Brno: Round four race report

A close, hot and exciting race in Brno, in front of packed grandstands, saw Bobbi and Biagi give BMS Scuderia Italia its fourth win of the season, in the nr 23 Ferrari 550 Maranello. Despite 100 kg penalty weight, and although they were not the...

A close, hot and exciting race in Brno, in front of packed grandstands, saw Bobbi and Biagi give BMS Scuderia Italia its fourth win of the season, in the nr 23 Ferrari 550 Maranello. Despite 100 kg penalty weight, and although they were not the fastest car on the track, a problem-free race and two excellent pit stops saw the two young Italians emerge victorious for the fourth race in succession. They were followed by Deletraz and Piccini, in the nr 15 Lister Storm, Gollin and Cappellari in the nr 22 BMS Ferrari and Campbell-Walter and Kinch in the nr 14 Lister, all three cars racing within a few seconds of each other for the final half an hour. In N-GT, reigning Champion Ortelli and his team-mate Marc Lieb finally put their bad luck behind them to take their first win of the season. After a close battle with the nr 52 JMB Ferrari at the start, they pulled away and took a comfortable win, ahead of current Championship points leaders Bertolini and De Simone, with Team Maranello Concessionaires drivers Mullen and Davies in third.

Fourth win for Bobbi, Biagi and BMS Scuderia Italia

Thomas Biagi and Matteo Bobbi continue to dominate the 2003 season of the FIA GT Championship, taking their fourth successive win, despite carrying 100 kg penalty weight in their Ferrari 550 Maranello. They now lead the Drivers Classification with 40 points, a 17-point lead over Andrea Piccini and Jean-Denis Deletraz, in second. Their win, added to the third-place finish for Gollin and Cappellari in the nr 22 car, means that BMS Scuderia Italia currently has a 23-point lead in the Teams points. "The team did an excellent job today, with great pit stops," Biagi said afterwards. "We were not fast over a single lap, but we were very consistent." He crossed the finish line, after 87 laps of the 5.403 km Brno circuit, with a lead of 31.056 over Deletraz and Piccini, in the nr 15 Lister .

Lieb and Ortelli win for Freisinger Motorsport

Having been consistently fast this season, the reigning N-GT Team Champion, Freisinger Motorsport, finally finished on the top of the podium, with Stéphane Ortelli and Marc Lieb repeating their 2002 Brno win in fine fashion, finishing the race in 9th position overall, 15 seconds ahead of the JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena of Bertolini and De Simone. "We are very happy with this win- we have proved that we are competitive, and when we can get to the end, we can win !" team manager Michel Hinterberg said. The nr 88 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 360 Modena of Davies and Mullen finished third, with the Pergusa-winning EMKA Racing Porsche in fourth place. The N-GT points situation is very close, with De Simone and Bertolini leading the Drivers by three points over Mullen and Davies, with Ortelli and Lieb third on 18 points. In the Teams Classification, Team Maranello Concessionaires have a one-point lead over JMB Racing, with Freisinger only seven points behind the leader.

The GT Race

As in Pergusa, the nr 2 Saleen S7-R, in the hands of pole-setter Jean-Marc Gounon, set a commanding pace at the start, pulling away from the nr 14 Lister Storm in a way that Jamie Campbell-Walter described as 'like a rocket'.

The Frenchman set the fastest lap of the race on the second lap, and continued to pull away, ending his stint with a lead of over 15 seconds. Gounon handed over to Toni Seiler, but an excellent pit-stop from the nr 23 BMS Ferrari, which had been lying third, took it into the lead. On lap 45, Nathan Kinch, in the nr 14 Lister, overtook the Saleen for second place.

However, shortly afterwards, the young Lister driver spun on some oil on the track, dropping back down the grid. With the nr 2 Konrad Saleen also suffering problems, this left the nr 23 BMS car with a large gap. The nr 15 Lister Storm moved up to second, followed by the nr 22 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello. Campbell-Walter got back in the nr 14 Lister, and began to charge up the field, as the fastest man on the track. With 40 minutes of the race left, he was 22 seconds behind Gollin. He closed to within 4 seconds, but dropped back on the final lap, realising he was unable to move up to third. At the same time, a colossal battle was going on between Piccini and Gollin for second, with the gap between the two rarely more than two seconds for the whole of the final stint.

