Despite a spectacularly wet start to the fifth round of the 2002 FIA GT Championship, which saw the three-hour event run behind the safety car for the first 54 minutes, Jean-Denis Deletraz and Andrea Piccini scored their second win of the season...
Despite a spectacularly wet start to the fifth round of the 2002 FIA GT Championship, which saw the three-hour event run behind the safety car for the first 54 minutes, Jean-Denis Deletraz and Andrea Piccini scored their second win of the season in their nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello, and maintained Ferrari's record at this circuit after two victories in the 1990s. This result moves them to fifth position in the Drivers Classification, just three points behind Jamie Campbell-Walter, Nicolaus Springer, David Terrien and Christophe Bouchut, who are all tied at the head of the table on 24 points. Ortelli and Collard gave a command performance in the N-GT category, to give Freisinger Motorsport its third consecutive win, and bring them closer to the leaders, JMB Racing's Italian duo of Pescatori and Montermini. The season has now reached its mid-point; however, the distance to be covered by the cars in the second half will be significantly greater, as it will include the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa.
Wet, with brief dry periods in between heavy showers.
Fabio Babini set fastest time in the warm-up session in his nr 12 Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper GTS-R. His time of 1:46.296 was two-tenths of a second faster than the nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello of Andrea Piccini and Jean-Denis Deletraz. Stephane Ortelli was fastest in the N-GT category and was sixth fastest overall in the nr 54 Freisinger Porsche 996 GT3-R, more than 2.5 seconds faster than the second-placed JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena of Batti Pregliasco, Iradj Alexander and Peter Kutemann. That car was 11th fastest overall. The nr 2 Larbre Competition Chrysler Viper GTS-R of Carl Rosenblad and Vincent Vosse completed only one lap in the warm-up, the team having worked overnight to repair the damage caused when Vosse went off in the first qualifying session on Saturday morning.
FERRARI RACES TO OVERALL WIN
Ferrari raced to its second successive victory in the FIA GT Championship, Andrea Piccini and Jean-Denis Deletraz beating the Chrysler Viper GTS-Rs of David Terrien and Christophe Bouchut in the nr 1 Larbre Competition car, and Anthony Kumpen and Mike Hezemans in the nr 3 Carsport Holland car. The Ferrari took the lead in the second hour after 54 minutes behind the pace car due to the weather conditions, and held it to the end of the race. The sister car of Enzo Calderari and Lilian Bryner finished fifth overall, the first time that both of the BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranellos have finished in the points.
LARBRE TAKE CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD
Christophe Bouchut and David Terrien took second position overall and with the six points earned move into the equal lead of the drivers' championship with Jamie Campbell-Walter and Nicolaus Springer. The Larbre pair made up significant time on the leaders when the team changed just the left-side tyres at their only pit stop of the race. Terrien emerged from the pits ahead of the Ferrari, but was forced to concede the position and finished more than 20 seconds behind. Vosse and Rosenblad recovered from their starting position at the back of the grid to finish in sixth place and claim an extra point for Larbre Competition Chereau, which has now overtaken Lister Storm Racing in the Teams Classification.
THIRD AND FOURTH FOR CARSPORT HOLLAND
The Carsport Holland team came away from Anderstorp with third and fourth positions under their belts, Anthony Kumpen and Mike Hezemans taking advantage of the wet weather to take the final podium position. Kumpen stepped aboard the nr 3 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R mid-race without taking on new tyres, and took them through to the end of the race. However, both drivers believed that their car was off the pace of the front-runners having been repaired over the weekend following Kumpen's crash on Friday. Fabrizio Gollin and Luca Capellari were fourth in their example, Gollin having challenged at the front before handing to his Italian co-driver for the second half of the three-hour event.
NO POINTS FOR LISTER
The Lister Storm team did not score points this weekend, despite having two cars starting in the top three positions. Jamie Campbell-Walter led away from pole position but, under pressure from Piccini's nr 23 Ferrari 550 Maranello, went off as a result of the brake bias problem that has troubled him all weekend. Campbell-Walter and his co-driver Nicolaus Springer still lead the championship for drivers, level on points with Bouchut and Terrien. Paul Knapfield started the race in the nr 15 Lister Storm Racing Lister Storm, but suffered two spins in the very wet conditions at the start of the race, and retired.
ORTELLI MOVES WITHIN FIVE POINTS OF LEADERS
Stephane Ortelli has moved to within five points of the championship lead after winning his third race in succession in the nr 54 Freisinger Porsche 996 GT3R. The Monaco-based Frenchman has won each with a different co-driver and this weekend was sharing with Emmanuel Collard. Collard started the race, and led as he handed to Ortelli who never lost the lead of the class. The pair finished eighth overall. The second car of Stephane Daoudi and Bert Longin finished eighth in class after a problem with the windscreen wipers robbed the drivers of vision and forced Daoudi off-track twice.
