Les Ford GT Matech Racing sont déjà très performantes !

Les Ford GT Matech Racing sont déjà très performantes !

07.05.2007: Les Ford GT Matech Racing sont déjà très performantes !

FIA-GT3 European Championship / 1. Silverstone

C'est ce week-end, à l'occasion du prestigieux RAC Tourist Trophy de Silverstone, que les Ford GT développées et construites par Matech Racing ont effectué leurs grands débuts en course. Deux sprints de 60' marquaient en effet le coup d'envoi du FIA-GT3 European Championship, l'occasion pour Thomas Mutsch et Martin Bartek d'une part, Romain Bera et Stefan Vancampenhoudt de l'autre, de marquer le meeting de leur empreinte…

Avec un projet Ford GT monté en un temps record, l'équipe suisse Matech Racing s'attendait logiquement à faire face à l'une ou l'autre maladie de jeunesse affectant les superbes bolides frappés des numéros #43 et #44. Et pourtant, dès les essais libres, il apparaissait que les Ford étaient clairement dans le coup.

Non seulement le top 10 était rapidement atteint, mais le Français Romain Bera offrait à la GT en configuration GT3 une première… pole position en vue de la première course de son histoire ! Confirmation magique lors de la seconde séance qualificative, avec cette fois l'Allemand Thomas Mutsch décrochant un magnifique 2ème temps. Pas de doute, Matech Racing défrayait déjà la chronique, alors que le championnat 2007 n'en était qu'à ses balbutiements…

Samedi après-midi, la première course permettait à Bera de se maintenir dans le peloton de tête avant que des problèmes d'ordre électronique apparaissent, de quoi contrarier la gestion du moteur qui se mettait à ratatouiller. Résultat : un abandon, alors que la performance était clairement au rendez-vous. Parti 23ème, Martin Bartek effectuait un premier relais de toute beauté au volant de la #43, s'offrant le luxe de céder le volant à Thomas Mutsch en 16ème position.

La stratégie développée par Christian Schumacher et les siens était bonne, et à l'issue d'une neutralisation, la Ford GT pointait au 6ème rang. "Une place sur le podium était envisageable", explique le team-manager, "mais cette fois, c'est la malchance qui s'en est mêlée. Thomas a touché une Porsche, et le choc a actionné le coupe-circuit général. La voiture s'est arrêtée, et le pilote n'est pas parvenu à la remettre en marche.

Double abandon donc, mais peut-on réellement être déçu ? Le programme avec les Ford a été monté en un temps record, et il est normal pour des voitures aussi jeunes de rencontrer quelques petits problèmes. Rien de fondamental cependant. Cela dit, en partant de la première ligne pour la deuxième fois en autant de courses, nos chances sont intactes pour dimanche…"

Et cette fois, ce sont les pilotes "professionnels" qui assuraient le premier relais, avant de céder le volant aux "gentlemen drivers". Encore fallait-il arriver jusqu'à la grille de départ de cette joute dominicale. "Il s'est en effet passé un truc incroyable", poursuit Christian Schumacher. "Nous avons voulu monter sur la pré-grille de la même manière que la veille, mais il y avait tellement de voitures de spectateurs que l'accès était bloqué.

On nous a alors indiqué une autre voie, qui menait directement à la piste. Peu après le départ de la course, alors que Thomas Mutsch avait placé la Ford GT #44 au sommet du classement, nous avons hérité d'un double Drive Through pour être monté en piste par une entrée non autorisée ! J'ai eu beau réclamé auprès de la Direction de Course, rien n'y a fait !

Thomas a purgé sa pénalité directement, avant de remonter à la 6ème place, tandis que Stefan Vancampenhoudt a ignoré les injonctions des commissaires. Résultat : il a reçu un drapeau noir et a été disqualifié. Martin Bartek a pris le relais de Thomas, mais dès le deuxième tour de son relais, il est parti en tête-à-queue. On se classe donc 16ème, alors qu'un top 5 était jouable."

C'est donc avec un sentiment de frustration que le premier week-end de course des superbes Ford GT Matech Racing s'est achevé. "Restons néanmoins très positif", conclut Christian, "dans la mesure où la compétitivité des voitures ne fait aucune doute. Les chronos enregistrés tant aux essais qu'en course placent la Ford dans le peloton de tête, ce qui promet pour la suite de la saison." Une campagne qui passera par Bucarest dans deux semaines déjà. Premier podium en vue ?

 

- Vincent Franssen -

photo Jacques Létihon

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07.05.2007 / MaP

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