FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP
Warm and dry weather greeted the cars and drivers for the tenth round of the FIA GT Championship.
Double Ferrari win in Jarama
As in Austria, both the GT and the N-GT wins went to the Ferrari cars, with the 550 Maranello winning overall and the Ferrari 360 Modena leading the N-GT category. An excellent race round the tight and technical Spanish track of Jarama saw a relatively high level of attrition, with only 20 of the 32 cars taking the chequered flag. Winners Rydell and Menu completed 111 laps of the 3.85 km track in the allotted time of 3 hours, finishing 44.376 seconds ahead of their nearest rivals, Vincent Vosse and Boris Derichebourg in the Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper GTS-R.
Second win of the season for Prodrive
Rickard Rydell and Alain Menu gave the nr 15 Prodrive Allstars their second win of the season, after a steady drive from fourth on the grid. Moving into the lead at the time of the first pit stops, mainly due to the British team’s extremely smooth pit work, the car remained in command for the rest of the race, pulling out a lead of nearly a minute over the rest of the class. They were followed across the line by two of the Paul Belmondo Chrysler Vipers, with Vosse/Derichebourg finishing ahead of Kumpen/Clerico. Fourth place went to pole setter and early race leaders, Bouchut and Belloc in the nr 7 Larbre Competition Chéreau, who lost the third podium place on the penultimate lap. Nicolaus Springer and Julian Bailey continued their run of points finishes with fifth place for the nr 2 Lister Storm, despite driving for over 90 laps without a clutch. Paul Belmondo and Claude-Yves Gosselin took the final point for sixth place, having achieved a 100% record of getting all three yellow and blue Vipers into the top six.
Although the Championship has already been decided in favour of Larbre Competition-Chéreau, there will be an extremely close battle for the runners-up position in the Drivers Championship at the final race. Vincent Vosse is currently one point ahead of Nürburgring winner Jamie Campbell-Walter, who failed to finish today. Campbell-Walter is just one point ahead of the Carsport Holland drivers Mike Hezemans and Jeroen Bleekemolen, who also failed to finish.
JMB take their fifth win
With their fifth win of the season, the JMB Competition Ferrari 360 drivers David Terrien and Christian Pescatori have closed to within one point of Luca Riccitelli in the N-GT Drivers Championship. The Ferrari, with a one-stop strategy for fuel, tyres and driver changeover, outpaced the early leader, the nr 77 RWS Porsche 996 GT3-R, which was forced to stop twice. Riccitelli and Quester finished second, ahead of the nr 54 Art Engineering Porsche of Babini and Moccia. Fourth place went to the nr 57 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche of Cyrille Sauvage and Robin Liddell, just ahead of the second Art Engineering car of Bertolini and Cazenave, which put in an excellent race after catching fire in yesterday’s second qualifying session. Spanish team Escuderia Bengali took the final point with a sixth place finish for Paco Orti and Wolfgang Kaufmann.
Christophe Bouchut made an excellent start from pole, tearing into the distance in the nr 7 Larbre Competition Chéreau Chrysler Viper, and increasing his gap over the rest of the field at a rate of nearly two seconds a lap. On lap 3, he set the fastest lap of the race, with a time of 1:32.399. He was followed by Clérico in the nr 11 Paul Belmondo Viper, and the nr 15 Prodrive Ferrari, which was involved in a big battle with the equally fast-starting Julian Bailey in the nr 2 Lister Storm. The Carsport Holland Chrysler Vipers, which were not in the Superpole, made their way towards the front of the field, but first a clash between Jamie Campbell-Walter and Mike Hezemans, followed by a spin for the Dutchman, put the nr 3 Carsport Viper out of contention, while the nr 1 Lister Storm retired on lap 14 after a reoccurrence of the vibrations with which the car suffered in Austria. Bailey, in the nr 2 Lister Storm, eventually got the better of the Ferrari on lap 9, and despite losing his clutch after 17 laps, moved into the lead ahead of Bouchut when the Larbre Viper began to fade. When Bailey handed the Storm over to his team-mate Nicolaus Springer, the Prodrive Ferrari took the lead, and from that point onwards was in command of the race. In the meantime, the Paul Belmondo Vipers were making their way up the field, and the nr 12 car of Derichebourg and Vosse moved into second place ahead of the nr 4 Carsport Viper, and the nr 7 Larbre Viper, which had lost a lot of time in the pits due to a rear wheel problem. The nr 4 Carsport Viper, driven by Bleekemolen father and son, retired on lap 61with a broken cam shaft, while the nr 3 retired later with a lack of power. After the final pit stops, the top four cars were on the same lap, but although the nr 15 Prodrive Ferrari, the nr 12 Belmondo Viper and the nr 7 Larbre Viper were well spread out, Emmanuel Clérico, at the wheel of the nr 11 Belmondo Viper, came out of the pits close behind Bouchut in the Larbre car. The battle between the two Frenchmen continued until the end of the race, with Clérico finally taking advantage of a mistake from Bouchut on the penultimate lap to grab third place. Menu took the chequered flag for his first win in the Championship, alongside Rydell, while the Belmondo Vipers of Derichebourg/Vosse and Clérico/Kumpen joined them on the podium, giving the French team their best result since Brno.
