Magny Cours: Round one report

An action-packed race in front of well-filled grandstands saw Lister Storm Racing take their third consecutive FIA GT Championship win at Magny Cours. Jamie Campbell Walter has stood on the top of the podium each time, sharing the Lister Storm...

An action-packed race in front of well-filled grandstands saw Lister Storm Racing take their third consecutive FIA GT Championship win at Magny Cours. Jamie Campbell Walter has stood on the top of the podium each time, sharing the Lister Storm this year with Nicolaus Springer. JMB Racing also repeated their 2002 result, winning the N-GT category in their Ferrari 360 Modena after the Freisinger Motorsport Porsche, first across the line in N-GT, was excluded. The weather was bright and sunny.

LISTER STORM RACING WINS FIRST ROUND AT MAGNY COURS

Jamie Campbell-Walter and Nicolaus Springer took an early lead in the FIA GT Championship when the pair won the first round at Magny Cours in their nr 14 Lister Storm. Campbell-Walter eased his way into the front, and held his lead through the first round of pit stops. The Lister team changed just the left-side tyres to save time and give co-driver Nicolaus Springer the biggest possible lead. The German emerged from the pits with an advantage of over 40 seconds. After 40 minutes he handed the car back to Campbell-Walter, 36 seconds behind. The British driver then set about closing the gap, taking the lead at the second round of stops, but needed to make an extra fuel stop with 20 minutes to go to make it to the end of the race. He pulled out a 55-second lead over the chasing Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R of Mike Hezemans and Anthony Kumpen, meaning that he could refuel and return to the track with a lead of 20 seconds, which he kept until the chequered flag. Paul Knapfield and Bobby Verdon-Roe were having an excellent race and were running third after the first round of stops when Knapfield, making his FIA GT Championship debut, pulled to the side of the road with a broken throttle cable after Verdon-Roe had it stuck open twice.

CARSPORT HOLLAND TAKES SECOND PLACE

The nr 3 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R finished in second place in today's three hour race, admitting that they had been concentrating too much on beating the leading Larbre Viper of Bouchut and Terrien, rather than the eventual winner, the nr 14 Lister Storm. The team started from seventh position on the grid but Hezemans was up to second before the first round of pit stops. However, a penalty for passing under yellow flags dropped him back down the order. Kumpen took the lead from David Terrien and pulled out a lead over the Larbre Chrysler Viper GTS-R, but it was not enough to prevent the Lister taking the lead at the second round of stops. The second car of Luca Capellari and Fabrizio Gollin came home in fourth position overall after a middle stint by former F3000 driver Gollin that earned praise from the team manager Toine Hezemans. "He had never even seen the car before Friday!" said the Dutchman. Luca Capellari also won the Gentleman Drivers Trophy in the GT category.

THIRD PLACE FOR LARBRE COMPETITION CHEREAU

Christophe Bouchut, the reigning FIA GT Champion, raced to third position overall in his Chrysler Viper GTS-R sharing with the 2001 N-GT Champion David Terrien for the first time. The pair struggled all weekend to find the right set-up on the Michelin tyres and paid the price during the race. Struggling to make the tyres last a full hour, they steadily dropped back. The nr 2 Larbre Competition Chereau Viper, driven by Vincent Vosse and Carl Rosenblad, and which was running with the new gearbox and engine, came home in fifth, a lap behind the winners. Vosse was disappointed to be so far down having set some of the fastest laps of the race during his final stint.

FIRST POINT FOR BMS SCUDERIA ITALIA

BMS Scuderia Italia scored a point on their first race back in the Championship since 1997, with Jean-Denis Deletraz and Andrea Piccini finishing in sixth place. Jean-Denis Deletraz stalled his Ferrari 550 Maranello on the warm-up lap and started from the back of the grid. He steadily made his way through the pack and was up as high as ninth when he was involved in a collision with the nr 11 Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper, with Paul Belmondo at the wheel. Both cars spun and recovered. Deletraz was up to fourth overall when he stopped for fuel 15 minutes before the end. However the team had to make a long pit stop due to overheating, and dropped to sixth place. 23-year old Andrea Piccini was also the first recipient of the Bob Wollek Trophy, which was given at this race to the youngest driver to finish; the theme of the award will change at each race. The nr 22 BMW Scuderia Italia car of Swiss Lilian Bryner, Enzo Calderari and Frederick Dor , retired in the first hour, Calderari spinning into the gravel on lap 11 while running ninth.

