Jonny Lang – Still Smiling On Monday
It’s been quite a fortnight for or so for Jonny Lang: on October 27 he (almost) discovered that he was the 2006 Avon Tyres British GT Cup Champion, with Matt Allison, while 16 days later, he and Martin Rich scored the maiden European win for Damax’s Ascari KZ1s, with the GTS Class win in the 130 minute International GT Open finale at Barcelona.

Almost discovered he was a British GT Champion?

“I was on holiday in Borneo, and Matt phoned me and left a message, from the British GT dinner: but I think he was a little worse for wear at the time, and I wasn’t sure whether he was telling me that we were the champions or we weren’t the champions. I flew back and it wasn’t until I arrived back in the UK that I was sure we’d won the appeal – and I was pretty jet-lagged by then, so it was an odd way to find out, finally, that we had won.”

Two weeks later, and the GP circuit at Barcelona: “60 cars and a crowd of 35,000, it was really buzzing. Starting the race was quite an experience.”

You can just about pick out the Ascari, behind the distinctive SEAT - with the yellow Lamborghini to the drivers' left of these two, in the middle of the track. Or is that the Ascari behind the yellow Gallardo?

Combined qualifying had seen Lang and Martin Rich just miss out on the class pole, to the Mik Corse Lamborghini Gallardo, but Lang was fastest in his session, and was thoroughly enjoying his first experience of the Ascari.

“It’s a fantastic car, very well balanced, a very good engine, and very quick and driveable, even when the oil went down.”

That was early on in the race – and conveniently, the oil came from the Lamborghini’s blown engine, the Italian car leading at the time.

“The Lamborghini scarpered off into the distance until just before the safety car period – to clean up its oil. James Ruffier had squeezed past me at the start in one of the Vipers, but I stayed right on his tail until our first driver change, at 30 minutes. The team had been a little concerned about the tyres if I pushed hard early on, so I was quite content to follow the Viper.

“It was a new experience for me to have to sit in the timing box for 30 seconds, and then to do the driver change as quickly as possible – but the system seems to work very well. Martin did a good job in the middle hour, and I jumped in for the last 30 minutes or so, with fresh tyres on the left side. The car was really good then, with a hint of oversteer rather than understeer. All I had to do was keep the 40 second gap back to the Viper, and that’s what it was at the flag. I had a big grin on my face for the last ten minutes – and I’m still grinning now. It was a fantastic way to finish the season.”

So what’s next?

“I’ve got several options for next year: in an ideal world I’d be racing in the European FIA GT3 Championship, and coming back to defend our title, with Matt Allison, in the British GT Championship. It all depends on sponsorship though.”

Clearly, the Ascari, and the Damax team, made a big impression on this man, new to GT racing at the start of the season.

“The whole Damax team was excellent, and they’d really thought out the fuel strategy.”

Last task for 2006 – actually early in 2007 – will be a ‘knees-up’ to celebrate the Trackspeed success in 2006.

“The way it finished, we couldn’t really celebrate the 1-2 in the Cup Class, but we’ll make up for it in January.“

By then, we should have a good idea of where this GT racer is going next year.

 

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