Luca Riccitelli started from pole in the nr 77 RWS Porsche 996 GT3-R and dominated the first part of the race, pulling out a big gap over the rest of the N-GT field and rising as high as second overall when the GT cars started to pit. In the meantime, the nr 62 JMB Ferrari made one of its usual slow starts, dropping back on the first laps. Pescatori spent some time battling with newcomer Timo Bernhard, at the wheel of the second RWS Porsche, until a broken suspension sent the RWS car into the gravel. However, by the time Riccitelli made his first pit stop, handing over to veteran Austrian driver Dieter Quester, the nr 62 Ferrari had recovered to take the lead, followed by the nr 54 Art Engineering Porsche of Babini and Moccia, and the nr 57 Freisinger Motorsport of Sauvage and Liddell. When the Ferrari eventually came in to the pits, just before the half-way point in the race, the nr 57 Porsche was the only N-GT car not to have pitted, and Liddell led the race briefly before making his car’s only stop. This put Quester and the nr 77 RWS Porsche back in the command of the class. However, another stop was necessary for the team, and while handing over to Riccitelli and putting new tyres on, the Ferrari regained the advantage. Nearly a minute behind, Riccitelli fought hard to catch Terrien in the nr 62 Ferrari, but the task proved to be too hard. The Italian went off the track at one point, while attempting to lap Wolfgang Kaufmann in the Spanish Bengali Porsche, but recovered to take the chequered flag in second place and retain the Championship lead by one point, ahead of the nr 54 Art Engineering Porsche, the nr 57 Freisinger Motorsport car and the second Art Engineering Porsche of Cazenave and Bertolini. In the final stages there was an extremely close battle for sixth place between the nr 72 Bengali Porsche and the nr 52 EMKA Racing Porsche, with Kaufmann winning through to give Spanish team a point.
Rickard Rydell (SWE)– nr 15 Prodrive Ferrari– 1st GT : "We had a very good race, especially as the team did a fantastic job. We had a solid race, we managed to stay quite a way ahead of the others. We were not the fastest car out there. The others made some mistakes and we had restrictors two sizes smaller, as well as 60 kg handicap weight. Today, everyone did a good job and therefore we won. It is obviously also nice to see that all three teams on the podium today are equipped with Dunlop tyres. We were also good on pit stops as our team is used to tyre changes in the British Touring Car Championship previously. There is also some internal competition in the team as all of our mechanics want to be fastest !"
Alain Menu (SUI)– nr 15 Prodrive Ferrari– 1st GT : "I am very pleased for Prodrive as they did a fantastic job in the pit stops. That’s where we made a big gap over the other cars. I am very happy. I had a difficult season in the DTM so I am very happy to win in GTs !"
Vincent Vosse (BEL)– nr 12 Belmondo Chrysler Viper– 2nd GT : "I did not have a good start as I was on the outside and let a few cars pass me. I also had difficulties keeping one of the Carsport Viper cars behind me and had trouble getting out of some of the hairpins. The team did a very good job this weekend. We struggled a bit in Hungary and Austria and then the team did a fantastic job to take us back at the front. Dunlop also did a good job this weekend".
Boris Derichebourg (FRA)– nr 12 Belmondo Chrysler Viper– 2nd GT : "I had a good stint and I am pleased that we are back at the front. It has been a long time !"
Emmanuel Clérico (FRA)– nr 11 Belmondo Chrysler Viper– 3rd GT : "I feel as if we won the race as I was completely lost on this track on Friday ! It was my first time here. I took a good start but after the first lap, all my brakes were on the front and I locked the two rear wheels. It took me around 15 laps to make them round again. When Anthony was in the car, I was watching the lap times of the Larbre Viper and could see that their tyres were wearing out. So when I went out for my last stint, I was right behind Bouchut and just stayed behind, not pushing too hard on the tyres, knowing that his tyres would be wearing out towards the end and that I would be able to pass him then."
