He gave it all, but it was not enough. Dutch driver Tom Coronel drove his heart out in the final FIA GT race of the season in order to bring his teammate Mike Hezemans the title. Despite the efforts Mike Hezemans could only drink champagne for second place in today's race as championship leaders Bailey and Campbell-Walter took their title in style by scoring their fifth victory of the year. No presents were given however and especially Tom Coronel gave the Lister drivers some frightening moments.
Carsport Holland teamowner Toine Hezemans had a very simple order for his drivers: "win the race". After all Mike Hezemans was 4.5 points down on Bailey and Campbell-Walter and in order to take the championship the Dutchman had to finish at least two places ahead of his British opponents. Thus the Dutch Viper Squad was very much focused on a race win. In order to maximize the efforts the team even entered a second car for their regular driver David Hart who was partnered by former BTCC driver Peter Kox for this occasion.
The race was to be exciting and full of incidents. First of all the Belmondo Vipers, who were also in contention for the title took each other off on the first lap. Then the lead went to the Lister Storm of Bailey and Campbell-Walter who missed a chicane due to oil on the track and consequently received a stop and go penalty. After this the lead went to the Dutch Viper. However the Carsport Holland had some more structural problems to cope with. After practice it had become clear that the lead car needed more fuel than anticipated. Even more than the second Carsport Holland entry. Because of this Hezemans and Coronel had to make an extra fuel stop which gave the advantage back to Bailey / Campbell-Walter. When Coronel took over the Viper for the final stint he received just a short instruction from teamowner Toine Hezemans. "You have got a mission, go for it", was all the former European Touringcar champion needed to say to his driver. Coronel rejoined the race more than 30 seconds down on the leading Lister, driven at that moment by Jamie Campbell-Walter. Lap after lap Tom was closing in on the Lister driving laptimes that were 2 seconds quicker than the rest of the field. "I thought all or nothing", Tom said afterwards. "I really went for it. Even if i would pass them and they finished second they would be champion, so I was hoping for a mistake. I was all over him and because I was right on his tail I lost some downforce in the Grande Courbe. I could not make the corner anymore and went straight on. Fortunately I was able to get out of the gravel and finish second. So we did not win, but I am sure we did all we could", Coronel concluded.
The FIA GT title went to Jamie Campbell-Walter and former Formula 1 driver Julian Bailey, who had his own view on Coronel's performance this year. "I just hope Tom Coronel doesn't come in full time. Next year, I hope we don't leave it this late to win the titles, I can't stand the tension!" ," a relieved Julian Bailey said afterwards.
Next week the Carsport Holland team will travel to Las Vegas for the final round of the American Le Mans series. Coronel and Hezemans will take on the factory entered Vipers and Corvettes which gives them some extra motivation to do well. "We will do everything to score there", Tom said. Both for the team and for me this is a golden opportunity to show what we can do. I am really looking forward to this", Coronel concluded.
1 Bailey/Campbell-Walter Lister Storm 106 2 Hezemans/Coronel Carsport Chrysler Viper 106 3 Duez/Belmondo Belmondo Chrysler Viper 106 4 Kumpen/Gosselin Belmondo Chrysler Viper 105 5 Springer/Favre Lister Storm 104 6 Kaufmann/Trunk Freisinger Porsche GT2 102 7 Wieth/Wieth Wieth Porsche GT2 102 8 Bouchut/Goueslard Larbre Porsche GT3 102 9 Riccitelli/Quester RWS Porsche GT3 102 10 Wallinder/Smith G-Force Porsche GT3 101
Championship Final standings 1. Julian Bailey & Jamie Campbell Walter 59 3. Mike Hezemans 50.5 4. Boris Derichebourg 37.5 5. David Hart 34.5 10. Tom Coronel 16
Teams standings 1. Lister Storm Racing 72 2. Belmondo Racing 65 3. Carsport Holland 50.5