A delighted Devon Modell returned to the Blancpain Endurance Series Pro-Am podium, finishing second after an enthralling fight to the finish on home soil at Silverstone (14-15 May).
It was Oman Racing Team’s first visit to the Blancpain winners’ rostrum, and the result lifts the Kent-based outfit to second in the Teams’ and Drivers’ standings with a small three-point deficit to the current championship leaders, but it didn’t come easy.
In free practice, Modell and teammates Jonny Adam and Ahmad Al Harthy were primarily concerned with optimising their Aston Martin’s race setup, and the trio successfully homed in on a suitable compromise, despite being restricted to old tyres, carried over from Monza’s curtain-raiser.
However, backs were against the wall in qualifying when a wheel nut failure caused the right-rear wheel to fall off during Modell’s run.
A representative time had yet to be posted when Modell speared off the track at the entry to Brooklands, but Silverstone’s hardworking marshals were quick to recover the car and a rapid turnaround by the Motorbase Performance mechanics enabled Al Harthy and Adam to complete timed laps in Q2.
Remarkably, the session ended with the Oman Racing Aston Martin lying third in class and tenth overall, and it was Modell who would have to go up against some of the best GT drivers in the business at the start of the three-hour endurance race on Sunday (15 May).
His pace was strong and he did well to maintain third in class while surrounded by competitors from the championship’s headlining Pro division, and Al Harthy continued the good work during the second hour by recouping time lost in the pits and climbing back into the podium places.
Adam then rose as high as P2 prior to an extended full-course yellow, which bunched up the pack and instigated a nail-biting three-way battle for Pro-Am honours when racing resumed with approximately 20 minutes to run.
Positions were traded with the #56 Mercedes-Benz and the #24 Audi R8 LMS as the race approached its conclusion and Adam was third entering the final lap, when he pulled off an opportunistic passing move for P2, without power steering and with obscured vision as fluid leaked onto his windscreen.
Reflecting on the race, Modell said: “Ordinarily, we might have been slightly disappointed with second place, as a win was there for the taking, but it was a fantastic comeback by the Oman Racing Team after the problems in qualifying and we take a lot of pleasure from the result.
“This is the second solid result in a row and it’s a good platform to build on going to Circuit Paul Ricard and the big one, the Spa 24 Hours. I don’t think we could have asked for a better start to the 2016 Blancpain Endurance Series and being involved in the celebrations in the garage was incredible. The final ten minutes were tough to watch from the pits, but it was a great race for the spectators and it’s a real testament to the championship’s competitiveness that it came down to a five-lap battle at the end. “
The 2016 Blancpain Endurance Series resumes at Circuit Paul Ricard in the South of France on 24-25 June.