27 April 2014
Gene on board as JOTA rebuilds for Spa
JOTA Sport strengthens its line-up for both Spa and Le Mans as it aims to reclaim a podium spot in its first WEC outing of 2014.
Three-time Spa 6 Hour winner Marc Gené will make his JOTA Sport debut alongside Simon Dolan and Harry Tincknell as the team looks to erase memories of frustrating home race by returning to the podium in Belgium next weekend.
JOTA won the LMP2 class in the 2012 race at Spa and finished third last year, and this year's trip to the Ardennes marks the first of two FIA World Endurance Championship outings for the British outfit.
Audi Sport works driver Gené has been loaned to JOTA for both the Spa race and the ensuing Le Mans 24 Hours, and the Spaniard will join team regulars Dolan and Tincknell to strengthen the line-up in Belgium.
“Spa is one of my favourite tracks, together with Le Mans and Monza, and recently I have been very successful [there] with Peugeot and Audi, winning twice with the former and once with Audi on my race debut for them,” the Spaniard commented, “I like circuits with high speed corners and clearly Eau Rouge, Pouhon and even the Bus Stop are very fast corners.
“My main objective is to gain experience with JOTA Sport and the Zytek LMP2 for Le Mans, but I will still be targeting a podium with a winning mindset!”
Doctors have declared Dolan fit following the massive frontal impact he suffered when leading the opening European Le Mans Series race at Silverstone on Easter Saturday, and he will rejoin fellow Briton – and Silverstone class polesitter Tincknell in a rebuilt car at Spa.
“Spa has been quite kind to me,” Dolan recalled, “I raced there first in a Radical in 2009, got a class win there in 2012 in the FIA WEC race and followed that up with third in LMP2 in the same race last year.
“It is my favourite track - very fast, flowing and a real challenge. This year, the straight-line speed of the GTE cars will mean that lapping traffic will be more difficult than usual and, personally, I'll be making sure I give any Ferrari a very wide berth after what happened at Silverstone!
“I am very excited to have Marc racing with JOTA Sport for the first time. His experience will mean he will be very quick through the traffic and I hope Harry and I can learn from this. I am near 100 per cent fit after the Silverstone shunt but, whatever state I'm in, I shall only be happy with a class victory.”
After setting the class pace on home soil, and comparing the ELMS timesheets to those in the main event at Silverstone, Tincknell is confident that a podium finish is possible.
“I first raced at Spa in F3 and I've recorded top-six finishes there, but have yet to get on the podium and that is a minimum achievement for me this time,” he insisted, “It is an 'old school' track and I am really looking forward to going there in an LMP2 sportscar.
“We have a good chance of winning. The Silverstone ELMS race proved that we are a force to be reckoned with, and our pace appeared to be better than the LMP2 cars competing in the Silverstone WEC race the same weekend.
“JOTA has a good record at Spa and so does Marc, while Simon was ultra-competitive at Silverstone. A podium should be the minimum target - and a win is certainly not unrealistic.”
While the Zytek Z11SN's strength prevented any serious injuries to Dolan, it is not surprising to hear that a new monocoque is being utilised in Belgium.
“Due to Simon's unfortunate Silverstone accident, we'll be using tub number nine, which is the monocoque we used in 2012 and '13 so it already has a pretty good track record at Spa,” JOTA's Sam Hignett joked, “We carry a complete set of spares at our race shop so the actual car build since Silverstone was relatively routine. The time-consuming element was getting the spares replenished, dry fitted, built up and liveried.
“JOTA goes to Spa with a good record and, after all of the team's hard work since Silverstone, it would be nice to reward them with a top-three finish at the very least. I believe that, in Harry, Marc and Simon along with the Zytek, we have a combination quite capable of doing that at our first WEC race of 2014.”
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