Phoenix Racing rises again The third round of the 2008 FIA GT Championship produced Michelin's third GT1 win of the season with yet another different partner. This time, it was Fabrizio Gollin and Mike Hezemans who took the...
Phoenix Racing rises again
The third round of the 2008 FIA GT Championship produced Michelin's third GT1 win of the season with yet another different partner. This time, it was Fabrizio Gollin and Mike Hezemans who took the spoils with the Phoenix Racing Corvette C6.R, ahead of the Maserati/Michelin of Bartels/Bertolini and Phoenix Racing's other Corvette/Michelin (Deletraz/Fassler). Ferrari AF Corse/Michelin collected a one-two in GT2, while Michelin runners monopolised the top nine places overall at the flag!
Prior to Adria, Phoenix Racing's best results with its Corvette C6.Rs since the start of the 2008 campaign were a fifth at Silverstone and a fourth place at Monza. However, this weekend saw them outclass their rivals to claim pole position at the Italian venue with Marcel Fassler, before going on to post the fastest race lap and secure victory with Gollin/Hezemans.
That said, it was the Vitaphone Racing Maserati MC12/Michelin of Bartels/Bertolini which set the pace for much of the race after moving ahead on Lap 4 at a time when the top-four were covered by just two seconds!
An hour into the race, after the first round of refuelling stops, Michael Bartels led the two Phoenix Racing machines, with a cushion of 1.111s over Deletraz and 6.863s over Hezemans, and these were the only three cars still seriously in contention for victory. The fourth car in the order - the Corvette/Michelin SRT of Xavier Maassen - was already more than 30s adrift, while the Jetalliance Racing Aston Martin (Wendlinger/Sharp) was parked up on the side of the track, and was imitated shortly afterwards by its sister car (transmission).
"I had a bit of trouble with the brakes," related Andrea Bertolini (Maserati/Michelin) after completing his stint. But we are still in the lead thanks in part to our Michelin tyres which are extremely consistent. The No.1 car was given a drive -through penalty a little later, however, and consequently had to pit once more than its rivals, which allowed the No.6 Corvette of Gollin/Deletraz through to take a somewhat fortunate win, especially since the car had been off into the gravel early in the race following a tangle with Wendlinger's Aston Martin. The last half-hour saw a thrilling contest between the Maserati and the No.5 Corvette, although the Phoenix Racing machine succeeded in shrugging off the pressure applied by Marcel Fassler to make it a resounding one -two finish for the team at the flag.
In GT2 category, the Porsche/Michelin of Collard/Westbrook took the lead thanks to a virile overtaking manoeuvre which enabled it to pass the AF Corse Ferrari/Michelin, but it then had to pit to change a faulty headlamp bulb. The car re-joined the race in fifth spot, a long way behind the two Michelin- equipped AF Corse Ferrari F430s and Bruni/Vilander went on to win ahead of Biagi/Montanari.
Fabrizio Gollin (winner, Corvette C6.R): "The 2008 championship is turning out to be very close and this was a great result. We had traction problems in free practice and pre-qualifying, so we modified our set-up for the race and that clearly worked. On top of that, our soft compound Michelin tyres were both competitive and durable."
Matthieu Bonardel, Manager of Michelin Competition's Four-Wheel Programme: "This is a great result for Michelin. Adria is a highly specific track, with lots of slow where you have to accelerate hard from low speeds. This tends to produce wheelspin and consequently rear tyre wear. You can compare it with an American street circuit. Our partners chose soft rubber and our tyres gave a good trade off between performance and durability, both in GT1 - which saw four different Michelin cars fighting for victory early on - and in GT2, in which Ferrari ran a soft tyre used at Le Mans."