The first of the two FIA GT3 European Championship rounds at the beautiful circuit of Spa-Francorchamps took place today, in wet conditions. Bornhauser and Bouvy, driving the nr 10 Racing Logistic Dodge Viper Competition Coupe, claimed the first...
The first of the two FIA GT3 European Championship rounds at the beautiful circuit of Spa-Francorchamps took place today, in wet conditions. Bornhauser and Bouvy, driving the nr 10 Racing Logistic Dodge Viper Competition Coupe, claimed the first win for the French team, finishing ahead of the Tech 9 Motorsport Porsche of Deverikos and Edwards. The second race will take place on Saturday morning, before the start of the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa
The heatwave broke on Friday, shortly before the start of the first FIA GT3 European Championship race, giving the teams and drivers wet conditions.
FIRST WIN FOR RACING LOGISTIC
The weather certainly posed a challenge for the drivers in round 5 of the FIA GT3 European Championship; rain is more or less guaranteed at the classic Spa-Francorchamps circuit, and so it proved for Saturday's race. The result was numerous incidents, a busy safety car period when every car pitted to change drivers, atrocious conditions in the closing stages and finally a red flag, bringing the race to a premature close.
Coming through the carnage was the nr 10 Racing Logistic Dodge Viper Competition Coupe, Patrick Bornhauser and Frédéric Bouvy driving a faultless race to claim the win; this was a remarkable performance, as it was reigning French GT Champion Bornhauser's first-ever race at Spa, and Bouvy's first race in the GT3 Championship. They were followed home by the nr 44 Barwell Motorsport Aston Martin DBRS9 of Jonathan Cocker and Leo Machitski, but a time penalty for a pit-stop which was too short dropped them well down the order.
That handed second to the nr 9 Tech 9 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup driven by Sean Edwards and Dimitris Deverikos, reigning British GT3 class Champion. Third went to the nr 18 Team Carsport Callaway Corvette Z06 GT3 of John Heinricy and Jürgen von Gartzen; with Marcello Zani and Massimiliano Mugelli taking fourth in the nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Aston Martin DBR9, there were four different makes in the top four positions.
The result means that there is no change at the top of the Championship, as the current leaders Stefano Livio and Andrea Ceccato failed to score after Ceccato went off in the nr 27 Racing Box Dodge Viper and was unable to continue; the win vaults Bornhauser up to fifth in the table.
The rain started a few minutes before the race began, so all the teams chose to use wet tyres for this first race of the FIA GT3 European Championship in Spa-Francorchamps.
In the nr 29 Pouchelon Racing Dodge Viper Competition Coupe, paraplegic driver Gilles Duqueine made the best start, and took the lead ahead of Massimiliano Mugelli (BMS Scuderia Italia Aston Martin DBRS9) and Patrick Bornhauser (Racing Logistic Dodge Viper). Bornhauser quickly got past Mugelli, and the French GT Champion managed to catch Duqueine. Then Mugelli lost several positions, and dropped down to seventh.
In the nr 18 Team Carsport Callaway Corvette Z06 GT3, German driver Jürgen Von Gartzen started in 7th position, but he was up to third by the end of lap 2.
While Duqueine, Bornhauser and Von Gartzen stayed together, Stefano Zonca, in the nr 26 Racing Box Dodge Viper, was more than 9 seconds back from the leaders in fourth.
On lap 4, Patrick Bornhauser overtook Gilles Duqueine for the lead, and was able to raise his pace whereas Duqueine had to fight off Von Gartzen's Corvette.
On lap 5, the Championship leaders, the nr 27 Racing Box Dodge Viper, driven by Andrea Ceccato, went off the track and had to stop.
On lap 8, Gilles Duqueine went off and hit the wall before the "Bus Stop" corner, and the Safety Car had to come on track, after 25 minutes of racing. At that point the nr 10 Racing Logistic Dodge Viper was first, nr 18 Team Carsport Callaway Corvette was second, ahead of nr 26 Racing Box Dodge Dodge Viper, nr 9 Tech 9 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup and nr 11 Racing Logistic Dodge Viper. All the leaders opted to go to the pits at the same time.