Anthony Kumpen (BEL)– nr 11 Belmondo Chrysler Viper– 3rd GT : "It was a difficult weekend. In the first free practice session, we worked on the set up of the car as it was running for the first time since the Spa accident. Emmanuel did most of the work. In the second free practice, we had a gearbox problem after half an hour, which ruined the free practice. Emmanuel did most of the qualifying so at the beginning of the race, I was still trying to find my lines. After ten laps, however, I was fine and could do a good stint".
David Terrien (FRA)– nr 62 JMB Ferrari– 1st N-GT : "This is a very good result for us as the Championship is still open for the last race. We will have to push hard again to finish ahead. The car was fantastic in the race. Christian did a good set-up. I did the middle stint and I knew that if I was not pushing too hard we could make it to the end in one stint. The team told me the gap between me and Luca so that I could save fuel and drive the car until the end without an extra pit stop. The team did a very good job on the car since the last race, taking it apart and checking everything. This weekend, the car was running perfectly in the warm conditions."
Christian Pescatori (ITA)– nr 62 JMB Ferrari– 1st N-GT : "The start was very difficult as the circuit has a long straight and our car is not very fast. On the first lap, 8 or 9 cars overtook me. It was a bit dangerous in the first four or five corners. After three or four laps, I could come back.".
Luca Riccitelli (ITA)– nr 77 RWS Porsche– 2nd N-GT : "It is not the first time this year that we have done a fantastic first stint. We are often in the first position for the first hour. I can only do my best and push as hard as I can. In the end, there is no way to win a race when JMB only stops once and we have to stop twice. The same happened in Magny-Cours. The only thing we can do is to push very hard from the beginning to make a gap but it is also a risk. Then we are always too slow in the pits when we change tyres. We lose 30 seconds compared to JMB. They do a fantastic job in the pits, they have a fantastic strategy. This is the result… We are still in the lead with one point. So it is as if we start from scratch. We will see what happens. For sure, we will do our best".
Dieter Quester (AUT)– nr 77 RWS Porsche– 2nd N-GT : "Timewise, Luca was the hero on the track today. Certainly, I am not so happy with the result. Let’s see what happens in Estoril".
Fabio Babini (ITA)– nr 54 ART Porsche– 3rd N-GT : "The car was very good on this track. I had only one problem , when the ART Viper hit me at the rear which changed all the set up of the car. We lost time also in the pit stop. Still, I am very pleased to be back on the podium".
Jamie Campbell-Walter (GBR)– nr 1 Lister Storm : "I had a small crash with Hezemans, and I took him off ; I tried to stop, but I couldn’t. I didn’t think he would turn in there– I didn’t do it on purpose. But he got going again, and it didn’t do any real damage to our car, just bodywork. However, we then had a reoccurrence of the vibrations we had had earlier, and although it might have been paranoid, we didn’t want to risk another big fire, so we decided to come in. Perhaps if we would have been fighting for the Championship I would have taken the chance."
Julian Bailey (GBR)– nr 2 Lister Storm : "I lost the clutch on the seventeenth lap. The hydraulics went, so it did not operate normally. This was really difficult for the pit stops, when we had to stall the car, and then get going, in gear, with the starter motor. At least it shows that the starter engine problems we had previously have been totally solved ! But this clutch problem also took its toll on the gearbox. And Nicolaus could not manage to drive the car without a clutch, so I had to take over really quickly, which was very hard. I really enjoyed my first stint, although I nearly went off while fighting with Menu. But I didn’t enjoy the second one at all, and just concentrated on staying on the track and bringing the car home."
Christophe Bouchut (FRA)– nr 7 Larbre Viper : "It’s been a difficult weekend, but globally we have been quite competitive. I’m pleased with my start, but during the last ten laps of my stint, the car went off really quickly, and I could not put up any resistance to the Ferrari or the Carsport Viper. Despite that, we still hoped for a podium finish, but we also lost time during the first stop with the rear wheel. In my final stint I did everything I could to make up time, but there was a lot of traffic. And then Emmanuel Clérico was driving really well behind me, and when I made a mistake, he got through. But even without that mistake, he would have got past me before the end. I would rather have liked to finish on the podium, as I’ve almost lost the habit, but I’ll just have to be content with the fastest lap."
