NINE YEARS ON... BACK TO MUGELLO
Having completed the first 100 races with victory for Jamie Davies and Thomas Biagi in the nr 2 Vitaphone Maserati MC 12, the second centenary will see the teams and drivers head south, to Italy and the circuit of Mugello. The FIA GT Championship has only raced there once before, in 1997, when it was the scene of a very important win for the BMW Motorsport McLaren F1 GTR of Lehto and Soper, setting up the final battle for the inaugural title. With a track which seems popular with all who know it, the beautiful and challenging circuit will host the seventh round of the 2006 FIA GT Championship, as well as the final races in this first season of the FIA GT3 European Championship, with everything still to play for. Other events making up a packed weekend of on-track action include single-seater action from the Formula Palmer Audi, which was already at Dijon, and the Lloyds TSB Insurance British Formula Three International Series, which raced alongside the FIA GT at Spa-Francorchamps. The Trofeo Audemars Piguet Maserati will hold its penultimate round of the 2006 season at Mugello.
ON TO THE FINAL ROUND !
The first-ever season of the FIA GT3 European Championship is drawing to a close, with the two final races of 2006 taking place in Italy, at the beautiful and popular circuit of Mugello.
It should prove a fitting finish to what has been an excellent first season, full of excellent races, and with the field of cars from eight different manufacturers growing steadily closer as the season continues. The proof that the concept works surely comes from the results themselves : in Dijon, the second race had all seven brands competing finishing in the top ten ! With average grids of 42 cars in this first season, the drivers and spectators alike have been thrilled by the breath-taking action on the circuits from Silverstone to Oschersleben, Spa to Dijon.
And now on to the final race, at Mugello. A popular circuit with all those who know it, the changes of level and challenging corners have brought up comparisons with Spa, which gave us some great GT3 action. Hopefully Mugello will do likewise ! A grid of up to 45 cars is expected for these last two races, with the DAMAX Ascari cars returning, so that all eight brands will be on the track once more.
As far as the Championship standings are concerned, the situation is provisional. The nr 10 and 11 Racing Logistic Dodge Viper cars were excluded from the Dijon event, after winning race 1, due to a problem with the conformity of the brakes. The team appealed the decision, which reinstated the cars provisionally into the results, and which allowed them to take part in the second race, under appeal. Patrick Bornhauser, with three wins to his credit, provisionally leads the Drivers Classification ahead of Racing Box duo Ceccato and Livio, with Porsche's Sean Edwards a close third. Racing Logistic also has the lead in the team's Championship, ahead of Racing Box and Tech 9 Motorsport.
The appeal should be heard, as this is a European Championship, by the FFSA, the sporting authority in France, where the race took place. The different Manufacturers' Cups are also seeing some close competition.
Sean Edwards, who gave Porsche its first GT3 win at Dijon, is leading the Porsche Cup ahead of his former team-mate Deverikos, with Paul Van Splunteren and James Murphy third. Bornhauser provisionally leads the Dodge Cup, ahad of Ceccato/ Livio and Zonca/Cioci, all from Racing Box. Cocker and Machitsky have a narrow lead in the Aston Martin Cup over Seiler and Groppi, with Mugelli and Zani third. Mugelli will be sure to want to put in a good performance for his home race - especially with a name like Mugelli at the circuit of Mugello !
The Corvettes have been more and more in evidence in recent races, with James Ruffier and Francois-Xavier Terny among the stars of Dijon. However, it is Uli Berberich-Martini who leads the Corvette Cup, three points ahead of the Frenchmen. Palma and Sperati lead the Maserati Cup, while Albert von Thurn und Taxis leads the Lamborghini Cup, ahead of his Dijon team-mate Phil Bastiaans, after an excellent weekend in Dijon which saw the Lamborghini qualify second and claim its best race finish to date. It's almost a shame the season is ending - it is all getting so exciting !