The sixth season of the FIA GT Championship drew to a close at Estoril today, with a fine race, full of changes of fortune on a drying track. As the positions in the top six changed, the GT Teams and Drivers titles swung between Terrien, Bouchut, Campbell-Walter and Springer, and their teams Larbre Competition Chéreau and Lister Storm Racing. However, as the track dried, the situation stabilised, with Deletraz and Piccini, in their Ferrari 550 Maranello, giving BMS Scuderia Italia its fourth win of the season.
Carsport Holland was second, ahead of a late-charging Jamie Campbell-Walter in the Lister Storm. Christophe Bouchut, in fourth, claimed the FIA GT Championship Drivers title for the second consecutive year, giving his team Larbre Competition Chéreau the Teams title. The Freisinger Motorsport duo of Ortelli and Maassen put in a dominant performance in N-GT, to secure the N-GT Teams Championship for Freisinger, finishing ahead of Cirtek Motorsport 's Jones and Dumas, with Veloqx Motorsport putting in an excellent third place in their Ferrari Modena 360.
Overcast and windy after overnight storms, the track was wet at the start, but dried quickly as the sun came out during the race.
The Larbre Competition Chrysler Viper GTS-R of Christophe Bouchut and Vincent Vosse was fastest in the morning warm-up, though a slight oil leak caused Bouchut to comment: "If I finish the race, I will be very lucky." Bouchut's time of 1:54.873s was two tenths faster than the nr 14 Lister Storm Racing Lister Storm of Jamie Campbell-Walter and Nicolaus Springer. The nr 32 DART Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello of Luca Riccitelli and Dieter Quester was third fastest, showing remarkable turn of speed in the wet and windy conditions.
In the N-GT class, Toto Wolff and Philipp Peter were fastest in the nr 58 Autorlando Porsche 996 GT3-R, comfortably ahead of the nr 54 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-R of Stephane Ortelli and Sascha Maassen. Norman Simon was third quickest in the nr 76 RWS Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-R that he shares with Paul Knapfield.
BOUCHUT AND LARBRE COMPETITION CHEREAU RETAIN THE FIA GT TITLES
Christophe Bouchut retained his FIA GT Championship title after finishing fourth in the final round of the series at Estoril. The Frenchman had a steady race with Vincent Vosse to cross the line just one place behind Jamie Campbell-Walter and Nicolaus Springer's nr 14 Lister Storm Racing Lister Storm. The Larbre Competition pair were helped by the safety car that came out to recover Claude-Yves Gosselin's nr 11 Chrysler Viper, stranded at the first corner, as this prevented Campbell-Walter from lapping Vosse.
Campbell-Walter and Springer needed to finish first or second to beat erstwhile leader David Terrien, whose nr 2 Larbre Competition Chrysler Viper GTS-R retired on only the second lap with a broken throttle cable. Bouchut's fourth position was enough to also allow Larbre Competition Chéreau to retain the GT Teams Championship.
FOURTH VICTORY FOR FERRARI
Andrea Piccini and Jean-Denis Deletraz took their fourth win of the year in the nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello. The pair started on wet weather tyres and led for the opening laps before Campbell-Walter and Hezemans got past on their intermediate tyres. It was not until the final hour that the pair took the lead again and Piccini pulled out enough of a lead to hold it to the flag. The nr 22 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari of Jean-Marc Gounon, Enzo Calderari and Lilian Bryner, finished fifth after starting the race on intermediate tyres.
HEZEMANS SECOND FOR CARSPORT HOLLAND
Mike Hezemans and Anthony Kumpen finished second in their nr 3 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R after a spectacular opening hour by Hezemans that saw him lead comfortably. The Dutchman started on intermediate tyres and lapped three seconds a lap quicker than the opposition. Co-driver Anthony Kumpen was caught and passed by Campbell-Walter in the second hour shortly before a safety car period to clear Claude-Yves Gosselin's nr 11 Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper. After the second round of stops Hezemans caught and passed Springer to take second. The second Carsport Viper, nr 4, of Fabrizio Gollin and Luca Cappellari, started on slick tyres, but Gollin spun out on the second lap and the car never recovered, retiring with a broken differential.
CLOSE FOR LISTER STORM RACING, BUT NOT CLOSE ENOUGH
Although they failed to claim either title, Lister Storm Racing team were pleased to finish on the podium yet again. Jamie Campbell-Walter and Nicolaus Springer were in contention for the win until the final hour, when Springer took the wheel and was caught first by Andrea Piccini, and then by Mike Hezemans. The gentleman driver, a three-times winner this season, did his utmost to fend off the cars behind him, but dropped to third, before Campbell-Walter got back in the car for the final section of the race.
Rejoining in fourth, Campbell-Walter brought the car back up to the podium, overtaking Bouchut in the final minutes. The second car of Bobby Verdon-Roe, David Warnock and Ian McKellar spun off in the first hour and suffered from intermediate misfire and brake problems, finishing 11th in the class.
VICTORY AND TEAMS' CHAMPIONSHIP FOR FREISINGER MOTORSPORT
Manfred Freisinger's team took victory at the final round of the FIA GT Championship to take the teams' title. Stephane Ortelli wrapped up the championship for drivers at Donington, but drove an amazing race that was applauded by his competitors, lapping the field before handing over to co-driver Sascha Maassen for the final stint. The second car of Stephane Daoudi and Bert Longin finished sixth, with a down-on-power engine.
CIRTEK MOTORSPORT CLAIMS ITS FIRST PODIUM OF THE YEAR
Romain Dumas and Adam Jones delivered Cirtek Motorsport's first podium of the year at Estoril. The pair had a trouble-free race, bothered only by the speed of Ortelli. Dumas un-lapped himself after the pit stops and finished a comfortable second when the leading Freisinger Porsche made a second pit stop for fuel. The second car of Pedro Nevoa and Roger Walter ran with the front-runners when the track was at its wettest, but eventually retired with a broken gearbox.
VELOQX MOTORSPORT TAKES THIRD ON SECOND FIA GT OUTING
The Veloqx Motorsport Ferrari 360 Modena of Tim Sugden and Andrew Kirkaldy finished on the podium on only its second FIA GT Championship outing.
Kirkaldy struggled in the wet, the first time that he had driven such a car in such conditions, but quickly adapted to the situation. Sugden stepped aboard and ran third until the end. The second car, nr 82 of Jamie Davies and Ivan Capelli, spun out in the opening hour with Davies on board, and retired soon after with an overheating problem.
FOURTH FOR JMB RACING FOR SECOND PLACE IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP
JMB Racing, who had a mathematical chance of retaining the N-GT Teams title they won in 2001, was not able to stop Freisinger Motorsport this weekend. The nr 50 Ferrari 360 Modena of Pescatori and Bertolini finished in fourth place, meaning that Pescatori took second place in the N-GT Drivers Championship, ahead of his team-mate Andrea Montermini, who was ninth today in the nr 51 car he shared with Andrea Garbagnati. The team finished in second place, with a 52.5-point lead over Autorlando Sport.
FIFTH FOR JVG RACING
The JVG Racing Porsche 996 GT3-R of Johnny Mowlem and Ian Kahn finished fifth after a stop-and-go penalty for Kahn passing under yellow flags. Like most of the N-GT field, Mowlem started on slick tyres and moved up to third in class before pitting to hand to Kahn. The penalty dropped them down to fifth.
rather upset to have finished fifth."