FORCE ONE MISS THEIR DEBUT

New French team Force One Racing, which had made an impressive start with their Ferrari 550 Maranello, driven by Philippe Alliot and David Hallyday, was not able to start their first round of the FIA GT Championship. The car completed only one lap in the morning warm-up before Hallyday pulled into the pits with a broken gearbox. The damage ensured that the car was not able to make the grid for the start of the three-hour race.

DISAPPOINTING WEEKEND FOR PAUL BELMONDO RACING

French team Paul Belmondo Racing failed to finish in the points this weekend. Belmondo lost time early on after his nr 11 Chrysler Viper GTS-R was involved in a collision with the Ferrari of Deletraz, dropping to 22nd position. He then spent the rest of the race recovering to finish seventh overall behind the Ferrari. The nr 12 Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper, driven by Fabio Babini and Marc Duez, crashed out in the first hour with Babini at the wheel. The Italian suffered a broken differential that resulted in a high-speed spin, retiring from the race.

N-GT VICTORY FOR JMB FERRARI

A year after taking its first -ever FIA GT Championship victory at Magny Cours, a Ferrari 360 Modena claimed a second successive win at the French track. Christian Pescatori and Andrea Montermini, in the nr 50 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena, crossed the line second in class but were promoted to victory following the exclusion of the Freisinger Porsche. The pair had enjoyed a trouble-free race, and led home three other Ferraris from the JMB stable, one from JMB Racing and the remaining two from JMB Competition. After managing to complete races last year on just one fuel stop, this year the team was forced to stop three times during the race for fuel, dropping it behind the winning Porsche. The nr 51 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena of Andrea Garbagnati and Andrea Bertolini was promoted to third place, with Garbagnati winning the award for the highest placed N-GT gentleman driver. This means that JMB Racing now lead the provisional classification with 14 points. The nr 53 JMB Competition Ferrari 360 Modena, driven by Peter Kutemann, Iradj Alexander and Batti Pregliasco led the class mid-race, with Alexander at the wheel. However, the car was delayed by a gearbox problem that slowed the change from second gear to third gear and back again. They finished in sixth place, to take the final point.

FREISINGER MOTORSPORT EXCLUDED

The Freisinger Motorsport team was excluded from its N-GT victory due to the non-conformity of the fuel tank in the nr 54 Porsche 996 GT3RS of Ni Amorim and Stephane Ortelli. The pair went through the entire race on just a single stop to cross the line first, but a protest against the team was upheld in post-race scrutineering. The two drivers had conducted a measured race, despite pressure from the nr 50 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena of Pescatori and Montermini that has now been declared the winner. The second car, driven by Stephane Daoudi and Jirko Malcherek was seventh in its class.

SECOND PLACE FINISH FOR JVG RACING

JVG Racing, the team started by German driver Jurgen von Gartzen, made a successful start to its first full season in the FIA GT Championship by taking second place in the N-GT classification, further to the disqualification of the Freisinger car. The nr 60 Porsche 996 GT3-R, with von Gartzen and Khan at the wheel, started from 18th place on the grid, and made steady progress through the field. After a spirited fight with the nr 53 JMB Competition Ferrari 360 Modena, with Iradj Alexander, the car crossed the line in third place, and was later promoted to second.

RACE QUOTES

Jamie Campbell-Walter [Lister Storm Racing, nr 14, Lister Storm]: "It was an unbelievable race, everything went just right. Laurence Pearce said on the radio 'you need to have 40 seconds to stay in front' so I gave him 52. The team did a fantastic job in the pit stops and the car was unbelievable. I was almost able to do a qualifying lap on every lap. Today I didn't make a mistake all race long. I had to be ruthless with the back markers and I had to take more risks than anyone else, but that is why I was able to build up such a lead."

Nicolaus Springer [Lister Storm Racing, nr 14, Lister Storm]: "I felt very tense and I just concentrated on keeping the car on the track. Driving with Jamie has helped me immensely and the Dunlop tyres have helped as well. The team is concentrating on me, which helps me a lot, and I am driving with Jamie who is one of the greatest drivers out there."

Mike Hezemans [Carsport Holland, nr 3, Chrysler Viper GTS-R]: "I didn't push for the first five laps because I was not paying attention to the Lister and that was a big mistake. I am very glad to finish, we have got six points here which is a better start to the year than last season!"

