Image credit: MPhotographic.co.uk
SportscarGlobal columnist Devon Modell pulled further away in the race for the Hankook 24H Series’ SP3 title by taking his Speedworks Motorsport-run Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 to the podium for the fourth consecutive time in the 24 Hours of Circuit Paul Ricard last weekend.
Opening the weekend’s proceedings in free practice on Friday afternoon, Modell and teammates, John Gilbert, Steven Liquorish and Tony Hughes set the fourth fastest time (2m23.667s) in the SP3 category qualifying.
Devon was once again tasked with starting the race and carefully manage engine and tyre temperatures, with sweltering 40 degrees Celsius heat reigning over Southern France and scythed his way through the field at a circuit he has gotten to know quite well in previous months to snatch the SP3 class lead, as others struggled in the searing heat and fell by the wayside.
With everyone’s race pace four seconds off the expected times, Modell seemed to strike a balance between managing engine temperatures and driving as quickly as possible, before bringing the Speedworks Motorsport-run car into the pits for more fuel and handing the reins over to teammate, Liquorish.
Three laps into Liquorish’s stint an engine belt snapped, causing him to limp back to the pits, but. with the belt replaced, the Speedworks team was hit by more problems after what has been a near flawless season so far. This time, with a suspected bubble in the cooling system, the team opted to stop racing for several hours to bleed the system and cool the engine down.
As the sun began to set over France, Modell jumped back into the driver’s seat for his second stint and was able to push the car harder and faster than previously, setting times several tenths quicker than all his class rivals and several other competitors in the higher powered classes.
It was during his second stint in the night that engine temperature issues reared their ugly head once again, but with enough laps under their belts and a substantial gap to their fourth-placed rival, Modell and his teammates had done enough to secure third position without running the car for the remaining hours and potentially cause more damage to the Aston Martin’s V8 motor.
“I am disappointed not to have finished the race, as we are there to compete, but I am happy to have taken third in class and extend our lead at the top of the Drivers and Teams standings,” said Modell. “The heat over the weekend was a real issue, not just for us, but for a lot of the teams, and you really had to manage your engine temperatures while not losing too much time to the guys in front and behind. You couldn’t push the car hard, as it would simply overheat.
“It was better at night when the temperatures were a little cooler, so we were able to push and that’s when I was able to go quickest in class. If it wasn’t for the earlier belt snapping, I believe we could have been challenging for the lead, as we certainly had the pace in the car.
“It was an unfortunate way to end the race, as the car has run faultlessly throughout the season, but the team opted not to do any more damage to it and save as much as possible for the 24 Hours of Barcelona in September, where we could mathematically win the championship. We have to be on the podium there and it would be nice to wrap it up with a first, as we finished on the other two steps throughout the season.”