Having just arrived this Wednesday at the Adria International Raceway in order to take part in another equivalency test in view of the FIA-GT3 championship, the Matech Racing team have already scored their first victory. They completed an incredible race against time in order to bring this project to fruition, namely to bring a Ford GT up to race norms, in a serious test session with a highly successful machine ....
Better than a regulation, it is a technical philosophy that the teams appointed by the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile and SRO Motorsport Group have to apply to ensure the development and the manufacture of cars retained for the FIA-GT3 Championship. A championship that experienced an enormous success as from the first year it came into being, enough to be at the root of numerous projects.
Amongst which Matech Racing, a Swiss structure who put it into their head to bring a myth back to life, namely the Ford GT40 ! In just a few months, the team run by Christian Schumacher, with workshops located within a stone's throw of the Nürburgring in Germany, managed to convert the Ford GT into a race car. And after several test runs on the world renowned Eifel circuit, the Matech team headed off for Adria, for a first official run, and especially to take part in this now reputable equivalency test handled byChristophe Bouchut in person.
And the least one can say is that the Ford GT did not go unnoticed. Not only did this beauty prove itself to be fast, clocking up the best lap time of the day, but its overall preparation dumbfounded more than one, starting with Christophe Bouchut himself ! "Notwithstanding its young age, this Ford GT really impressed me «, the official FIA-GT3 driver commented." Right from the word go she was really easy to handle, and especially fast. I reckon this car has an enormous potential. Believe me they'll be talking about this car in this type of race. We now need to see how it compares with the references in the category, but Matech Racing really carried out come great work ...»
Apart from the lap times clocked by the Ford GT, it is also the practical side of the car that took Bouchut aback. «We know that she has great looks, and the effect she has on people is guaranteed. Once at the wheel I thought it would take quite a few minutes for the mechanics to fix and adjust the various elements, such as the windscreen, the dashboard, and the pedals; without forgetting the various bodywork components. Well in fact quite the contrary! In just a couple of seconds, everything was OK, and I was out on the track. In fact in an endurance race situation, such accessibility allows the mechanics to work quickly which is an undeniable advantage. Everything has been well thought out, offering maximum efficiency ...»
A perfect christening for the Matech Racing Ford GT, which will be back on track in Dijon next Tuesday and Wednesday for a further series of tests. And we are leaving the final word to Christophe Bouchut. «In my career as a driver I have come across lots of cars. Well I can tell you one thing; this Ford GT has loads of spirit... truly impressive!"
A first victory for the Matech Racing Ford GT!
For the second meeting of the 2007 FIA-GT3 European Championship the port of call was the street circuit of Bucharest, some 3,111 km in length around the buildings of the Rumanian parliament. A new experience for these GT monsters; some of them unfortunately making an early acquaintance with the concrete safety walls. In these unusual conditions the Matech Racing Ford GTs proved their extreme competitiveness by clinching their first victory this Sunday!
The Matech Racing team took on this city rendezvous in a highly methodical manner. There was no question of going out to titillate those walls during the free practice sessions but rather to concentrate on a perfect set-up for the race. Notwithstanding the fact that the two cars, driven by Thomas Mutsch and Martin Bartek on the one hand (#43), Romain Bera and Stefan van Campenhoudt on the other (#44), took the start in 12th and 30th place respectively, this first race being dotted with numerous incidents and not forgetting the arrival of rain, these Ford GTs made an impressive come back up through the pack ... "The #43 was the first car to call at the pits to take on grooved tyres, team manager Christian Schumacher told us, which gave us quite an advantage. Thomas went out determined to do battle, just behind Stephane Daoudi, whose Ferrari was still shod with slicks. A major crash between two Aston Martins then occurred, and the race was neutralised right through to the finish. Outcome: Obviously the Ferrari never swapped tyres - she came in during the following lap - and even though strategically we held the advantage she came out on top. Having said that, a 2nd place as from the car's 3rd race is pretty brilliant!" The only small regret, an administrative imbroglio prevented Mutsch and Bartek from getting on to the podium, before Stephane Ratel personally admitted that the race marshals had made a mistake. Placed within the top 5 at the time of the first neutralisation, car #44 came in one lap later than the #43, namely at the same time as the major number of competitors in the pack, and with all the problems that could cause. As such Bera and van Campenhoudt finished the race in 13th place.
After this excellent start to the weekend hopes were high for the following morning's race, especially as Thomas Mutsch was in second spot on the grid. The German driver was in top form and promptly took the lead. As soon as the rain appeared the Ford GT #43 came into the pitlane a first time to take on grooved tyres. A few laps later Thomas was back to hand over the wheel to Martin who promptly took the rap of ....a Stop & Go for having carried out a driver change outside of the pit-stop framework ! "Christian promptly went off to see the Clerk of the Course, Martin Bartek told us, but in the time allocate was unable to explain to them that in fact the driver change had taken place during the second pitstop and not the first one as erroneously indicated on the monitors. So in fact I inherited a Stop & Go, and talking about a Stop & Go, this was a complete stop which lasted a full minute. Absolute hell!" And Martin Bartek set off hell for leather, completing a brilliant come back from 16th to 8th place at the finish.
Luckily for the Matech Racing team, car #44 with van Campenhoudt and Bera had a quieter time on the track, thanks also to some well orchestrated strategy. Having found himself in the lead under the rain, after a prompt visit to the pitlane, the Frenchman had a flat in the last few laps....but still managed to control the Ford GT and take the chequered flag as overall winner, some 5 seconds ahead of a Porsche! "What a week-end!" Christian concluded. "Not only has the Ford won a race after only its 4th outing in the FIA-GT3 European Championship, but our two cars finished the meeting in one piece, which wasn't the case for some of the others. The Ford GT's chassis is pretty good, and whereas the engine output is under that of the Dodges and Corvettes we have no cause to envy the Ferraris or other Astons .Many thanks to the entire Matech team. Champagne for all!"
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