LAMY AND GARDEL WIN IN THE WET AT BRNO ! LIEB AND ROCKENFELLER VICTORIOUS IN GT2 As always, the Automotodrom Brno gave the FIA GT Championship an exciting race, made even more unpredictable by the weather, with a heavy shower drenching the track...
LAMY AND GARDEL WIN IN THE WET AT BRNO !
LIEB AND ROCKENFELLER VICTORIOUS IN GT2
As always, the Automotodrom Brno gave the FIA GT Championship an exciting race, made even more unpredictable by the weather, with a heavy shower drenching the track mid-race. The challenging circuit saw victory go to Larbre Competition - which has finished on the podium at every race it has contested at the Czech circuit. Pedro Lamy and Gabriele Gardel took their second joint win of the season, to propell Gardel into the Championship lead for the very first time. A varied podium saw JMB Racing's Maserati of Wendlinger and Bertolini take second, after a spirited race up from the back of the grid, while GPC Sport claimed its first podium finish of the year. In GT2, Marc Lieb made it three out of three in Brno when he and Mike Rockenfeller were victorious in their GruppeM Porsche, ahead of the Austrian team Renauer Motorsport, with a Porsche driven by Wolfgang Kaufmann, Manfred Jurasz and Petr Valek, and Czech team Vonka Racing third for Vonka and Casadei. Originally a fine second, the nr 86 GPC Ferrari was excluded due to ground clearance problems. Larbre Competition has never finished lower than second in Brno, and 2005 proved to be no exception. The Ferrari 550 Maranello, owned by and run in collaboration with Care Racing, and driven by Gabriele Gardel and Pedro Lamy, was running well in the early stages of the race, but really came to the fore when it started to rain. Gardel took the lead, pulling out a healthy margin. Handing back over to Lamy for the final stint, the car crossed the finish line with a lead of 58 seconds over the second-placed car, the nr 15 Maserati MC 12 of Bertolini and Wendlinger, which had started from the back due to an engine change. This second win of the season has placed Gardel in the lead of the Drivers Championship, the first time the Swiss driver has been in this position. "I do not want to say that I've taken the lead of the Championship - we've taken the lead, as I share the car with Pedro, and with Fabrizio Gollin in Silverstone, so it's for them too," Gardel said. Team Owner Jack Leconte was delighted : "I love Brno ! We have a good result in the Championship, we are leading, and we are now heading for Spa, which is also a very good place for Larbre."
FROM THE BACK TO THE PODIUM FOR JMB RACING
After suffering a major crash on Friday in Free Practice, the nr 15 JMB Racing Maserati MC 12 bounced back, following plenty of work from the team, to take second place in qualifying. However, an engine problem relegated the car to the back of the grid. But the car quickly recovered, being up in 8th place by lap 15. Steady driving in the rain saw the car move into second place, which it kept until the flag. "I am very pleased with the result," Karl Wendlinger said. "I gained some time in my stint, and was able to give the car back to Andrea in second position. It was a very good race considering we started last, and after having all those problems in free practice.
We are very happy, we had a very good pit strategy, we had good stops and always had the right tyres at the right time - perhaps we were a little lucky too." FOUR PLACES - FOUR DIFFERENT CARS GPC's Ferrari 575 M Maranello claimed its best result yet, the nr 3 car of Melo and Belloc taking third place, making up for their disappointment in Imola. With the Corvette C5-R of GLPK Carsport finishing fourth, this means that the top four places were taken by four different cars, representing three different manufacturers. "This is a fantastic result for us," Belloc said. "Jaime did a fantastic job in his stint; it is really good to be back on the podium."
LIEB AND ROCKENFELLER WIN IN GT2
Marc Lieb and Mike Rockenfeller retained the lead of the GT2 Championship with another fine win for the young German duo. "This is my third race here and my third win in the GT2 category," Lieb commented afterwards. "We were a little bit lucky today, as the other car had problems in its second stint. Mike did a good result on intermediate tyres, and I just had to bring the car home. We are looking forward to Spa, and hope we'll have a good race - it will be a close fight with our sister car." The nr 66 GruppeM Racing Porsche 996 GT3-RSR started well, pushed hard in the early stages by the team's second car, the nr 88 Porsche of Collard and Sugden. In the rain, the nr 88 moved into the lead, with the Porsche overtaking GT1 cars in the damp track conditions. However, an overheating engine took the nr 88 out of the race, leaving the nr 66 with a clear run to the end. Second across the line was the nr 86 GPC Sport Ferrari 360 Modena of Belgian drivers Lemeret and Deman, after an excellent performance. However, the car was later excluded due to failing the ground clearance test. This promoted the nr 63 Renauer Motorsport team to second, a good result for the Austrian team on what is effectively its home race, and a first podium for Manfred Jurasz, who has been competing in the Championship since the very start in 1997.
Vonka Racing, fourth across the line after an excellent race for the small Czech team, were promoted to third for their home race. They were followed by Gerold and Christian Ried in the Proton Porsche the AutoRacing Club Bratislava Porsche of Konopka and Studenic, the Ebimotors Porsche of Moccia and Busnelli, suffering from an alternator problem, with the final points going to JMB Racing Ferrari 360 of Peter Kutemann and Antoine Gosse, making a fine return to the Championship.
MOSLER GOES WELL IN THE RAIN
The nr 101 Mosler, the sole competitor in the G2 class at Brno, put in a good performance to cross the line behind the GruppeM Porsche and win the G2 cup. "Jamie did very well, the car was faultless and we were very pleased to be second behind the Gruppe M car," Shaun Balfe said. "I am really enjoying this season, and we hope to have some exciting news about Spa soon - perhaps we'll be doing more races than originally planned."