POINTS FOR JMB
The JMB Racing team managed two cars into the top six of the N-GT class, Andrea Garbagnati and Andrea Bertolini racing to second position in class in their nr 51 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena. Championship leaders Christian Pescatori and Andrea Montermini finished fourth in the nr 50 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena, the first time this season that they have not finished either first or second. Their three points means that they keep a five-point gap to Ortelli in the drivers' championship.
LECHNER THIRD FOR AUTORLANDO
Walter Lechner Jr, the German is replacing Philipp Peter in the nr 58 Autorlando Porsche 996 GT3R for this race only, was delighted to come away with a podium position in the car that he shared with Austrian Toto Wolff. Wolff, who borrowed Marc Duez's overalls for the race as his were lost in transit to Sweden, moves to sixth in the championship ahead of Jurgen von Gartzen and Ian Khan, von Gartzen retiring in the second hour with accident damage to the nr 60 JVG Racing Porsche 996 GT3R. The pair started near the back of the grid after their car refused to start in the qualifying session, but made their way through the pack.
FIRST POINTS FOR CIRTEK MOTORSPORT
For the first time this season, both Porsche 996 GT3-R cars entered by British team Cirtek Motorsport managed to finish in the points, with Liddell and Nielsen salvaging fifth after a collision with a JMB Ferrari and the Italian duo of Sangiuolo and Pichler sixth, giving the team a total of three points.
NO POINTS FOR RWS MOTORSPORT
RWS Motorsport failed to score today, despite both their cars being in the points for much of the race. Antonio Garcia was in second place in N-GT for much of his two-hour stint, chasing the nr 54 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-R, but his team-mate Michele Merendino crashed out shortly after taking the car. The nr 77 car was also in the top six for quite some time but dropped back to ninth place after a spin.
NOTES AND QUOTES
Andrea Piccini, nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello, 1ST GT: "The start of the stint was quite boring because the Safety Car was out for a long time. As soon as that went in, the Lister in front of me went off, I think that he had a problem because he went straight. I was quite careful because normally you cannot overtake under yellows, but he was off the track so I had to pass him. The car was good, so I could push hard. Then the other Lister did the same thing and I was leading. The car was good, and the tyres were very good, even when it was dry."
Jean-Denis Deletraz, nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello, 1st GT: "Because the Larbre team changed just two tyres, I was second for a while, but then I overtook Terrien. The tyres and the car were really very good. Every time the pace car was out, I had a few N-GT cars between me and the others so I was not worried for the restarts. This car is very good at every track so we will see at Oschersleben. I would say to the others in the championship that they should be worried!"
Christophe Bouchut, nr 1 Larbre Competition Chrysler Viper GTS-R, 2nd GT: "It was very difficult to stay behind the safety car, even at low speed. Everyone had problems in a straight line and it was very hard to see where to brake. The car was very good, and it was possible to overtake, easy to pass when the race got underway and we were very happy. In these conditions it is very easy to miss the opportunities, and we took our opportunity. When I saw the nr 14 Lister go out, I immediately saw that it was a great opportunity to take the lead of the championship."
David Terrien, nr 1 Larbre Competition Chrysler Viper GTS-R, 2nd GT: "We had a very good strategy because Jack Leconte only changed the left tyres so we saved a lot of time in the pits. When I started my stint it started to rain so I was not very confident, but then I realised I could drive OK. In the last few laps we had some problems at the rear because the right tyres did the whole race. The Ferrari was lucky that the rain came back because I was a little quicker towards the end."
Anthony Kumpen, nr 3 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R, 3rd GT: "We had a big accident on Friday and we only did a few laps during qualifying. Because of the accident the car was damaged too much to set the car up properly. Under the circumstances this was the best result possible. The car was quite slow and we had no grip whatsoever so it was a good result for us."
Mike Hezemans, nr 3 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R, 3rd GT: "I have never driven so slowly in all my life! To come third was unbelievable. We were going nowhere. When it was raining I was doing 1m45s laps, and when it was dry I was doing exactly the same times. There was no speed coming from the car. I also went off once. It is funny, when we are quick we don't finish, and when we are slow we are on the podium!"
Enzo Calderari, nr 22 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello, 5th GT : "The race was good for use, although we had a problem with a loose fuse on the heated windscreen, which meant that visibility was extremely bad. When it was relatively dry, it was OK; but in the rain, it was awful. I think we were rather unlucky, and without that problem we could have finished higher. However, we are very happy to have finished in the points for the first time. The car is very good; the team has adapted well, after receiving the cars just before the first race. I think we can really now start to aim for the Championship. But Spa is going to be difficult, as I don't think the car yet has the reliability for a 24 hour race."
Vincent Vosse, nr 2 Larbre Competition Chrysler Viper GTS-R -- 6th GT: "It was a tough race and I just took a lot of care not to go off. I didn't know the race order, but I was a lap down at the end. I don't know how that happened. It was wet in the car, very wet."
