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Nightmare Week in Spa

30th July 2007

The 24 hours of Spa was the 6th round of the FIA GT Championship 2007 held on the 28th and 29th July in Spa-Francorchamps / Belgium.

After a good start in the 1.Free Practice Session with the 4th fastest time the Aston Martin Racing BMS Team was not blessed with luck. Jamie Davies and Fabio Babini who share the car in the FIA GT season this year had two more drivers in the car for the 24 hours, Ferdinando Monfardini and Diego Alessi.

Ferdinando drove the out lap in the 2. Free Practice Session on Thursday afternoon and crashed the car heavily into the wall. It was not his fault; it was a technical problem with the throttle. The throttle was stuck open at 66% (equivalent to around 500bhp) when Ferdinando tried to lift off the throttle to turn into “Stavelot” but the throttle never closed. He shifted down two gears and spun the car. Luckily he hit the wall with the rear of the car and not the engine. The team couldn’t do the two Qualifying Sessions Thursday evening because the mechanics had a big job to fix the car and they were waiting for parts to be delivered from England (Prodrive). The team stayed up all night to get the car fixed for the qualifying session on Friday morning but the glue to bond the chassis together was not dry enough to run the car properly in the 3.Qualifying Session and therefore only Ferdinando and Diego did one lap each to qualify themselves for the race. Fabio and Jamie didn’t need to do this because they have raced in Spa many times before and their past race experience gave them an automatic qualification for the race.

The team worked again all day and night to get the car completely ready for the Warm Up on Saturday morning and they did a brilliant job – the car was ready to leave the box at 10am Saturday morning and looked brand new.

Fabio started the race at 4pm on Saturday from the back of the GT1 grid because they couldn’t set a time in the three qualifying sessions. In his first stint Fabio came up to P8 when he changed over to Jamie and Jamie came up to P7 in his stint before the other two drivers in their stints held P7. Everything seemed to be going ok for the team so far.

In the fourth lap of Diego’s 2nd stint (11pm) he crashed the car and the team lost around 23 minutes (10 laps) with the repairs. After that the team was playing catch up with the rest of the field but the next problem came when Jamie had his stint in the night. The car just stopped on the circuit and Jamie was on the radio in contact with the team to find the problem. After 20 minutes stuck on the circuit they found the problem – the throttle sensor. Jamie managed to get the car back in first gear and let it run on tick-over back to the pits where it took the mechanics another 15 minutes to fix the car and Jamie went out again. But it wasn’t the last problem for the team. It started spitting with rain at some points on the circuit and the conditions were really difficult to judge. Jamie was pushing so hard to close the gap to the rest of the field and towards the end of his stint the car snapped in the high speed “Pouhon” corner where it had spotted with rain and he glanced the tyre wall. He continued for another two laps but the front right light was damaged and he went back to the pits to get it replaced. This incident cost another 8 minutes taking them to around 4am. Diego Alessi was back in the car in the morning and after 14 hours and 46 minutes into the race (6.46am) he crashed the car again and the race was finished for car No.23. He hit the wall with 250km/h and destroyed the car completely.

Jamie:”The whole week was just a week of disasters and we were hoping that the luck comes our way at some point but it never came. I hope we used all our bad luck up at this race to have some good fortune for the remaining races in this season.”

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