Victory at last for Fassler and Deletraz (Corvette/Michelin)! Despite having qualified three times so far this season on pole-position, the No.5 Phoenix Racing Corvette/Michelin of Fassler/Deletraz) had yet to win a race, but that...
Victory at last for Fassler and Deletraz (Corvette/Michelin)!
Despite having qualified three times so far this season on pole-position, the No.5 Phoenix Racing Corvette/Michelin of Fassler/Deletraz) had yet to win a race, but that situation was rectified at last this weekend through the streets of Bucharest which was playing host to the sixth round of the 2008 FIA GT Championship. CR Scuderia/Michelin also profited from the trip to Romania to claim its first win of the year in GT2, with Michelin topping both categories round this unique circuit.
For once, the weekend's programme featured not just one, but two races on a course that took competitors round the immense Palace of the Parliament and through the streets of the sun-baked Romanian capital. Indeed, the weekend was split into two contests, beginning with Saturday evening's so-called one-hour 'qualifying race', the result of which dictated the start order for the second 60-minute showdown on Sunday afternoon, with half the usual championship points being dished out.
Specific tyre regulations meant that the teams were forced to change at least two tyres in the course of both races. Our partners chose to change just two of their four tyres, reports Gerard Bombled, the Manager of Michelin's Endurance and FIA GT Programmes. "In GT1, they changed the rears, while the GT2 runners preferred to swap the fronts. Given the short format, we naturally didn't have any problems with wear, despite the fact that the track temperature reached as high as 50o.C!"
Qualifying for the first race on Saturday evening saw the No.5 Corvette/Michelin of Fassler/Deletraz secure pole-position ahead of the No.33 Jetalliance Aston Martin/Michelin (Wendlinger/Sharp) which was withdrawn before the start for safety reasons. Running on soft compound Michelin tyres, the No.5 and No.6 Phoenix Racing Corvettes soon pulled clear of the pack and went on to take the chequered flag within a second of each other. Third across the line was the No.1 Maserati/Michelin of Bartels/Bertolini who bagged a surprise podium finish for Vitaphone Racing since their car was carrying 80kg of ballast, a huge handicap round this street circuit where overtaking was always likely to be a problem.
In GT2, the new CR Scuderia team picked up its first success with the No.56 Ferrari/Michelin of Bell/Kirkaldy following a fierce scrap with the category's pace-setting AF Corse Ferrari/Michelin (No.50, Vilander/Bruni) which was carrying 75kg of ballast.
Saturday's winners took the spoils in Sunday's clash, too, which took place in searing heat and which turned out to be a repeat of the previous day's scenario, at least for the No.5 Corvette and the No.56 Ferrari. An off saw the second Phoenix Racing car hand second place to the No.2 Maserati/Michelin of Negrao/Ramos, while the GT1 podium was rounded off by the second Vitaphone Racing Maserati. It was an all-Michelin podium in GT2 thanks to the two Ferrari F430s and the No.61 Porsche 997 of Collar d/Westbrook.
Next round: Brno (September 13-14)