Fontes and RML Celebrate Debut Podium
RML's sportscar team collected their first podium of the 2004 FIA GT Championship at Oschersleben yesterday with Chris Goodwin and Jose Pedro Fontes driving a strong race in the No. 8 Saleen to cross the line in 3rd position. Mike Newton and Tommy Erdos also drove competitively in the No. 7 Saleen and crossed the line in 7th position.
A strong qualifying performance saw Mike and Tommy secure 6th position on the grid, only 0.3 seconds behind the pole-sitter, with Chris and Pedro in 12th position. This was Pedro's first GT race and his debut for the team and he soon become comfortable with the Saleen, gradually improving his lap times during the practice and qualifying sessions.
Tommy and Chris took the start of the race in Car 7 and Car 8 respectively. A good run off the line by both drivers saw Tommy climb to 5th position and Chris drove an outstanding first lap to climb up to 6th, gaining six places in one lap. With the changeable weather conditions the team had opted to put both cars on intermediate tyres and the strategy was working well. Tommy steadily climbed through the field and had gained the lead before the deployment of the safety car saw other teams pit before him and he lost his advantage. Chris pitted early with visibility problems but he rejoined to enjoy a trouble free run on slicks before pitting for Pedro to make his debut.
Mike took over from Tommy at his first stop and lapped consistently. He drove a strong trouble-free stint and with an hour of the race to go he handed the car back to Tommy. Continuing the good pace Tommy gained places and crossed the line in 6th position in the GT class.
Pedro had made a good start to his stint and began to lap competitively. He had a consistent run and maintained a good position before handing the car back to Chris. Rejoining for the final hour and running in 4th position Chris had good pace. A drive-through penalty issued to the No. 17 Ferrari saw him gain 3rd position which he maintained to the chequered flag. Again being promoted due to the non-eligible Maserati the team collected 2nd place classification, their best result this year.
Chris Goodwin commented "It is great to finish on the podium and the car ran really well. The team carried out some faultless pit stops to enable us to keep pace with the leaders, it is a long deserved result for them".
Tommy Erdos commented "It was unfortunate we dropped back when the first safety car came out but I had an enjoyable race. Mike and I both enjoyed clean stints, we had a reliable car and managed to stay out of trouble".
The championship travels to Dubai for Round 10 which takes place on Friday 8th October 2004.