Monza: Race report

LARBRE VICTORIOUS ON RETURN TO FIA GT GRUPPE M CLAIM ONE-TWO IN GT2 Monza 2005 is likely to go down in history with such races as Zolder 2001 or Brno 2002 - real epics with close racing, drama, heartbreak, continous overtaking and action that ...

LARBRE VICTORIOUS ON RETURN TO FIA GT
GRUPPE M CLAIM ONE-TWO IN GT2

Monza 2005 is likely to go down in history with such races as Zolder 2001 or Brno 2002 - real epics with close racing, drama, heartbreak, continous overtaking and action that takes your breath away. With spectator figures estimated at over 40,000 for this event, the crowds were treated to a performance of GT racing at its very best.

A win for Pedro Lamy and Gabriele Gardel was a dream result for Larbre Compétition on their return to the FIA GT Championship, now with two Ferrari 550 Maranello cars, owned and run in collaboration with Care Racing. But the race was so much more than the simple result, with nose-to-tail action throughout. Philipp Peter put in a dream start in the JMB Maserati, driving two stints and leading a group of six cars for the first hour. There was never more than seven seconds between the pack of Vitaphone and JMB Maserati MC12s, a charging Christophe Bouchut in the Russian Age Ferrari and eventual winner Lamy in the Larbre Ferrari.

The final results do not reflect the magnificent performance from the GLPK Carsport Corvette, making its FIA GT debut, which was challenging for the lead ten laps from the end and looked certain of a maiden podium, when a broken oil line finished the hopes of Hezemans, Longin and Kumpen. With the Corvette retiring, the battle continued unabated between the two Vitaphone Maserati MC 12 cars and the Larbre Ferrari, fuel problems having unfortunately sidelined the Russian Age car. Lamy overtook Bartels coming out of the Parabolica and held on to the lead despite growing pressure to take a much acclaimed win after two hours and 40 minutes of racing, ahead of Vitaphone's two Maserati MC 12 cars of Bartels/Scheider and Babini/Biagi The GT2 class saw an equally fierce battle, although this time it was between two cars of the same team, with Gruppe M line-ups Lieb /Rockenfeller and Collard / Sugden equally keen to take their first win of the season. After the final pit-stops, Rockenfeller, on his debut FIA GT race at the age of just 21, managed to slip past Sugden at the first corner, coming through to take the victory. Third place went to Italian team Ebimotors, with drivers Luigi Moccia and Emanuele Busnelli putting in a fine performance throughout the weekend.

STEPHANE RATEL'S VIEW

"To see Maserati, Ferrari and Corvette all with matching times proves that the FIA concept of balancing performances is working and has produced one of the best -ever races of the FIA GT Championship. We are surely heading for one of the most exciting seasons ever. We now need to hope that the Saleen, Lamborghini and Ferrari 575 Maranello will solve their problems in order to join the pack.

I am also very pleased with the maintained collaboration with the FIA WTCC which is bringing remarkable crowds to the circuit, and which is obviously a great benefit to the FIA GT.

WINNER'S PRESS CONFERENCE ... HOW THEY SAW THE RACE

Winner :

Pedro Lamy - nr 11 Labre Competition Ferrari 550 Maranello "It was great! I didn't expect to win that race. My teammate was really good, because he ran on used tyres, and did very well. I just pushed and I was able to win. I am very pleased with that."

Gabriele Gardel: "Everything was new so it was difficult for me to think of winning the race. I was very surprised to see Pedro [Lamy] fight like that at the end. He did a wonderful job. The team worked really well and I am very pleased for Larbre Competition. I am also happy because it is my home race track."

2nd :

Michael Bartels - nr 9 Vitaphone Racing Team Maserati MC 12:"I think we can be very pleased with the result. Monza is the first time that we all got together. I think the new car has good potential, but today Larbre competition did a very good job. We had some minor problems during our race, which made it impossible for us to win the race in the end. But I must say we are very pleased and I think we have a good base for the upcoming races."

