First Ferrari GT victory at Le Mans since 1974 - looking forward to UK FIA GT Race on 29 June
Last Sunday, at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the British, privately run joint venture formed by an amalgamation of talent from Veloqx Motorsport and Prodrive took the fight to the might of the US automotive industry from the start to the finish of the world’s most testing endurance sportscar race, and provided the first victory for a GT Ferrari since 1974.
The Veloqx Prodrive team led the GTS timesheets for the entire race and Jamie Davies, Tomas Enge and Peter Kox achieved a popular and rousing victory – crossing the finish line at 4pm with ten laps in hand over the Corvette of Gavin, Pilgrim and Collins.
As tension rose in the pits towards the end of the race, feelings of excitement or expectation were tempered by the knowledge that both the Veloqx Prodrive Ferrari 550s would not be taking the chequered flag. The no.80 car of Kelvin Burt, Anthony Davidson and Darren Turner suffered a right front wheel bearing failure at 4:20am, with Davidson at the wheel. He was bruised and shocked and was taken to Le Mans’ central hospital for further examination and a brain scan. He returned to the circuit during the afternoon, and was able to enjoy the success with the entire team.
Kelvin Burt (GB), car nr.80: “It’s the sort of thing that happens at Le Mans, unfortunately. You put so much work in, nearly get all the way through the night and then something like this happens. Before the accident we were going really well and could have made up the time we lost at the beginning but stuff happens and you can’t do anything about it.”
Anthony Davidson (GB), car no.80: “I’m really happy that the team achieved their goal of winning, albeit in the other car. It would have been great to have a one-two, but it only takes a small problem to occur to put you out of the race for good. I’ m glad I’m okay and I think the team did a great job all week and it’s a shame we couldn’t finish as we thoroughly deserved it.”
Jamie Davies (GB), nr.88: “I think the best memory I will take away with me today will be the podium, standing there and seeing everyone below and all around us enjoying it as much as we were. We have a fantastic team, a really fast car which ran beautifully all day and did it all at the home of the most famous sportscar race in the world. What more can you want?”
Tomas Enge (CZ), car nr. 88: “I wanted to take everything this weekend, but Peter stopped me when he got the GTS fastest lap this morning! But starting from the pole and leading the class all the way through the race is more than I could have dreamed of. After last year’s race, which was very disappointing for us, we have worked very hard on reliability, doing many, many tests, and this has paid us today.”
Peter Kox (NL), car nr.88: “It’s been a fantastic day, and I can’t quite believe it at the moment. The car ran perfectly all day, the gearbox was fantastic and we didn’t have any problems with our pit stops. Perhaps we were a bit lucky that the Corvettes had more problems than usual, as we weren’t challenged on the track as hard as we might have been, but that shouldn’t take away from our victory which is really deserved by the whole team.”
Darren Turner (GB), car nr.80: “Obviously we are all really disappointed with the way it turned out for us, but are pleased that Anthony is okay. Like him, I’m disappointed for everyone who’s put so much work into it. It’s a shame we only got half way through, and didn’t manage to run to the end as we were in second place at the time. In the end though, it only matters that Anthony is alright – we can come back next year!
TMC TO ENTER THREE FERRARI 360 N/GT RACE CARS FOR THE BRITISH ROUND OF THE FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP AT DONINGTON PARK ON 29 JUNE.
Brackley-based Team Maranello Concessionaires will enter all three of its Ferrari 360 N/GT race cars for the British round of the FIA GT Championship at Donington Park on 29 June. Cars 88 and 89 will be driven by Jamie Davies/Tim Mullen and Kelvin Burt/Darren Turner respectively. The third car, to be entered with the race number 80, will be driven by 2003 Le Mans winner Guy Smith and Andrew Kirkaldy.
Both Smith and Kirkaldy will join Davies/Mullen and Burt/Turner in cars 88 and 89 for the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa next month. Entering TMC’s third car at Donington, which has been used as a test and development vehicle to date, will enable both drivers to gain additional experience with the 360 Modena ahead of this grueling endurance race.
“We are both proud and delighted to have both Guy and Andrew on board for Spa,” commented Rod Benoist, TMC’s Team Manager. “Entering our third race car at Donington will provide both of them with more time to familiarise themselves with the car itself as well as the team. In fact, ahead of round five, we are also conducting a two-day test at Snetterton this week (Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 June) with cars 88 and 89 and will shake-down car 80 too.”
“Donington Park on 29 June is clearly very important to Team Maranello Concessionaires,” continued John Newman, TMC’s Commercial Director. “We will have many friends, sponsors, and supporters of the team with us throughout the weekend. The Sky Sports TV cameras will be recording the team’s activities for ‘Ferrari Racing,’ our documentary programme, and representatives from both Ferrari UK and the Ferrari Owners’ Club will be enjoying our hospitality. I’m sure that Jamie and Guy, fresh from their Le Mans victories, together with Tim, Kelvin, Darren and Andrew will make all British Ferrari enthusiasts very proud and we are expecting a memorable weekend for the team.”
For further images of current, and 1960's, racing Ferraris please look at www.veloqxtmc.com, the team's excellent website.
Text/Photos - Veloqx Racing/Team Maranello Concessionaires.