As you know, the Prodrive Ferrari won at Road America after Jan's great move on Johnny O'Connell in the 'Vette, but we didn't have long to celebrate as it was soon off to Laguna Seca for the next round of the American Le Mans Series, and a chance for the yellow perils to get back at us.

The Monterey Peninsula is one of my favourite places in the world. I am not sure what it is that makes me feel so peaceful inside when I am there, but I feel very comfortable. We stayed on the beach, and watching the sun come down over the back of Monterey is very cool indeed. It gave me time to think about the race ahead and prepare myself mentally.

Jan and I were looking forward to racing the Ferrari at Laguna this year, as it was a track the suited the 550 last year, when the 'Vettes struggled. I thought that this year was going to be different, however, mainly because of the run the 'Vettes have had over the year, and the times were close between all of us and it was difficult to say who would be quickest. However, Jan was all keyed up as this was one of his favourite tracks - and he didn't disappoint. He snatched the pole from our other team car and gave us a Ferrari one-two.

The weather was beautiful as usual and the racing was very close. Tomas [Enge] got the jump at the start and led Jan around the first lap. Our car already had damage to the front from the skirmish at the first corner - and I was thinking 'not again' as Tomas proceeded to pull away from Jan.

The gap gradually stabilised and, then, after the pit-stops, I jumped in - and lost more time to Peter [Kox] as we tried to fix the from of the car.

After that, I was determined to catch Peter, and set about it the right way by claiming back about a second a lap. Then he got behind the 'Vettes, who were having a terrible time with grip, but were keen not to let him pass that easily.

I then caught right up and was on the back of the train when Peter got caught behind a slower car, allowing me to make my pass. Then I had the same problem as Peter had had with the 'Vettes making it hard for me to pass. It is normal in the series to behave in this way because, if a pace car comes out, they may get a lap back, so I dived down the inside of the first one into turn one and got past.

One down, one to go. I had a go at the next 'Vette - the one driven by Kelly Collins - and tried the same tactic by diving down the inside of turn four, but he turned into me and we touched. We both had a big moment and that let Peter and the other 'Vette get past. I was spewing at this and off I went again.

I got past the 'Vette and then had Peter right in front of me. We had a great battle, as he was protecting his line as if we were racing Formula Ford. At one point, he got held up towards the Corkscrew and was blocking me by moving in front of me all the way up the hill. Eventually, a gap appeared up the top of the hill and I went for it. I pulled up on the inside and, although he turned in and we touched, I got through and into the lead.

Peter pitted a few laps before me and, while Jan jumped in, Tomas made up some time with his new tyres. As a result, we could only change two tyres to ensure Jan got out in front, but they were still racing nose-to-tail - and Tomas was much quicker with four new tyres than Jan was with two.

The team became nervous as they thought that this battle was going to end in tears in the race to the finish, so they decided to stop Jan and Tomas from racing and ordered them to finish in the order they were running. The only problem was Jan's radio didn't work during his last stint and he didn't know....

The team put the word on the pit-board, but he didn't get it, hit another car, spun - and then he got a stop-and-go penalty!

This put us out of contention for the win, but a second was still on. Tomas crossed the line and we finished first and second, which was still a great result for the team as they have worked hard for this.

Then, not long after the race, while I was on my way to Australia, I discovered that the result had changed and that car #88 had been thrown out because of a technical infringement. The engine must stall to see if the air box is sealed but, when the test was done on the #88 car, the air box collapsed and it didn't stall. It was a real shame for the team as they didn't need this sort of problem - and, even though it allowed Jan and I to take the class win, it put a different taste on the whole weekend.

By then, however, I was in the air and on my way to Australia for the Sandown 500.....

More later,




Loading Comments...