Official Test at Paul Ricard Circuit
2nd April 2007
Rob was back behind the wheel of his Virgo Motorsport Ferrari 430 GT2 last week. It was the Official LeMans Series Test held at the Paul Ricard High Technology Test Track, in the south of France. It was Rob’s first opportunity to drive with his team mate for the season Allan Simonsen and also a chance to assess the competition.
“I know Allan from my karting days, I’ve also worked with him on some corporate and track events. It’s the first time we’ve been on the track with our rivals this year and it’ll be good to finally see what the opposition have been up to during the winter.”
Day One: It had rained the night before the test so the track was damp in the morning and this delayed any useful testing until 10.30am. Continuing on from their Estoril testing, Dunlop were on hand with more new development tyres. The whole of the first day was dedicated to Dunlop and deciding which tyres would best suit the first round of the series at Monza on 14th and 15th April.
At the end of the day Rob was 3rd fastest, 0.5 seconds behind the two Porsches and just unable to break the 2.00 minute barrier with a time of 2.00.04. Rob had this to say about day one; “Today was all about tyre work, the guy’s at Dunlop have been working hard to find the right compound and construction. We ended up third on the time sheets and we haven’t started work on finding the best balance for the car”.
Day two: Rob and Allan split the tyre work on day two with Rob finishing the short runs first thing and Allan completing a full race stint before lunch. This was to test the durability of the tyres. The afternoon focused on set up work with race engineer Steve Bunkhall. At the end of day 2, the Virgo Ferrari was 2nd on the time sheets, 0.3 seconds behind the Pirelli shod Porsche of Richard Leitz.
The feeling in the Virgo camp was that the test had been a success. Team Manager, Chris Warne had said he was “very happy with both of his drivers”. Chief engineer, Steve Bunkhall commented, “its good that both drivers felt good in the car and seemed well matched.”
Rob’s summary of the day was that “the most encouraging part of the test was that we appear to have found a good tyre for Monza. It will be great to start the campaign with a strong result.”
IMSA Porsche 1.58.42
Virgo Ferrari 1.58.77
Felbermayr Porsche 1.29.63