Interlagos: Series Championship Race report

Local heroes grab the spoils The Brazilian flags fluttered wildly at Interlagos as local heroes Enrique Bernoldi and Xandi Negrao, starting from fourth position on the grid, took their Vitaphone Maserati No.2 to victory in a thrilling...

Local heroes grab the spoils

The Brazilian flags fluttered wildly at Interlagos as local heroes Enrique Bernoldi and Xandi Negrao, starting from fourth position on the grid, took their Vitaphone Maserati No.2 to victory in a thrilling Championship Race.

Pole-sitters and early leaders Tomas Enge and Darren Turner in the Young Driver Aston No.7 were second with Marc Hennerici and Alex Margaritas in the Phoenix Corvette No.13 third.

The racing was intense before a huge partisan crowd in the heartland of Brazilian motorsport. Battles raged throughout the field for the full 60 minutes in temperatures reaching 30C.

After Enge had handed over the No.7 to Turner in the lead it was left to Negrao to make the move towards the end which proved decisive as the Aston struggled with tyre wear.

Both cars made contact as Negrao dived down the inside into the mid section of the lap. Turner conceded that the move was hard but fair.

The overall results put a new complexion on the drivers' championship battle which will now be extended to the final race in San Luis next weekend.

Thomas Mutsch (Matech Ford GT No.5), second to the leaders Andrea Bertolini and Michael Bartels (Vitaphone Maserati No.1) before the race, dropped to fourth.

Mutsch and Richard Westbrook started from the rear of the grid and despite a strong performance, finished 14th and out of the points thus ending his title hopes. Bertolini and Bartels finished 9th and collected two points.

Their total is now 132 points with Turner and Enge moving up to second on 104 - a lead of 28 points with 33 points available in San Luis.

Hennerici is third with 99 points - 33 behind - but cannot take the title due to the fact that the Maserati pair have four wins to the Corvette man's one.

Sao Paulo Championship Race: What the drivers say ...

Enrique Bernoldi, Vitaphone Maserati No.2

"I tried to stay close to Tomas (Enge) and (Peter) Dumbreck at the first part of the race as I knew Xandi (Negrao) had new tyres and he could use them to our advantage. I passed the car to him after a good pit stop.

"I have to thank him and the team. It is very nice to race the car with two No.1 drivers. He did a really good job. As things have been so difficult this year I really appreciate this win. It's great to do it in front of our home crowd."

Xandi Negrao, Vitaphone Maserati No.2

"I have no words to describe how I'm feeling. It was an amazing weekend. Since the day that Michael (Bartels) called me to do this race. I'm glad that after two years Michael remembered me! Today we had a good strategy saving the new tyres for the end.

"Towards the end I saw that the Aston was struggling a bit more with the tyres than me so I was waiting for the time to go ahead. Unfortunately we don't have the same engine as them so I had to overtake a bit too aggressively but sometimes you have to go for it.

"I'm glad we were able to help the team to maybe win the team championship and help Michael and Andrea to win again the championship of drivers."

Tomas Enge, Young Driver Aston Martin No.7

"I had a good start but after three laps I struggled a bit with tyre drop-off and there was quite a big queue behind me of first four cars then five and then six cars. It was way too hot for us and we couldn't cope with the grip as we did yesterday.

"To be honest we just did not expect this result at all. Yesterday we had a win and today second place is great as well. Before the weekend we thought it we were fighting for P10 we would be happy. We've done a good job, we've had great pit stops yesterday to take the No.2 car and today to keep the lead and we scored a great amount of points.

"I don't think we should be thinking about the drivers' championship but we will be definitely fighting for second place, that's our target."

Darren Turner, Young Driver Aston Martin No.7

"I thought the move (by Negrao) was fair. I was struggling on the infield but we had a bit more speed on the main straight so I thought I had it under control. As the race went on I was making a few mistakes trying to deal with the tyres.

"It was a good move. I thought I had it closed down enough but he still found a way through. There was only a small amount of contact. It's tight out there, if you are going to make a move there is probably going to be a little bit of contact. That sort of racing never bothers me. It's still professional, it's still done in a sporting way. It's give and take out there and you just have to accept that you can't have completely clean moves when the car performances are so similar places around the circuit."

Marc Hennerici, Phoenix Racing Corvette No.13

"It's great to be on the podium here again -- the fourth podium for 2010 -- and three podiums with Alex (Margaritas) in four races.

"We worked hard over the weekend. We started in 15th place in Free Practice and now we end up on the podium. Alex had to drive more laps than me and he did a superb job.

"We are in a good position in the (drivers') championship -- third in front of Thomas Mutsch and Tomas and Darren are a few points ahead of me. So it's still real battle for the top three at the end. My big goal is to go to Monaco on December 10th, I am still in the race and that's what I'm fighting for."

Alex Margaritas, Phoenix Racing Corvette No.13

"For me it was very difficult. I am lucky to be here in Brazil. On Monday evening I got a bad poisoning in my stomach so I had to cancel my flight on Tuesday and took one on Thursday evening. Today I was not totally fit but we know we had to attack today so I kept my head day and pushed till the end.

"I knew the Aston (No.10) was coming from behind but I was not looking in the mirror and I'm really to get the third place to help Marc."

Michael Bartels, Vitaphone Maserati No.1

"We had a good race. We just tried to make the best of what we could with 40kg of weight and do the best job we could in our performance window. Andrea and I drove well and we didn't make any mistakes and we picked up points to help with our championship lead. To be honest we didn't expect to win the (drivers) championship here.

"If it was a tennis match, I guess you could say we have two match points as we travel to San Luis.

"As for our Brazilian team-mates, if I was making a movie I would make it so that the local hero Xandi Negrao makes the pass from second position to win the race near the end. We sent Xandi away for a couple of years and now we bring him back he shows us what he has learned!

"Their win helps us in the team championship. For the team, it was the sweetest victory and I like sweet things."

Richard Westbrook, Matech Competition Ford GT No.5

"Our weekend was ruined yesterday when (Frank) Kechele took off Thomas (Mutsch) and we had to start from the back of the grid. We overtook a lot of cars but our car wasn't quite quick enough today so we couldn't really fight for the positions where we wanted to be.

"It was just too hot for us today. We struggled with engine and gearbox temperatures. It was the same for all the Fords. It's a disappointing end to a very frustrating weekend."

Neel Jani, Matech Competition Ford GT No.6

"After yesterday where we were really quick in the race, actually the quickest car at the end, I was hoping today for at least a top five result so to finish eighth I am not very happy. I got a good start. I was being a bit careful at the beginning and then I caught the train of the leading cars and we were looking good.

"Unfortunately we slipped back to eighth again after the pit stop and we had a gearbox problem towards the end of the race so we know we can do a lot better for sure."

Jonathan Hirschi, Hexis Aston Martin No.10

"We didn't quite manage another podium but we are pleased with the result although it was another fourth place for us and we have had a couple of those already this season. We changed the set-up and found the car a bit more difficult to drive today. It was a good race and there were some good battles as always."

Franck Kechele, Reiter Lamborghini No.25

"It was strange, Ricardo (Zonta) just lost power on the straights and we didn't know what it was. We will have to check it out. It's sad that we didn't score any points here this weekend. Now we have to try and catch up in Argentina score some points there."

-source: gt1 world

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Enrique Bernoldi , Tomas Enge , Darren Turner , Michael Bartels , Neel Jani , Andrea Bertolini , Marc Hennerici , Richard Westbrook , Thomas Mutsch , Jonathan Hirschi , Franck Kechele
Teams Phoenix Racing