six laps down. Unfortunately an alternator issue delayed the team further but, when the No. 60 car – bearing the iconic blue and orange racing colours of Gulf Oil International – finally entered the race it continued trouble free to the chequered flag. The team were not classified, however, as the lost time in the pits meant they were not able to complete the regulation 75% of the overall winner’s race distance.

All three drivers had competed at the famous 7km Spa track previously, and used that experience profitably to produce consistently competitive lap times throughout the race. Above all, everyone within the Gulf AMR Middle East team was happy to have made their race debut in the ILMC, as Mike Wainwright explained.

“It was nice to get some miles under the belt,” said the Swiss-based businessman who drove the final two hours of the race. “It was great to be racing here at Spa and, in terms of grip levels, the car was good. This was the first time for us amongst such a big field with substantial speed differences between the classes, but the marshals were great and you could see the blue flags easily. It was mostly the Peugeots and Audis you had to get out of the way of, but other than that it wasn’t too bad.”

German driver, Roald Goethe, completed the middle section of the race (which included the only safety car period) and was equally happy to have raced at Spa. “I think you could say it was a practice session in competition, as we had nothing to compete for other than laps having unfortunately missed the first 90 minutes of the race. The moment you are out there, you forgot about the frustration of the start and it only took me 2/3 laps to get into a rhythm and ‘taste’ the ILMC race. It was great to get these laps and we now feel much more confident for Le Mans.”

Final word goes to Team Manager, David Price, who was fulsome in his praise for the Gulf AMR Middle East crew. “Everyone tells me you can’t change an engine in one of these cars in less than 7 hours and I told them they had four. It was the first time we had this group of mechanics together, including three new crew members, and it was the first time we’d done an engine change in the field. They did a sterling job and, as Roald says, performed some magic.”
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