Matteo Bobbi took the chequered flag ahead of Piccini in the nr 15 Lister, with Gollin third in the nr 22 Ferrari. Campbell-Walter, in the nr 14 Lister, took fourth, with the nr 21 Care Racing Ferrari in fifth. The Creation Autosportif Lister Storm continued its consistent point-scoring record with sixth place for Verdon-Roe and Zadra. This mean that the top six places included three Ferrari 550 Maranello cars and three Lister Storms. The Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7-R cars finished in seventh and eighth places, but the nr 7 car of Erdos and Newton was later excluded due to a fuel-tank problem. This elevated the nr 8 car to seventh, and the nr 11 Roos-Optima Chrysler Viper GTS-R took the final point for eighth.

The N-GT Race

Andrea Bertolini, in the nr 52 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena, made the best start, taking the lead ahead of pole-setter Ortelli in the Freisinger Porsche. However, by lap 6, Ortelli regained the lead, after an excellent, clean battle between the two drivers. Bertolini, suffering from tyre problems, dropped back, with the nr 61 EMKA Porsche and the two Team Maranello Concessionaires cars moving up behind the leading Freisinger Porsche. After the pit stops, the nr 52 began to recover, and Fabrizio De Simone brought the car back up to second place. The nr 89 Ferrari had a long pit stop and dropped out of contention, leaving the nr 88 in third place ahead of the EMKA Porsche. Although local hero Tomas Enge was setting some fast laps when he took over from Robert Pergl, he was not able to move higher than fifth.

After the three hours of racing, Ortelli crossed the line with a lead of 15 seconds over the nr 52 JMB Racing Ferrari, with the nr 88 TMC Ferrari third. Sugden and Short took a fine fourth in the nr 61EMKA Porsche. The second Freisinger Porsche of Gardel and Longin was sixth, while Team Eurotech placed its two Porsche 996 GT3-RS cars in seventh and eighth. Gerold and Christian Ried, in their first race in the new Proton Competition Porsche 996 GT3-RS, finished just outside the points in ninth place.

NOTES AND QUOTES

Tomas Biagi - nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia : "The team did a great job today, with excellent pit stops. I think my career experience helped me a lot today, as I saw the oil and shifted down, and I was able to stay on the track. We had excellent tyres from Michelin today, which were very consistent. We took care of the car, as it was not easy with 100 kg. We were not fast over a single lap, but we were very consistent. We are leading the Championship, but I am looking at this race by race, as there is still a long way to go and many races, especially the 24 Hours of Spa. But this is a nice moment, and I am enjoying it, as tomorrow I will start working hard again for the next race !"

Marco Streparava - Team Manager BMS Scuderia Italia : "We are slightly surprised with our result, as we are not as fast as the Saleen or the Lister, but we have worked hard for this, and we had an absolutely fantastic pit stop which allowed the nr 23 to gain two positions. That is team work ! We have to thank Michelin for their support, as this seemed to be a Dunlop race. We have worked hard to lead the Championship, and it is fantastic."

Andrea Piccini - nr 15 Lister Storm - 2nd in GT : "I am happy with the race result - we couldn't have done better. But now we know what's wrong with the engine, and it should be good for Donington. The top speed was our only problem, the car and set-up were good, and we were very happy with the tyres. This meant I could push throughout the stint. It was a great finish, very close and exciting. Donington is a Lister circuit, and we are currently second in the Championship, so it should be good !"

Fabrizio Gollin - nr 22 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello - 3rd in GT : "It was a very exciting end to the race, just like last year. And just like last year, I finished in third position. But I am happy with the result, and we were lucky because the Lister was very fast here. I worked a lot this weekend for the rest of the season. We tried a lot of things to make the car faster for the future, because we know that the competition is also very fast."

Jamie Campbell-Walter - nr 14 Lister Storm - 4th in GT : "We had a very good car today, but unfortunately Nathan had a spin. It was a shame, but that's racing. We have to put it down to inexperience. He then did a fantastic job to recover. It's all part of the learning process. Without that spin, I am sure we would have been able to challenge for the win, as everything was fantastic. The end of the race was really close; I backed off on the last lap as I knew I could not catch Gollin. We know we can definitely win races, things have not gone our way so far, but Spa and Donington could be much better - and at least we scored points."