Kurt Mollekens, nr 25 PSI Motorsport Porshce 996 Turbo -- 9th GT : "The engine kept cutting out, I had only 10 volts in the battery so I was having to change gear at 5000rpm so it was hopeless, I couldn't do anything. The car was understeering, we had no engine power, the Porsche GT3Rs were faster than me on the straight, so there was nothing we could do."
Jamie Campbell-Walter, nr 14 Lister Storm - DNF : "I'd had a brake balance problem all weekend, and the front brakes were locking up a lot in the early stages. So I wound it back, and then the rear brakes started locking, and the Ferrari caught right up with me. It seemed OK, but then it wound forwards and I lost the front and went into the mud, which was unbelievable. When they pulled me out, the car wouldn't restart. Still, despite not scoring any points for the first time this season, we're still joint leaders of the Championship at the half-way point, so we can't really complain. I don't think we would have won anyway, as most of the teams did only one stop, and I don't think Nicolaus would have wanted to do a long stint, so we would have had to make two stops. With this long and slow pit lane, we would have lost out massively anyway."
Paul Knapfield, nr 15 Lister Storm - DNF: "I'd never been out in the rain, so it was all new to me, and I dropped back. I was improving my times and made up some places, but I also made a couple of mistakes, and then spun out. I had to go out in the rain sometime, so today was as good as any time. This was my first start in the Lister, for which I have to thank my team-mate, who didn't get a chance to drive today."
Stephane Ortelli, nr 54 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3R, 1st N-GT : "The first time I heard Emmanuel on the radio he said that it was boring behind the safety car. When I got in I could control the race, and that is what I did during my stint. I was quite confident when the safety car was out. When it came in, we lost all of our advantage, so now I am very pleased with my result."
Emmanuel Collard, nr 54 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3R, 1st N-GT: "I was surprised because the car was very good, and I could overtake some of the GT cars. I was worried because I spent time behind a GT2 Porsche. I was faster in the corners but he was faster in a straight line, and that made it very difficult in the rain. It is too easy to make a mistake, which is why I was very careful on the brakes."
Toto Wolff, nr 58 Autorlando Sport Porsche 996 GT3R, 3rd N-GT: "I think we had a lot of luck during the race, the luck that we have not had all weekend. Our engine would not start during qualifying so we had to start at the back of the grid. We were a bit worried behind the safety car, when it came out. Walter was driving like a sprint race because he was passing cars in an incredible way, so I am really happy with third."
Walter Lechner, nr 58 Autorlando Sport Porsche 996 GT3R, 3rd N-GT: "Toto told me on the radio to go and do a sprint race so I pushed very hard. Every time I went past the pits we were in a higher position and I thought that we could make it onto the podium. It was like a formula race, because I was driving at 110 per cent and I went off in one corner. Maybe I put in a little too much effort!"
Stephane Daoudi, nr 55 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3R, : "It was very unlucky because we had a problem with the windscreen wipers. It was impossible to see anything in a straight line and I went off the road twice. It was very disappointing because the car was very fast with the Dunlop rain tyres."
John Nielsen, n 62 Cirtek Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3R: - 5th in N-GT [On the accident with Iradj Alexander's JMB Competition Ferrari 360 Modena that cost him a potential podium position] "At the end of the straight, he just used me to brake. It really wasn't on. This was an endurance race, it is not a stock-car race. In the wet it doesn't take much to put you off the track. The water was at 130 or 140 degrees at the end, and it is in the parc ferme steaming like mad now."
Iradj Alexander, nr 53 JMB Competition Ferrari 360 Modena -- 12th in N-GT (On the same accident) : "It was my mistake . After the restart, I took the inside line into the corner. But my tyres were cold and I braked too late, and the car went straight. I was hoping that he might see that my tyres had locked up , but he kept on the normal line, and we crashed. I am really sorry. But it was still a really good race, as we started last from the pit lane, due to a technical problem, which meant that the pit lane was closed when we were ready, and we got up to third, so I am still happy."
Tony Ring, nr 52 JMB Ferrari -- 13th N-GT : "My team-mate Gianni had an accident in the warm-up and the car was only just mended in time for the race. He thought it was OK; but when he pushed, he spun out and lost three laps in the mud. When I took over, the windscreen wipers were not working, so I was counting the boards out of the side window. But then I miscounted, and when I turned, the track was not there ! So I lost another few laps while I was pulled out of the mud. But we finished the race, and I really enjoyed racing with JMB Competition this weekend."
Antonio Garcia, nr 77 RWS Porsche -- 14th N-GT: "I missed out at the start -- I was following Daoudi, and he was so slow that Liddell, in the nr 62 Porsche, came past us both on the outside. Then I started to make up time, up to third and then second. I tried to catch Collard but the set-up of the car was not perfect, so I was never really confident with the tyres, and I had a lot of understeer. I stayed in for two hours, trying to let Michele do as little as possible. The situation was very difficult for him, as he had only done the warm-up in the rain, and he spun off. He had been good in the dry, and if the weather had been good, I think we would have had a good fight with Collard and Ortelli. But I am getting closer to the nr 54 Porsche each time -- they should be afraid - we'll beat them yet !"