Timo Scheider: "It's been a long time since I was last on the podium. I am really happy. I am also really happy to be together with Michael [Bartels] in the team. And I must say thank you to Michael, he did a great job in the past and to get in touch with me. We signed the contract very late for this season. I am very surprised to find us here on the podium now with both of our cars."

3rd :

Fabio Babini - nr 10 Vitaphone Racing Team Maserati MC 12 :"I am very happy with the result. The race was very close; three cars were within two seconds. The car and its balance were very good today. I was able to push very hard right from the first lap to the finish of my stint. We did a double stint on Pirelli tyres and everything went ok. Second place was within a one-second reach, but maybe next time."

Winner, GT2:

Marc Lieb- nr 66 GruppeM Racing Porsche 996 GT3-RS: "We are very happy to finish the race on top of the podium, especially as we had a few problems during the race. The team's second car was pushing us very hard during the race and it was very close at the end, we were only two seconds ahead. Mike [Rockenfeller] was pushing very hard; all weekend he set the fastest laps in the car and he did basically all the work."

Mike Rockenfeller: "All of us are really happy. It was so close when the last car did its last pit stop. We were next to each other in the first corner and I managed to slip through on the side of Tim [Sugden] and from then onwards it was pretty easy. It's fantastic for the team to be first and second. Hopefully we will be here more often. "

2nd :

Tim Sugden - nr 88 Gruppe M Racing Porsche 996 GT3 RSR : "It was really good fun. The cars were very evenly matched today. It was a really good fight. In the end we were side by side. Mike [Lieb] had a couple of laps to warm up his tyres and was just able to pass me and then it was a fight until the end. The Michelin tyres were good all weekend. I am already looking forward to the next race. This weekend, it was a big fight between ourselves and the other car, but in the next race there will be some more quick cars with the British GT2 racing with us, but we still hope to win again then."

3rd :

Emanuele Busnelli - Ebimotors Porsche 996 GT3 RSR: " I think we did our best. I had lots of over-steering problems in my stint, so we lost a lot of time. But I think with the possibilities we had we did really our best. I will definitely be back in the Championship."

WHAT THEY SAID ....

Philipp Peter - JMB Racing Maserati MC 12 - 4th: "It's a dream result with the new car, considering we had very little track time, and with new drivers, everything new - to come fourth is a dream result. We had no technical problems, the car was running like a charm."

Liz Halliday Lister Racing, nr 14 Lister Storm - 7th : "That was awesome ! I had a good time. The car felt really, really good. This was my first proper run in dry conditions here, so I just had to built up to it a bit. But everything felt good out there. I like the car a lot and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the season.. Now we've got that behind us, we can push on a bit more, and I've already tested at Magny-Cours - mainly in the snow - but at least that is a good start."

Mike Hezemans, nr 6 GLPK Carsport Corvette C5R - 10th GT1 : "As I said, we still have to learn so much on the car. The car was fantastic, but an oil line broke. This morning, in the warm-up, it was my first time in the dry, and I did a 1:48.4, without pushing. We have the potential, but potential doesn't give you points ! But none of us made mistakes - while the other cars had spins, or problems in their pit stops. We didn't make a single mistake, and an oil line broke - in a car which never breaks down ! The engine is still perfectly OK. It's unbelievable. I don't think Kumpen could have taken the lead, but we could have had a podium finish. We'll be back."

Peter Kox, nr 13 Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Murciélago - DNF : The car started but went into an emergency programme. I had to start it again, and rejoined. But we were not totally sure of the rules, and so we started from the back. Then it went reasonably well, and I moved up the field. Then I was involved in a collision with the nr 2 car, and went into the gravel. Then we had a sensor failure from the electronic system. On the one side we were happy with qualifying, but it's a shame the weekend ended like this. Monza is not our best track, and I hope we will be better at Magny Cours."

-fia-

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Pedro Lamy , Timo Scheider , Michael Bartels , Peter Kox , Mike Hezemans , Christophe Bouchut , Marc Lieb , Tim Sugden , Fabio Babini , Mike Rockenfeller , Liz Halliday , Gabriele Gardel , Emanuele Busnelli , Philipp Peter
Teams Larbre Competition , Reiter Engineering