First Race Report Most of the GT3 teams had their first experience of wet running during the exciting inaugural race in the FIA GT3 European Championship. The Dodge Viper Competition Coupe cars dominated the beginning of the race, with Duqueine...
First Race Report
Most of the GT3 teams had their first experience of wet running during the exciting inaugural race in the FIA GT3 European Championship. The Dodge Viper Competition Coupe cars dominated the beginning of the race, with Duqueine ahead of Zonca and Ceccato, but after the driver change, when the track started to dry, everything was different. With slick tyres, nr34 JMB Ferrari 430 Challenge, nr9 Tech9 Mortorsport Porsche 997 Cup and nr45 Ascari KZ1R put in an incredible end to the race, taking the chequered flag in this order. Therefore, JMB Racing Ferrari's Allan Simonsen and Hector Lester became the first winners in the history of the FIA GT3 European Championship.
FERRARI OPEN THE WINNER'S LIST
When the rain falls, the British drivers appear to be in their element! Team-mates last year in the British GT Championship, Allan Simonsen and Hector Lester started the season very well by winning the opening race of the FIA GT3 European Championship. However, the race had not got off to a perfect start for the nr34 JMB Racing Ferrari 430 Challenge GT3, when Lester, in second position, spun after a misunderstood with Tech 9 Porsche driven by Deverikos. However, JMB Racing chose the perfect strategy when they decided to put slick tyres on, during the obligatory driver change. "The team made the best decision, with slick tyres we were much faster than the others, and it was fun to overtake three or four cars per lap" declared Simonsen, very happy with this first victory. "This Championship is fantastic, with more than 40 cars on the grid, it is incredible. We started it by the best way, but tomorrow is another day..."
TECH 9 MOTOSPORT'S EDWARDS AND DEVERIKOS FIRST OF THE PORSCHE CARS
The nr 9 Tech 9 Motorsport Porsche 997 GT3 Cup had a nearly identical race to that of the winning Ferrari. 2005 British GT3 Champion, Dimitris Deveretikos took a good start from the third row, but he spun when he tried to overtake Lester. He dropped to seventh position, then pushed very hard to come back up to third before the drivers change. Back on track with slick tyres, his team-mate, Sean Edwards was ten seconds a lap faster than the leading Viper. Twelve minutes before the end of the race, Edwards took the lead, but could not do anything when Simonsen overtook him. "We didn't expect to finish in this position, so it is a great start for us. The race was great, we started the Championship well with this second position, and as winners of the Porsche category" declared Sean Edwards.
INCREDIBLE FINISH FOR NR 45 DAMAX ASCARI
Starting from the pit lane, with slick tyres on a wet track... the beginning of the race was quite difficult for Aaron Scott. But after the driver change, former British Formula 3 Driver, Ben Collins, put on a real show! In thirteenth position, fifteen minutes before the chequered flag, the Ascari driver climbed up to third position during the last lap. "I have a lot of fun! Our car was brilliant under those conditions, Damax did a fantastic job and the potential of the car is really interesting" said Ben Colins.
As it is said in the sporting regulations, the faster driver of each car after the second qualifying sessions must start the second race and the slower driver must start the first race. So Klaus Ludwig, who had set pole position for the first race, left the nr16 Team Carsport Callaway Corvette Z06 GT3 in the hands of his team-mate Uli Berberich-Martini, ahead of nr34 JMB Racing Ferrari 430 Challenge GT3 driven by Hector Lester.
From the second row, the nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Aston Martin DBRS9, driven by Massimiliano Mugelli, took the lead, in front of Lester and Deverikos, but both drivers spun during the first lap. So, Gilles Duqueine, in the nr 29 Pourchelon Racing Dodge Viper Competition Coupe, was second at the end of lap one, with the Frenchman taking the lead during the third lap.
The paraplegic driver then raised the rhythm and pulled out a gap. Behind him, a fierce battle started for the second position; with Mugelli (Aston Martin DBRS9) pursued by two Vipers driven by Zonca and Ceccato. After fifteen minutes, the Vipers overtook the Aston Martin, while the nr 9 Tech 9 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup, driven by Deverikos, closed on the leaders. Zonca was the first to come to the pits to change driver.
A few cars decided to change rain tyres for slicks during the stops. The nr29 Pouchelon Racing Dodge Viper Competition Coupe, now in the hands of Anthony Reid, was still leading the race, threatened by the nr26 Viper driven by Marco Cioci, but with slicks tyres, Sean Edwards and Allan Simonsen were nearly 10 seconds faster per lap. They overtook several cars, and quickly caught up with the leaders, passing them 12 minutes before the end of the race.
Allan Simonsen (nr34 JMB Racing Ferrari 430 Challenge GT3) overtook Sean Edwards (nr9 Tech 9 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup), and they crossed the finish line in the same order.
The last lap was critical. Cioci tried at any price to overtake Anthony Reid in order to finish third and first of the Vipers. Both cars, still on rain tyres, were very hard to drive; some contact occurred, and Cioci overtook Reid, but Ben Collins, after an impressive recovery, surprised them and passed them before the finish line.
In the end, Allan Simonsen and Hector Lester on nr34 JMB Racing Ferrari 430 Challenge GT3 won the opening race of the season, ahead of nr9 Tech 9 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup and nr45 Damax Ascari KZ1R. The first Viper, nr26 Racing box, was 4th, and the first Aston Martin, the nr66 of Martin Rich and Piers Jonson was 8th. Juergen Von Gartzen and Marius Ritskes were first of the Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 cars, and the nr16 Team Carsport Callaway Corvette Z06 GT3 driven by Klaus Ludwig and Uli Berberich-Martini won the Corvette class. And the first of the Maserati GranSport GT3 Light cars, Paolo Cutrera and Giuseppe Arlotti passed through all the difficulties of this first tricky race.