Behind the Safety car, the position were : the nr 10 Racing Logistic Dodge Viper, now driven by Frédéric Bouvy, leading ahead of the sister car, the nr 11 of Steve Zacchia, followed by the nr 44 Barwell Motorsport Aston Martin DBRS9 of Jonathan Cocker and nr 9 Tech 9 Porsche of Sean Edwards.
With eighteen of the scheduled 60 minutes remaining, the green flag was shown. Bouvy held his first position, but Jonathan Cocker managed to overtake Steve Zacchia for second.
Four minutes before the end of the race, the race was stopped by the red flag, when nr 22 Barwell Motorsport Aston Martin DBRS9, driven by Tiff Needell, went off at the "Bus Stop" corner, badly damaging the car. So the nr 10 Racing Logistic Dodge Viper Competition Coupe of Frederic Bouvy and Patrick Bornhauser won the first race of the week-end ahead of the nr 44 Barwell Motorsport Aston Martin DBRS9, and the nr 9 Tech 9 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup.
In fifth position, the first Corvette Z06 GT3 was the nr 18 Team Carsport Callaway, the first Ferrari, the nr32 JMB Racing Ferrari 430 Challenge, was 8th. The first Maserati was the nr 76 AF Corse Maserati, nr 46 Damax was the first Ascari and nr 13 Reiter Engineering finished first of the Lamborghini.
However, a number of Stewards decisions further to pit stops under the reference time of 75 seconds, promoted the Tech9 Porsche to second, and the nr 18 Carsport Callaway Corvette to third. This meant that the nr 23 BMS DBRS9 of Mugelli and Zani became the leading Aston.
GT3 QUOTES :
Frédéric Bouvy, nr 10 Racing Logistic Dodge Viper Competition Coupe, 1st: "Patrick did a fantastic job at the beginning, he did very well and I only had to push for a few laps after the Safety Car session, and we made it. It is my first time in this Championship, so it is great. For us it is also a good practice because we are racing together in the PSI Corvette C6R on the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa. We raced under wet conditions today, so it could be a great advantage for the race tomorrow."
Patrick Bornhauser, nr 10 Racing Logistic Dodge Viper Competition Coupe, 1st : "It is my first time on this track, so it is interesting to be racing in the FIA GT3 European Championship and the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa in one meeting, because I have had quite a lot of time to learn the track. The car was perfect, with a very good set-up. I got a great start and I pushed during my stint; then Fred did a perfect job. We are very happy with this first victory in this Championship."
Leo Machitski, nr 44 Barwell Motorsport Aston Martin DBRS9, 2nd at the flag, later demoted to 20th: "I started the race in 6th position, and I had a very exciting race with a Porsche. I gave the car to Jonathan in 7th when the Safety Car arrived, and we had a pretty good pit stop and we came back in 3rd. When I was on track, it was starting to dry up, the car was quite hard to handle, it was really slippery and the tyres were starting to get worn^Å we could really feel the difference. The Vipers were quicker in those conditions, I think."
Jonathan Cocker, nr 44 Barwell Motorsport Aston Martin DBRS9: "As Leo said, we had a really nice pit-stop. After the restart I managed to get past the Viper down the hill. The leading Viper was quicker - I tried to catch him, I pushed really hard in the fast corners, but it was not possible. Spa is a nice circuit, and I enjoy driving here even in a wet race."
Dimitris Deverikos, nr 9 Tech 9 Motorsport Porsche 997 GT3 Cup, 3rd, later promoted to second: "The Porsche is back on good form this weekend. I started 9th, but I had a really good start, and I had a pretty good race. The team chose a really good set up in the car, we had good grip and we just kept going during the entire race. We are optimistic because we are still in the game in the Championship, because the leaders did not score any points."
Sean Edwards, nr 9 Tech 9 Motorsport Porsche 997 GT3 Cup: "The team did a great job, our car was brilliant. After the Safety Car I was behind the Viper and the Aston Martin. I was following the Aston, then we both passed the Viper. I couldn't catch the Aston, it was too fast, so I managed to keep my position, and wait for the time to come through. We have to thank the team, they did a great job and I think that tomorrow, if it is dry, maybe we could win. It is my first race in Spa, it is really great. It is now my favourite track in the world."