4Th FIA GT2 WIN FOR SUGDEN Tim Sugden scored his second successive win in the FIA GT Championship race on the new circuit at Istanbul on Sunday, his 4th of the current season in this series. Sugden and his French co-driver Emmanuel Collard...
4Th FIA GT2 WIN FOR SUGDEN
Tim Sugden scored his second successive win in the FIA GT Championship race on the new circuit at Istanbul on Sunday, his 4th of the current season in this series. Sugden and his French co-driver Emmanuel Collard were just 2 seconds ahead of their GruppeM team mates Mark Lieb and Mike Rockenfeller at the end of the 2 hour event.
The organisers had decided to try a new format for the series' first visit to Turkey and shortened the race from the usual 3 hours or 500 kilometres to a maximum time period of 2 hours. The shorter length would normally leave cars such as the Porsche 996 with a necessity for just one stop but it was ruled that all cars must make 2 stops and that a driver change must be made at each stop.
Sugden and Collard in the #88 car had been struggling to keep up to the pace of the other #66 team car all weekend, qualifying second in GT2 just 4 tenths behind their team mates and as they were unable to trace the reason for the sight lack of pace elected for a bold pit strategy. Collard, who was the driver to qualify the car this week, took the start but came in just two laps into the race to change over to Tim whilst the cars were all still bunched up. A slick driver change kept them on the same lap and this gave Tim a clear track on which to regain the places and after about 20 minutes he was back in second place behind #66. As had been expected, an accident caused the safety car to be deployed partway into the race so that the cars bunched up behind the safety car allowing the #88 to get right on the tail of the #66, thus negating the pit stop delay.
While the safety car is leading the field round they cannot race each other but if they take a pit stop and can do it within the time taken for the field to complete a lap at the slow pace they just lose track position but not much time. So it was that whilst the #66 car made its first stop the #88 was able to make the second mandatory stop, changing back to Collard without losing track position. With the car now fuelled to the end they were able to take the lead when their rivals made their second stop and hold it to take the victory in a close finish.
This was a race of tactics and the win improves the second place in the championship for Sugden and Collard although with only three races still to run it would require the #66 car to fail to finish at least one for them to open up the race for the driver's title. GruppeM have so dominated the GT2 section of this series that they have the team title now firmly secured.
Sugden's next race on Saturday the 1st October is back in the American Le Mans Series at the Road Atlanta circuit in Georgia where the race distance is 1000 miles or 10 hours. The J3Racing team is likely to take on a third driver to join Sugden and Justin Jackson for this race and it is interesting that three of the GruppeM drivers will actually take part at Raod Atlanta, but driving for three different teams. Mike Rockenfeller will race for the BAM team and Emmanuel Collard has been drafted into the second Factory backed Alex Job Racing Porsche for the weekend.