Patrice Goueslard (FRA)– nr 50 Larbre Porsche : "We broke an engine belt, and lost time changing it. We had realistically lost all hopes of points then, but decided to go out in case other people had problems and we could make up a point or two. We finished last in our class. But with three drivers on the car, you are at a disadvantage anyway, and our car is quite standard, unlike some of the other Porsches."
Thierry Perrier (FRA)– nr 55 Perspective Porsche : "I spun off on oil under braking, into a sand trap. I had managed to keep the car going, but there was a harder patch of sand, and the car took off, and when it landed, damaged the front. Until then, it had been going quite well, despite a slight problem with the brakes blocking at the rear. However, I think the gap between the cars in the Superpole and the rest of us was more difficult to catch up at this track."
Cyrille Sauvage (FRA)– nr 57 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche : "It could have been better. In motorsport, second place is not good, because you could have won. Fourth isn’t good, because you just missed the podium. And seventh is no good because you just missed the points. But realistically speaking, after starting tenth in the N-GT category, a fourth-place finish is not too bad. I’m quite happy as Robin and I were similar in our lap times. We had a one-stop strategy, which helped a bit, and I think we were the only Porsche to do that. Maybe if we were faster we would have gained a place, but then we might have had to make another stop. It was a good race, with no mistakes, no incidents, just perhaps a pit stop that was a bit too long."
Wolfgang Kaufmann (GER)– nr 72 Bengali Porsche : "As I said before, I was just doing my race, not wanting to get involved in the Championship battle. I saw Luca behind me on the start/finish line, and I braked in the normal way. In the first two right-handed corners, I kept to the right so he continued to close on me. I don’t know why, but he chose to overtake me in the Varzi corner, where there is just one racing line, and he tried to pass on the dirty left side. I just kept going– at the next corner, I would have moved out of the way. I was very worried as I couldn’t see his car behind me, but then he returned, after going through the gravel. At least it didn’t affect the final result. I am happy with my sixth place, and I had a good race with Sugden. His car was better out of the corners, and mine on the straights, so it was a really nice and fair fight. Eventually he saw I was faster and let me through. However, I then spun after a slight collision with a Belmondo Viper, and although I continued, my tyres were on the limit and I could see Tim getting closer and closer. Luckily the race was soon over ! I’m happy for Paco Orti and the whole team. "
Timo Bernhard (GER)– nr 76 RWS Porsche. The 20-year old Porsche factory driver, with Supercup, Carrera Cup and ALMS experience, raced in the Championship for the first time this weekend. "It’s been a new experience for me, and I like it. However, the different regulations mean that the 996 GT3-R seems almost like a different car from the one I drive in the ALMS; and the lack of dry running in practice made things difficult. In the race, I had problems with the steering. Something broke, and I went off into the gravel. Then a tyre also exploded, and we retired. The weekend hasn’t gone too well. But I did have a good fight with Pescatori early in the race– it was hard but fair."
Next event : Round 11 : Estoril (POR)– October 19th– 21st, 2001 <pre> Provisional standings after 10 of 11 rounds :
Drivers : 1. Bouchut (FRA) 73 pts Ex. Belloc (FRA) 73 pts 3. Vosse (BEL) 34 pts 4. Campbell Walter (GBR) 33 pts 4. Hezemans (NED) 32 pts Ex. J. Bleekemolen (NED) 32 pts 7. Derichebourg (FRA) 28 pts 8. Duez (BEL) 27 pts 9. Rydell (SWE) 24 pts 10. Coronel (NED) 20 pts
Teams : 1. Larbre Chereau (FRA) 85 pts 2. Carsport Holland (NED) 47 pts 3. Paul Belmondo Racing (FRA) 46 pts 4. Lister Storm Racing (GBR) 44 pts 5. Prodrive Allstars (GBR) 24 pts
Drivers : 1. Riccitelli (ITA) 57 pts 2. Terrien (FRA) 56 pts Ex. Pescatori (ITA) 56 pts 4. Quester (AUT) 49 pts 5. Ortelli (MON) 35 pts 6. Babini (ITA) 31 pts 7. Moccia (ITA) 27 pts 8. Perrier (FRA) 26 pts Ex. Neugarten (BEL) 26 pts 10. Peter (AUT) 25 pts
Teams : 1. RWS Motorsport (GER) 59 pts 2. JMB Competition (FRA) 58 pts 3. Freisinger Motorsport (GER) 38 pts 3. ART Engineering (ITA) 35 pts 5. Larbre Chereau (FRA) 26 pts Ex. Perspective Racing (FRA) 26 pts