BARNES ENDURES DISAPPOINTING FIA GT3 DEBUT

7th May 2007

Jon Barnes endured a tough start to the 2007 FIA GT3 European Championship at Silverstone in the #30 Damax Ascari KZ1R, after failing to complete a lap in either of the hour-long races over the weekend.

The weekend began well for the 2006 Formula Palmer Audi Champion, when he was able to set the 9th fastest time in the first official Free Practice session on Friday morning. This was despite all six of the Ascari cars being issued with 160kg of 'performance equalling ballast' by the series organisers.

The first 20 minute qualifying session on Saturday was open to silver and bronze classified drivers, meaning that Jon's team mate Jimmy Brodie had to drive the car. This session would determine the starting grid for race 1 and Jimmy qualified the car in 26th position with a time of 1 minute 57.9 seconds.

The second qualifying session was only for silver and gold classified drivers, and this would determine the grid for race 2, scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Despite this being Jon's first time driving the Ascari on new tyres and in full qualifying trim, he was able to set a blistering pace, qualifying the car in 5th position with a time of 1 minute 53.0 seconds. This meant that Jon was not only top Ascari driver, in front of the likes of Ben Collins and Andy Thompson, but also top British driver overall!

Further good news was to come when Stephane Daoudi's #34 JMB Racing Ferrari 430, which had qualified in 3rd position was thrown out of the second qualifying session after failing the FIA ride height tests. The organisers also decided that all six Ascari's could remove 40kg of ballast to allow the cars to get even closer to the top teams.

Jon's team mate had to start race one from the position in which he had finished the first qualifying session, 26th place. Jimmy decided to move over at the first corner in an attempt to avoid the inevitable first lap accident. Unfortunately on lap 9, just 8 minutes before the planned pitstop and driver change, Jimmy was caught out by the spinning Lamborghini Gallardo of Marius Ritskes, crashing head on into #14 car and causing extensive damage to both machines.

The Damax team worked tirelessly through the night to repair the badly damaged Ascari in time for race 2 on Sunday afternoon.

Jon got a jump on the other cars at the rolling start, but halfway along the Silverstone start/finish straight the other cars around him began to edge ahead. Jon lost two positions on the exit of Copse and after safely negotiating the Maggotts/Becketts complex he tried to chase the other cars onto Hanger Straight. It seemed that the Ascari could not keep pace with the cars in front, and after shifting up into sixth gear, a radiator hose burst covering the windscreen in engine coolant. Jon managed to keep the car on the circuit, and get back to the pitlane, but it was obvious that there was a serious problem with the car that could not be fixed, causing another DNF after less than half a lap of racing.

Jon commented afterwards, "Without a doubt, this has been the most disappointing weekend of my career. I was really looking forward to showing my speed and talent in the most competitive GT series in Europe this weekend, but unfortunately, through no fault of my own, I have not had the opportunity to do so."

"I felt that if Jimmy had made it to the pitstop window in race 1, I would have been able to take over and fight for a top ten position or maybe even a podium finish - especially as the car was carrying 40kg less ballast than I had in my qualifying session. The accident that Jimmy had was very unfortunate. I have not had a chance to see the television replays yet but I will be interested to see if anymore could have been done."

"The team worked through the night and then during most of Sunday to get the car back together. They did a great job and I wanted to thank them by putting in a strong performance in race two, which I felt was possible because I was starting from 4th on the grid. The engine felt a little tight and underpowered even on the formation lap. I got as far as Hanger Straight and then there was a bit of a pop - then all I could see was coolant all over the windscreen, it even came inside the car and covered me!"

"The team told me late on Sunday evening that Jimmy had left the engine running for over 20 seconds without oil or water pressure after the accident in the first race. This probably caused a headgasket to fail in the engine, causing the coolant system to pressurise making the radiator hose burst in race two."

"After such a poor weekend, and having not even completed a single racing lap, I am not sure if we will be at the next round in Bucharest. I want to race, but it will be difficult to get the funding together without having any race results or Championship points from this weekend. "

"I can console myself a little after qualifying as fastest Ascari and fastest British driver on Saturday, but at the end of the day that does not mean a lot. Points and trophies is what I came here for this weekend."

Remaining rounds of the 2007 FIA GT3 Championship Calendar

19 & 20 May – Bucharest, Romania

23 & 24 June – Monza, Italy

28 & 29 July – Proximus 24 Hours of Spa (non championship round)

22 & 23 September – Brno, Czech Republic

2 & 3 November – Dubai, United Arab Emirates

For more information visit Jon's website at www.jonbarnes.com

ENDS

Jon Barnes Racing 2017