Anthony Kumpen [Carsport Holland, nr 3, Chrysler Viper GTS-R]: " When I came out of the pits, after the stop and go, we were fourth. I managed to catch and pass Terrien. When the team said to me that I was in first position so I didn't push. I slowed down by two seconds a lap once I was past him and no one on the team noticed the Lister! We'll do better at Silverstone !"

Christophe Bouchut [Larbre Competition nr 1, Chrysler Viper GTS-R]: "The car ran well for the first few laps, but then we used up too much of our tyres. We had no grip, as we had not been able to find the correct set-up for the weekend. We still have much to learn on the car as we started the season late. I am not surprised by our result, as we moved back to the previous engine and the gearbox to make sure of finishing the race, which made us less competitive this weekend. However, we will progress !"

David Terrien [Larbre Competition nr 1, Chrysler Viper GTS-R]: "It was a hard job today, as we had a lot of balance problems and had to manage our tyres. Nevertheless, it was a good result for us as we have not got all of the latest evolutions just yet, and we did not do much testing. I know we can improve a lot."

Vincent Vosse [Larbre Competition --Chereau, nr 2, Chrysler Viper GTS-R: "During the second stint I was absolutely flying. I was lapping in the 1m36s but during my first stint I was so unlucky in the traffic. I was chasing another car and he was always passing on the straight and I always got them in the corners. I was very frustrated. We didn't have any problems, the car was fine all afternoon."

Paul Belmondo [Paul Belmondo Racing, nr 11, Chrysler Viper GTS-R]: "Every time we come here we have a dreadful time. Last year we blew four engines ! I took the start and I could see my team mate Fabio Babini up in front and I thought 'great!' Then I saw him in the tyres and I just put my head down, I could not believe it. It was a brand new driveshaft that broke."

Stephane Ortelli (before the car was excluded from the race) [Freisinger Porsche nr 54, Porsche 996 GT3-R]: "I am very satisfied and happy that I have won a race at last! I have been second rather a lot. I was running well but I had tried to save fuel but I ran out on the last lap and flicked to the reserve. I am glad that it was downhill to the pit lane and not somewhere else, otherwise we would not have made it."

Christian Pescatori [JMB Racing, nr 50, Ferrari 360 Modena]: "It was a good race but the Porsche was too good for us and they did one stop too. The new engine will have more power but we will have to watch the fuel consumption."

Andrea Montermini [JMB Racing, nr 50, Ferrari 360 Modena]: "I didn't know what the fuel consumption was like as it was my first long run, my first race and I had no data to compare. We had to adjust the set-up of the car over the weekend and go easy on the tyres. Then with seven or eight minutes to go we had to stop for fuel."

Jurgen von Gartzen [JvG Racing, nr 60, Porsche 996 GT3-R]: "I am very happy to start the season with this result. I am very proud of my team-mate and to be third."

Ian Khan [JvG Racing, nr 60, Porsche 996 GT3-R]: "I am very happy to be here. Jurgen did a good job to bring it up to third and I just had to keep it there. The team called me in for a fuel stop at the end of the race, but it was not a problem. It is fantastic to be racing in this Championship which is very professional."

Peter Kuteman [JMB Competition, nr 53, Ferrari 360 Modena]: "We had a problem with the gearbox which meant that we struggled to change from third to second and from second to third. That slowed us up a lot, sometimes it went in, sometimes it didn't. It was a nice start to the season, a nice race, not too aggressive!"

Thomas Leriche [Cirtek Motorsport, nr 64, Porsche 996 GT3-R]: "That was my first ever FIA GT Championship race and the first time that I drove a Porsche GT3. The cars on the track are very fast and I spent a lot of time looking in my mirrors and trying to keep out of everyone's way."

-fia-

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Andrea Piccini , Fabrizio Gollin , Christian Pescatori , Ni Amorim , Vincent Vosse , Stéphane Ortelli , Philippe Alliot , Jamie Campbell-Walter , Jean-Denis Deletraz , Andrea Montermini , Anthony Kumpen , Mike Hezemans , Christophe Bouchut , David Terrien , Paul Belmondo , Andrea Garbagnati , Nicolaus Springer , Fabio Babini , Ian Khan , Peter Kutemann , Enzo Calderari , Lilian Bryner , Bobby Verdon-Roe , Paul Knapfield , Bob Wollek , Marc Duez , Batti Pregliasco , Jurgen von Gartzen , Alexander Iradj , David Hallyday
Teams Larbre Competition