ASTON MARTIN WINS RAC TOURIST TROPHY
BRITISH TEAMS MONOPOLISE GT2 PODIUM
A thrilling and close race, around the Silverstone International Circuit, was a perfect setting for the Centenary edition of the RAC Tourist Trophy. In front of 27,000 spectators, in the bright sunshine, Aston Martin turned their FIA debut into a fine one-two win, chased across the line by the Vitaphone and JMB Maserati MC12s and the Larbre Ferrari. Pedro Lamy of Portugal, and Peter Kox of the Netherlands gave the British manufacturer entry a fine home win and the honour of winning the Tourist Trophy for the fourth time, after 1953, 1958 and 1959. The GT2 category gave British teams a one-two-three at home, with GruppeM's Marc Lieb and Mike Rockenfeller winning ahead of Embassy Racing and Team LNT, while Balfe Motorsport won the G2 category in style.
After a gap of 46 years, Pedro Lamy and Peter Kox therefore brought the RAC Tourist Trophy back to Aston Martin, their Aston Martin DBR9 completing 134 laps of the 3.62 km circuit in the allotted three hours. The car finished just 1.9 seconds ahead of the team's second car, driven by David Brabham and Darren Turner, after a breathtaking final stint during which the two cars battled for the lead, all the while being chased down by the Vitaphone Racing Team Maserati MC 12 of Babini and Biagi.
Tim Keown, the Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club, presented Lamy and Kox with the historic trophy. "The British round of the FIA GT Championship certainly fulfilled all our expectations in providing a perfect setting for the return of the Tourist Trophy in its centenary year. The Tourist Trophy is now, we believe, firmly back in the modern motorsports calendar, and this weekend's event certainly bodes well for us continuing to be associated with the FIA GT Championship for the Trophy in 2006 and beyond. The FIA GT Championship, with its world leading manufacturers, teams and drivers, offers the ideal platform for reviving what was the ultimate achievement in grand touring competition. We have now introduced a piece of British motor racing history to today's generation and that in itself is cause for celebration."
MAXIMUM POINTS FOR VITAPHONE'S BIAGI AND BABINI
Taking the third podium place, after a fine chase in the final stages, the nr 10 Vitaphone Racing Team Maserati MC 12 claimed the maximum 10 points in the Championship, as the two Aston Martin cars, racing as manufacturer entries, are not eligible for points. With the team's two cars finishing in third and fifth positions overall, Vitaphone Racing Team added a further 16 points to their score, and now have a lead of 12 points in the Teams classification.
The nr 15 JMB Racing Maserati MC 12 of Wendlinger and Bertolini was classified fourth overall, meaning that all four Vitaphone and the two JMB drivers are all tied in the lead of the Drivers Classification, on 22 points. They are three points ahead of Gabriele Gardel, who finished sixth overall after a fine race for the Larbre Competition Ferrari 550 Maranello which the Swiss driver shared with reigning Champion Fabrizio Gollin. The car was in the thick of the action throughout, and without a drive-through penalty, could have finished on the podium. Seventh place overall was taken by the nr 2 GPC Sport Ferrari 575 M Maranello of Andrea Piccini and Jean-Denis Deletraz, in its best result of the season. The remaining points positions were filled by the JMB Maserati of Peter, Buncombe and Rusinov, the Graham Nash Saleen of Hooker, Ardizzone and Panzavuota and the Russian Age Ferrari.
BRITISH TEAMS MONOPOLISE PODIUM IN GT2
GruppeM claimed its third consecutive win of the 2005 season when the team led an all-British one-two-three home in the GT2 category. Marc Lieb and Mike Rockenfeller, in the nr 66 Porsche 996 GT3-RSR, had another close fight with their sister car, driven by Tim Sugden and Emmanuel Collard, in the first stint, but a long pit stop followed by a broken water pipe - a problem which has apparently never previously occurred in six years of racing this car - lost the 88 Porsche eight laps, and it eventually finished sixth This gave the Embassy Racing Porsche, driven by Ben Collins and Neil Cunningham, its first podium finish, after disappointment in Donington in the British GT series and at Magny-Cours two weeks ago. The third place went to Team LNT, giving the TVR its first-ever FIA GT podium finish.
They were followed by the GPC Sport Ferrari 360 Modena of Drudi and Rosa, giving the GPC team points in both categories - the only team to do so this season. The Proton Motorsport Porsche was fifth, with Sebah Automotive and Cirtek Motorsport taking the final points. In the classification, Lieb and Rockenfeller lead Collard and Sugden by seven points, while GruppeM Racing has a 38 point lead over nearest rivals Scuderia Ecosse and LNT, tied on 11.
