POUCHELON TEAM FRUSTRATED BY SHORTENED RACE
['Before the report on today's race, we should note the resolution of Pouchelon's appeal against the Vipers of Racing Logistic on the grounds of non-conformance with the FIA homologation sheet. The FIA upheld the appeal and consequently cars 10 and 11 were excluded from the results of Race 1. Therefore Gilles Duqueine/Anthony Reid were classified in 8th position and Thierry Stepec/Philippe Gaillard in 18th position.]
As in yesterday's race, replacing the engine in car 29 on Friday meant an automatic penalty of starting at the back of the grid race for Gilles Duqueine and Anthony Reid. This really mattered in today's race with a collision on the start line causing an unbelievable 18 lap Safety Car period. At the restart, the line of cars was strung out over more than 1,000m and although Anthony Reid had made up 4 places on the first lap before the Safety Car joined, he was not impressed with such a huge disadvantage. "It's incredible that drivers don't know they shouldn't leave such massive gaps" he marvelled. Reid set about the opposition as soon as the course was cleared and in his usual 'firm but fair' style made his way forwards to 17th position before pitting at 27 minutes. The driver change took longer than it should have done, which has been the case many times this year. Clearly, physical limitations can affect this. Gilles Duqueine was typically steely in his attacks and soon forced his way through to catch the Porsches of Berville, Bryant and Murphy squabbling over positions 14/15/16. An over ambitious move led to a spin which set Gilles back a little behind the Ferrari of American Steve Earle. The battle between them was captivating and eventually solved in Duqueine's favour. In the final laps, the Pouchelon Viper caught and passed Berville for a 16th place finish.
In the 31 car, Thierry Stepec took the start and navigated the pack of frustrated drivers who had sat behind the Safety Car for so long. His progress was excellent when the length of the queue is understood, with big gaps to make up as well as cars to pass. By the handover, Thierry had moved the second Pouchelon Viper up to 22nd position and was satisfied with his strong drive. Philippe Gaillard seized each opportunity which came to him to pick up more places, picking off the Porsches of Chatelain, Ricci and Savary in turn. Finally, as Steve Earle recovered from his battle with Duqueine, Gaillard arrived and passed the Ferrari for good measure. Philippe brought the car home 18th in what has been a truly excellent debut weekend for him in FIA GT3.
The team now has just 2 weeks to prepare for the FIA GT3 finale in Mugello and a great deal of mechanical work to do in between. However, we have proved that if luck is with us, we can run right at the front and now everyone is motivated to reach for the top step of the podium which has eluded us so far this season.