Gordon Davies - team manager, Graham Nash Motorsport - 7th in GT: "It was a tough race. Pedro had his qualifying tyres on at the start, and they just didn't work, so we brought him in to change them early. Then the wind caught an air hose, which hooked on the rear wing and broke a bracket of the boom. We then came in again to check the brake lights. After that, we started to push. The drivers worked really hard for the team, and to finish 7th is a good result for the team, especially after all their hard work - working on the car after the Pergusa crash and changing an engine yesterday. It's a full team effort from the top downwards."

Jean-Marc Gounon - nr 2 Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7-R - 10th in GT : "The car was excellent today at the start, and I really pulled away. It was perfect. Then during Toni's stint he had problems with the gear level, and then we had engine problems. It was a shame - but we'll fight again next time !"

Mauro Casadei - nr 12 Proton Porsche 911 GT2 - DNF : "I lost a rear wheel at high speed, in 5th gear. It was a very big moment^Å"

Stephane Ortelli - nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport - 1st in N-GT : "We really pushed hard all weekend; we had to, as our fuel consumption is not as good as last year. I made a safe start, and lost two places, but it was not too long until I was back in the front, and managed to pull out a good gap for Marc. He did an excellent job during his stint, and he has really improved since we won together here in Brno last year."

Michael Hinterberg - team manager, Freisinger Motorsport : "We are very happy with this win- we have proved that we are competitive, and when we can get to the end, we can win ! It is very close this year, especially with the new points system, which makes it very hard to catch up when you fail to finish. But we are optimistic ! We had a very tough race at Brno last year, when we also won, and this year was easier. We hope we will be in good shape for the UK. There is an excellent spirit between Ortelli and Lieb. But I think the key point of this season will be Spa."

Andrea Bertolini - nr 52 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena - 2nd in N-GT : "This race was good for the Championship. My first stint was very good, and I had a very clean fight with Stephane. However, I had a problem with the first set of tyres, but it was fine after we changed. Fabrizio had a good stint, and then my final stint was very quick. With the new points, it is very important to score at each race. The N-GT category is very, very close, and I think Spa is going to be extremely interesting."

Tim Mullen - nr 88 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 360 Modena - 3rd in N-GT : "We had big problems during free practice and qualifying, so this is a very good result for the Championship. The circuit was quite similar to Barcelona in the way that the car handled, and we had no grip. We have a lot of work to do, but now we have the time to do it before the next race in Donington." The nr 89 car had a linkage problem in the gearbox, which lost them a lot of time. "The team did a good job to put it back together, but it has been another difficult weekend," Darren Turner explained.

Tomas Enge - nr 57 MENX Ferrari 550 Maranello - 5th in N-GT: "I am very happy to see the chequered flag again after two non-finishes ! We had some oversteer today, but apart from that the car was fine. I pushed quite hard, but although we had tried for a one-stop strategy, the situation was quite marginal, so we decided to do a splash-and-dash and play it safe. I have to thank our many fans for their support today ! It's our best result so far, so it's very good for the team on home ground, considering the pressure. We 'll carry on working hard and see what happens next race."

Mike Jordan - nr 74 Team Eurotech Porsche 996 GT3-RS - 8th in N-GT : "It seems a bit sad to be pleased to finish - but considering our car was still overheating, I am amazed that we got to the end. The temperature was rising after just 10 minutes. So I am grateful for the point for 8th ! "

Stephane Daoudi - nr 99 RWS Yukos Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS - 13th in N-GT: "The driveshaft broke today. It was a shame after the work the team put in to change the engine in just one hour after the morning warm-up. But it is a great shame - we have everything in place to get a good result - a good car, a good team, a good line up, but we just can't get to the chequered flag."

-fia-

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Andrea Piccini , Tomas Enge , Fabrizio Gollin , Darren Turner , Stéphane Ortelli , Matteo Bobbi , Jamie Campbell-Walter , Jean-Denis Deletraz , Toni Seiler , Marc Lieb , Mauro Casadei , Christian Ried , Jean-Marc Gounon , Andrea Bertolini , Nathan Kinch , Tim Mullen , Thomas Biagi , Robert Pergl , Mike Jordan
Teams Proton Competition