BALFE MOTORSPORT LEADS ALL MOSLER G2
After the Monza and Magny-Cours rounds both saw good qualifying followed by disappointment in the race for Balfe Motorsport, the Mosler MT900 of Shaun Balfe and Jamie Derbyshire finally saw the chequered flag, finishing just behind the GT2 winning GruppeM Motorsport Porsche. All three Moslers - the most ever seen in a European race - finished, with Balfe 11th overall, the nr 102 Keen/Taylor car 16th and the nr 104 car, shared by Paul and Barrie Whight and Gavan Kershaw, 23rd.
PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES : WHAT THE WINNERS SAID !
Winner, GT1 : Peter Kox, nr 28 Aston Martin DBR9 "To Aston Martin, the Tourist Trophy means a lot. If I am really honest, I did not know the value of the Tourist Trophy, except that David Brabham really wanted to win it ! I realised it was something special. Obviously, we are very proud. Our team did a fantastic job, we had fantastic pit stops. "
Winner, GT1 : Pedro Lamy, nr 28 Aston Martin DBR9 : "This is a special win here. To have the opportunity to win this Trophy, alongside the names there is great. I am quite pleased with all my races this year; I've been very lucky and hope that it continues. I could manage to push at the end, and caught Darren. But we won the race in the pit lane, as the team did a very good job. The car was fast, but not much faster than everyone else, so we have to really thank them for all their work. "
2nd GT1 : Darren Turner, nr 28 Aston Martin Aston Martin DBR9 : "It was very hard work. Pedro kept me very honest throughout. Obviously we were a bit concerned by the pace of the Maserati as well. It was obvious that the Maserati was closing on me, and I was keeping Pedro behind, so the best thing for everyone was to let Pedro go and to make sure we didn't lose the great one-two for the team by holding everyone up. It's just a shame we didn't have the pace at the end."
2nd GT1 : David Brabham, nr 28 Aston Martin DBR9 : "The car was great. Another great result for Aston Martin Racing and the Michelin tyres were very consistent."
3rd GT1 : Thomas Biagi, nr 10 Vitaphone Racing Team Maserati MC 12 GT1 : " For me and Fabio and the whole team this is a great result. We didn't win, but we got the ten points, which is very important for the Championship. I had a good stint in the middle of the race; I followed the Aston Martin drivers, and I have to say thank you to him as he taught me the right line on this circuit, which I don't know as well as him, so many thanks !"
3rd GT1 : Fabio Babini, nr 10 Vitaphone Racing Team Maserati MC 12 GT1 : "It was a fantastic race for me; Darren was too fast in the first stint. It was important for me to get my Maserati between the two Aston Martins. I am very happy because ten points and the third place is very good for us."
Winner, GT2 : Marc Lieb., nr 66 Gruppe M Porsche 996 GT3 RSR : "It was fantastic ! Today, we had a really good car, we could do consistent lap times all through the race and the pit stops were very quick. My team-mate did a fantastic job as well. No problems at all so far !"
Winner, GT2 : Mike Rockenfeller., nr 66 Gruppe M Porsche 996 GT3 RSR : "It was a great race for us today. Thanks to the team for the great car, our mechanics for the excellent pit stops and to Michelin. I am really looking forward to the next race."
2nd, GT2 : Ben Collins, nr 55 Embassy Racing Porsche 996 GT3 RSR : "It is a great result for the team. It is our third race of the season, after the team started from scratch over the winter period. Achieving a podium in the FIA GT Championship is a great result."
2nd, GT2 : Neil Cunningham, nr 55 Embassy Racing Porsche 996 GT3 RSR : "The car was perfect. We solved the problems which occurred in the last couple of races. We will be back in the British GT Championship next week and then in the last three fly-away races. Hopefully, we will be back on the podium !"
3rd, GT2 : Jonny Kane, nr 80 Team LNT TVR 400 : "It was a good weekend ! The boys worked a lot, so it is nice to go home with a trophy ! This weekend was quite last minute and mostly a test session. Third is a very good result for us !"
Winner, G2 : Jamie Derbyshire, nr 101 Balfe Mosler MT 900R : "It was a good race. It was obviously a nice weekend after the first two rounds. To finish first in G2 and second behind a GT2 was good for us. The car ran faultlessly. We are very happy and the team did a very good job for us."
Winner, G2 : Shaun Balfe, nr 101 Balfe Mosler MT 900R "It is good to see all the Moslers at the finish. It was good for the manufacturer, Mosler Automotive, it was good for Balfe Motorsport as we proved that we are on the cutting edge as far as the Mosler's developments concerned. It is just great to finish. We can now go on and improve the car for the next rounds. We will wait and see".