FOX ROBBED OF PODIUM ON DUBAI 24 HOURS DEBUT
With all four drivers having been through their first stint, Jamie grabbed the GT4 lead at the nine-hour mark, the Milton Keynes-based driver taking full advantage as a variety of incidents afflicted a number of key rivals and a clever pit strategy helped elevate him.
Over the next 10 hours the Audi barely ran outside the top three with Glenn particularly enjoying his night-time stint.
Unfortunately, in the 19th hour, with Andy just seven seconds behind the eventual class winner, the team were hit by the issue that would end their podium hopes.
As a result of Jamie being hit an hour earlier, the left-rear toe link was bent; this issue causing stress on the wheel studs, which eventually sheared and allowed the wheel to part company with the car.
Andy stopped on-track; the time lost being towed back to the pits plus the repairs costing the Audi 20 laps. The crew emerged in seventh spot.
With pro drivers Ben and Jamie tackling the final section of the race, they charged up the order, cutting an 11-lap deficit to sixth place and taking over the spot – and 32nd overall – in the final hour.
The result continues the team’s 100 per cent finishing record in the 24H Series since debuting at the 12H Silverstone last March.
Fox’s next 24H Series outing will be at the 12H Mugello on March 29-30.
Jamie Stanley said: “We missed out on a podium, no question. Winning was possible, but if all the cars in contention had gone trouble-free throughout, I don’t think we quite had enough speed. It was a bit frustrating, especially in my first stint, to run with cars that were clearly slower than us over a lap, but not be able to keep up with them on the straights because of the nature of the BoP restrictions we were faced with, but knowing this, we made sure to execute our strategy perfectly and make up ground that way. The team made fantastic strategy decisions and our guys were comfortably the fastest pit crew in GT4. Ultimately, getting turned around by one of the SPX cars damaged the rear and led to the problem with the wheel studs, which is a real shame because the team deserved a podium.”
Glenn Sherwood said: “After Andy was sideswiped in testing by a GT3 car, we were into damage limitation mode, but after we ran in the podium positions for more than half the race, it looked like it might be one of the best damage limitations ever. The support from Audi Sport, to fly parts out from Germany in time for practice, was amazing and the speed of the work by the Fox mechanics both then, and when the wheel studs sheared during the race, was just incredible. We were up against it with BoP because our Audi was forced to far heavier and with less power than some of the other cars, but our consistency we was excellent. We should have had a podium, but these things happen in endurance racing. We head to Mugello for the next race in very good shape.”
Ben Clucas said: “I’d call this a very good team performance as the strategy calls, the communication in the garage and many other small things really did make us work better than I’ve ever seen, and I think that as a driver line-up, we worked very well, and this made up for the fact that we were hampered on BoP. We didn’t panic after qualifying because for a race like this, it’s almost impossible to judge outright pace when you’re always being lapped by GT3 cars. We were very strong on race speed and without the wheel problem, we’d have had a podium without any doubt. I’m certain that if we carry this level of performance into the main European season, we’re going to have a strong year.”
Andy Perry said: “What an experience. With twice as many cars on-track as the previous 24H Series races I’ve done, that felt incredibly hectic. Personally, my pace was the strongest it’s been since I first drove the Audi, and I’m pleased with that; especially as during my second stint I was running second and only losing small amounts of time to the leader, who was a pro driver. I didn’t have any warning that I was about to lose a wheel, but once I felt the nose go up and the scraping sound of brake disc against the asphalt, I knew what had happened. I couldn’t get back to the pits so had to wait for a tow, but the guys did an awesome job to fix the car and get us back out. It’s clear we had a chance to win, but that’s just one of the features of endurance racing. I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel of the Audi in the future.”
Paul McNeilly, Team Principal, said: “I’m incredibly proud of the job done by the team in Dubai. With 14 GT4 cars entered, we knew this would be the toughest challenge we’ve faced since we joined the 24H Series at Silverstone last year, but even with this, and a BoP that affected us more than most, as the race unfolded, we were definitely in with a chance of winning. We’ve used all the experience gained last year to work far more effectively in Dubai; strategy decisions were better-informed, communication across the team was improved, pitstops were the fastest in GT4 and the drivers all performed brilliantly. We’ve now covered the equivalent of 4.8 seasons of British GT with the Audi without suffering a mechanical problem, and that’s just incredible. We take great heart from this result and look forward to the rest of the season.”
Fox Motorsport battled for a podium position in a gruelling Dubai 24 Hours, only to be denied a deserved result when they lost a wheel at three-quarters distance. Drivers Jamie Stanley, Glenn Sherwood, Ben Clucas and Andy Perry recovered to finish sixth in the hotly-contested GT4 category in the GWS Motorsport-supported Audi R8 LMS GT4 run by the team from Maldon, Essex. The event started badly with Andy being hit by a GT3 car during pre-race testing on Wednesday and sustaining major front-end damage.
Thanks to Audi Sport flying out spare parts from Germany overnight and some incredible work by the Fox mechanics, the car was repaired in time to head back out for Thursday practice, set top-six times, and then qualify 10th – just a second from pole - in Ben’s hands. Jamie started the German machine, rising to fourth by the end of the opening hour - despite the car being badly effected by the series Balance of Performance (BoP) measures - and setting the tone for the first stints of Andy, Glenn and Ben.
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