GOOD RESULT FOR LOCAL TEAMS
Local teams and drivers did well for their home race. Vonka Racing claimed its best result of the season on home ground in Brno. Running under the Czech National Team name, the small, friendly team and their Porsche 996 GT3-R crossed the line fourth in GT2, inheriting third after scrutineering. Drivers Mauro Casadei and Jan Vonka were delighted with the performance of their car, which ran faultlessly in the difficult conditions. Another Czech driver finished on the podium : Petr Valek, making his FIA GT debut with Renauer, alongside Woflgang Kaufmann and Manfred Jurasz, finished second in GT2. Autoracing Team Bratislava Slovakia's Porsche, driven by Miro Konopka and Andy Studenic, made up for their Imola disappointment with a fifth-place finish. In GT1, Jarek Janis was less lucky, as his Graham Nash Saleen was withdrawn with gear-box failure. European Hillclimb Champion Robert Senkyr was more fortunate in the nr 8 Saleen S7, finishing 10th in GT1 with the car he shared with Luca Pirri and Ryan Hooker
GT1 TEAMS CLASSIFICATION CLOSES UP; GRUPPE M PULL AHEAD IN GT2
After the fifth round of the Championship, Vitaphone Racing Team is still in the lead of the GT1 Teams Championship, with a margin of two points over JMB Racing. Larbre Competition is only 11 points behind. The next round in Spa will be vital, as double points are on offer, allocated after six, twelve and twenty-four hours. British team GruppeM now has a sixty point lead in the GT2 classification, having won all five races so far. Lieb and Rockenfeller have won three races to two for Collard and Sugden, giving the Germans a 15-point lead. Wolfgang Kaufmann, second today, is now lying third behind the Gruppe M driving pairs, with Gerold and Christian Ried one point behind him - making five Germans in the top seven drivers in GT2.
FIRST PODIUM FOR MANFRED JURASZ
Austrian driver Manfred Jurasz, at 61 the oldest man taking part in the 2005 FIA GT Championship, is currently 10th in the points classification. He has scored more points this year than in the rest of his FIA GT career put together. Having raced since the very start, he is delighted with his success, which he puts down to one thing : his new team-mate, Wolfgang Kaufmann. The two expect to race together in the flyaway races at the end of the season as well.
PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES : WHAT THE WINNERS SAID !
Winner GT1 : nr 11 Larbre Competition Ferrari 550 Maranello
Pedro Lamy : "The rain was the secret of Larbre's success today. The tyres were perfect during the race. We were always faster in the stints. Gabriele did a great job in the wet. The conditions were bad and he was really fast. We'll next be at Spa, where the weather can also be difficult.."
Gabriele Gardel : " The team did a very good job. I have to thank Michelin especially, as I can't drive like this with other tyres. Thanks to Pedro and everybody. The conditions were really not that bad for us - our car was well balanced so I could be consistent with good lap times."
2nd in GT1 : nr 15 JMB Racing Maserati MC 12
Andrea Bertolini : "It's a good result as we started from the back and finished second. It was a very strange race, but good for us. The Pirelli intermediate tyres were very good. Karl's stint in the middle of the race was very fast. I had a little problem with the front, and wanted to check the car, but it was OK."
Karl Wendlinger : "I am very pleased with the result. I gained some time in my stint, and was able to give the car back to Andrea in second position. It was a very good race considering we started last, and after having all those problems in free practice. We are very happy, we had a very good pit strategy, we had good stops and always had the right tyres at the right time - perhaps we were a little lucky too."
3rd in GT1 : nr 3 GPC Sport Ferrari 575 M Maranello
Jaime Melo : "I like this circuit very much. I would like to thank GPC, Ferrari and Pirelli who did a very good job. I got a very good start and tried to be constant. The car was not bad. We need to work a lot to try to improve even more for the next race. But I am satisfied with this third place. In the end, I lost some time behind another car, perhaps without that I could have caught Bertolini, but third place is still good."
Jean-Philippe Belloc : "This is a fantastic result for us, to finish on the podium. Jaime did a fantastic job in his stint; as for me, it was quite good but I lost a lot of time at the beginning as I lost my confidence a bit in the wet, so I was a bit disappointed to be two seconds down. But it is good to be back on the podium.
Winner, GT2 : nr 66 Gruppe M Porsche 996 GT3-RSR
Mike Rockenfeller : "Marc came in when it started raining, and suggested intermediate tyres. I tried my best, but it was very difficult. We couldn't compare whether intermediates or rain tyres were best as our sister car did not finish. But we are really happy with the result."
2nd GT2 : Renauer Motorsport Team Porsche 996 GT3-RS
Wolfgang Kaufmann : "It's nice to be back again on the podium, after the problems we have had. At the beginning it was not easy. It's really nice to have had two podium finishes out of three races this season."
Petr Valek : "I had a very good day. It's my first FIA GT race and my first podium. I was very concentrated and had a good race."
Manfred Jurasz : "I have been driving in the FIA GT Championship for six years with no podiums - then I drove with Wolfgang and get on the podium. I am very pleased.
Winner G2 : Balfe Motorsport Mosler MT 900R
Shaun Balfe : "Jamie did very well, the car was faultless and we were very pleased to be second behind the Gruppe M car. I am really enjoying this season, and we hope to have some exciting news about Spa soon - perhaps we'll be doing more races than originally planned."
Originally 2nd GT2 :
Loïc Deman : GPC Sport Ferrari 360 Modena "This is our first FIA GT race this year," Deman said. "We were here to prepare the 24 Hours. We got on well with the team, and got to know them all, which I think is a very good idea. I would like to thank the whole team and Pirelli of course."