POUCHELON POWERBOAT RACING DEBUT!

Saturday's FIA GT3 race at the Mugello circuit set in the hills north of Florence was run in the most dreadful weather conditions seen in the championship this year. Thick rain clouds hung low over the valley as the circuit was swamped, the gloom compounded as the race was started after 6pm. Visibility for the drivers ranged from poor to almost zero at times.

Gilles Duqueine took the front row start achieved by Anthony Reid and got away well, only to slither off the outside of the final corner of the first lap. No harm was done but he rejoined in 12th place and the rest of the race was about playing catch up in the appalling spray conditions. Gilles fought closely with Hector Lester in the Ferrari 430 and Sperati's Maserati, pitting for a driver change after just 26 minutes. The driver change difficulty that has troubled this pairing all year caused another slow change, Anthony Reid rejoining in 14th place. Absolutely swamped in the spray and with cars on all sides, Reid was fully occupied with self preservation "we made a late setup change and ended up with huge understeer, added to the lack of visibility I was pleased to finish the race in one piece".

New boy Richard Stanton started in the 30 car in a lowly 36th grid slot but braved the terrifying lack of visibility and fought to bring the car up another 4 places before coming in at half distance to make a very swift change, Richard Hay getting away very smartly and ahead of 5 times world sport scar champion Klaus Ludwig. Hay continued to improve his times lap by lap and impressed with a best of 2.27 near the end of the race. He was pleased with his 23rd place finish but concerned about the conditions "at one point I was in 5th gear on the main straight with full lock on trying to stay on the track, it was just mad, I only continued so as not to let Richard Stanton down, we're old friends and he did his bit so I felt I had to support him".

Alex Pouchelon was impressed with both driver teams, bringing the cars back without a scratch "the bravery and skill of these guys is amazing today" he said afterwards.

-credit: pr