Jota Sport AMR: Strong pace goes unrewarded at imola

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Official Aston Martin Racing partner team Jota Sport AMR again showed strong pace in round three of the Le Mans Series at Imola last weekend even though bad luck ultimately left Simon Dolan and Sam Hancock disappointed to come home seventh in GTE Pro.

Speed and consistency during free practice and qualifying had initially given the team cause for optimism. Hancock’s planned opening double stint confirmed as much with the #79 Aston Martin Vantage GT2 carving through the field before being hobbled with a puncture.

Wisely the team chose to optimise the unscheduled tyre change by installing Dolan who continued to impress with another mature performance. That was before the car’s afternoon was compromised further when an optimistic move by the Hankook Team Farnbacher Ferrari resulted in contact.

While the significant impact was enough to end the Ferrari’s afternoon, Jota Sport’s mechanics were able to repair the damaged Vantage. Having remained at the wheel, Dolan resumed his impressive stint before Hancock climbed back aboard to begin a blistering run of laps, often amongst the top three in class, which again confirmed the Aston Martin’s potential.

The stifling heat was also playing its part at a circuit regarded as one of the most physically punishing. And with so much time already lost both drivers were powerless to mount any sort of comeback, Dolan picking off one more place during his final stint to finish a creditable seventh in class.

Sam Hignett, Team Principal: “It feels quite rewarding just to finish after all the problems here. As we’ve known all along the car has good raw performance which we couldn’t really exploit after the accident with the Ferrari. GTE Pro is hugely competitive though so seventh is still a good result.”

Simon Dolan: “I’ve never known anything to be as physically demanding as that so I’m delighted to have got the car to the finish and with my personal performance. The incident with the Ferrari highlighted just how frenetic the race was at a circuit where there’s never a second to relax. Our outright pace was as close as it’s been to the factory teams all season so clearly we’ve made progress. It was also the first time this year that I’ve felt able to compete against the quick guys which has given me a lot of confidence ahead of Silverstone.”

Sam Hancock: “Despite the issues, there are a lot of positives we can take away from Imola. The car’s reliability was excellent which, considering the heat and that it took a hammering over the curbs, is really impressive, so the team deserves a pat on the back for the part they’ve played. Personally, I also thought it was Simon’s best race yet. To not put a foot wrong at a short, busy circuit like Imola in those conditions was a great effort. The contact with the Ferrari was one hundred per cent not his fault. And Allan Simonsen, to his credit, offered a full apology.”

While the championship takes its summer break, Jota Sport AMR will continue to work on refining the car’s handling during a series of test days ahead of the season’s penultimate round at Silverstone on September 9-11
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