Success for Aston Martin-Michelin on home soil Victory in the first round of the 2008 FIA GT Championship -the prestigious RAC Tourist Trophy meeting at Silverstone - went to the Jetalliance Racing-run Aston Martin DBR9- Michelin of Karl ...
Success for Aston Martin-Michelin on home soil
Victory in the first round of the 2008 FIA GT Championship -the prestigious RAC Tourist Trophy meeting at Silverstone - went to the Jetalliance Racing-run Aston Martin DBR9- Michelin of Karl Wendlinger and Ryan Sharp. The Vitaphone Racing-Michelin car failed to make it a hat-trick in the British race, while the GT2 category saw Michelin-shod Ferraris monopolise the top two places at the flag.
The first FIA GT round of 2008 started in fog and on a wet track, but that didn't prevent spectators at the two-hour race from enjoying a fiercely fought battle. Corvette C6.R drivers Marcel Fassler and Christophe Bouchut started from the front row on Michelin wets, but Karl Wendlinger (Aston Martin- Michelin) eased into the lead a few laps later as the rain hammered down. Shortly afterwards, however, the driver of the N33 Aston Martin driver span out of the lead, an incident which sparked the start of a thrilling fight-back from the Jetalliance car.
For the majority of the front-runners, the first round of pit-stops was timed shortly before the halfway point and, with the track quickly drying out, all the Michelin drivers switched to intermediate tyres, with the exception of the Gigawave Motorsport Aston Martin-Michelin of Peter/Simonsen which had started on intermediates and which went on to slicks before everybody else. The order at this stage saw the Gigawave car logically in front ahead of the Corvette-Michelin of Fassler/Deletraz and the charging Aston Martin/Michelin of Wendlinger/Sharp who had battled their way back up to third.
Full wets, then intermediates, then slicks!
As conditions continued to dry, the teams profited from the final pit-stop and driver changes to fit slicks with 40 minutes remaining until the chequered flag. Thanks to its different tyre strategy, the Aston Martin-Michelin of Peter/Simonsen still led, but the two Maserati MC12-Michelins in its wake were making up ground fast.
Around a quarter of an hour from the end, the Safety Car was sent out which led to the top-eight bunching up covered by just a handful of seconds. An aggressive move from Ryan Sharp saw the Briton overtake the leading Aston-Martin of Peter/Simonsen which was also passed by the Maserati MC12-Michelin in the hands of Bartels who salvaged second place for Team Vitaphone Racing after its laborious qualifying session. The Corvette-Michelin of Bouchut/Maassen crossed the line in fourth place.
A Ferrari-Michelin one-two in GT2
Everybody had been expecting a close scrap in the GT2 category, not only between Ferrari and Porsche but also between Michelin and Pirelli. Victory finally fell to the AF Corse-run Michelin- equipped Ferrari F430 of Bruni/Vilander ahead of the CR Scuderia Ferrari-Michelin (Kirkaldy/Bell). They were joined on the podium by a third Ferrari (Malucelli/Ruberti) which finished one lap behind the GT2 winner on rival tyres.
Gerard Bombled (Manager of Michelin's Endurance and FIA GT Programmes):
"It rained during qualifying on Saturday, then during the warm-up session and at the start, but the weather cleared up halfway into the race and the track began to dry very quickly, making it very difficult to find just the right moment to change tyres. Gigawave found the best strategy by starting on intermediates and then profiting from their first stop to switch to slicks, whereas all the other Michelin GT1 runners started on rain tyres and then switched to intermediates before finally fitting slicks. None of the Michelin GT2 teams chose to run slicks for the last part of the race."