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Spa 24: Race report

After an action-packed, rain-soaked and thrilling race, Freisinger Motorsport claimed a historic result by taking the chequered flag in the 2003 running of the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, round 6 of the FIA GT Championship. Not only did they...

After an action-packed, rain-soaked and thrilling race, Freisinger Motorsport claimed a historic result by taking the chequered flag in the 2003 running of the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, round 6 of the FIA GT Championship. Not only did they become the first of their class to win the 24-hour event, but this is the first time a car from the less-powerful class has taken an overall win in the Championship. The Porsche 996 GT3-RS of Ortelli, Lieb and Dumas completed 479 laps of the circuit in the 24 hours, finishing 8 laps ahead of the nr 22 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello, with the nr 72 Seikel Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS third. In the Championship classification, Freisinger now has a healthy lead in both N-GT Team and Drivers titles. Although BMS Scuderia Italia now leads Lister Racing by 41 points, a maximum of 18 points can be scored by a two-car team in any race, leaving the Championship open, hopefully for many races to come.

while BMS have taken an unassailable lead in the GT Teams Classification, with 4 rounds remaining.

In the GT category, BMS Scuderia Italia were followed by the nr 1 Larbre Competition Chrysler Viper GTS-R, driven by Christophe Bouchut, Vincent Vosse, Patrick Huisman and Sébastien Dumez, with the nr 24 Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper GTS-R of Paul Belmondo, Emmanuel Clérico, Yann Clairay and Pierre-Yves Corthals third.

In N-GT, the nr 72 Seikel Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS of Gabrio Rosa, Luca Drudi, Alex Caffi and Andrea Chiesa finished third overall and second in N-GT, with the nr 57 MENX Ferrari 360 Modena of Robert Pergl, Yannick Schroeder and Jaroslav Janis third in N-GT and sixth overall.

The Zakspeed Motorsport Chrysler Viper finished fifth with Didier De Radigues, Kurt Mollekens and Pedro Lamy sharing the driving, and won the G2 category for National GT competitor. Land Motorsport, with a Porsche GT3 Cup driven by Sylvie Delcour, Peter Scharmach, Christian Land and Loic Deman finished twelvth overall and won the G3 class for cars from Single-Make series.

In the 19th hour of the race, the nr 15 Lister Storm lost significant amounts of time when it came in with a broken wheel hub, which was changed. The car rejoined, having fallen down to 7th position overall, still third in GT. With additional pit stops over the next hour, the car dropped to 12th. Just before 10:45, the race saw a major turnaround for the race. The nr 1 Larbre Viper, which had closed to within 1:17 of the leading nr 50 Porsche, came past the pit straight going slowly. Vincent Vosse, at the wheel, brought the car into the pits on the next lap and the car was pushed back into the garage, for a gearbox change, which would lose them at least half an hour. This meant that with five hours remaining, there were three N-GT cars in the top four. The nr 22 BMS Ferrari moved up to second place at 11:05, leading the GT category ahead of the nr 24 Paul Belmondo Racing Viper and the nr 1 Larbre. In N-GT, the nr 50 Freisinger Porsche led, ahead of the nr 72 Seikel Porsche and the nr 57 MENX Ferrari. The nr 7 Saleen S7-R, driven by Thomas Erdos, had a rear left puncture and then lost a wheel at the pit entry on its way back to its garage. The car is now back out on the track.

The Larbre Viper came back out onto the track at 11:24, rejoining in 7th position, with Vosse well down on the race leader, but setting the fastest lap times on the track at this point of the race.

Fine drizzle started at approximately 12:23, becoming rapidly heavier at various parts of the track. A number of cars came into the pit lane to get rain tyres, including the leading GT car. The nr 89 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari, the last of the classified N-GT cars, spun and continued.

The showers continued to vary in intensity, but by 13:20, the rain had stopped and at 13:40, Patrick Huisman, in the nr 1 Larbre Viper, was the first to move back to slick tyres. Soon afterwards, the car spun after a near collision with the nr 89 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari, which also spun. However, it was lapping consistently faster than the nr 126 Zakspeed car in front of him, and the car moved into fourth place at 14:51.

With 44 minutes remaining, the nr 11 Roos Optima Chrysler Viper GTS-R lost the rear left wheel, and had to make careful progress back to the pits, rejoining in the same position, as the last GT car classified. With just 25 minutes left, the nr 1 Larbre Viper unlapped itself from the nr 72 Seikel Porsche, which it was chasing in an attempt to take third overall. Lapping around 13 seconds a lap quicker, the car has to gain nearly 7 km on the car in front in the remaining time.

With just 15 minutes to go, there was a problem with the leading nr 22 car, which came to the pits with an overheating engine, due to a radiator leak. The leak was sealed with silicon gel and the car rejoined, having a lead of 2 laps over the nr 72 Seikel car in third place. The last few minutes were therefore far from easy, with a heated battle for second and third places in the overall classification between the nr 22 Ferrari, the nr 72 Porsche and the nr 1 Viper.

When the flag fell, the nr 50 Freisinger Porsche won ahead of the nr 22 BMS Ferrari and the nr 72 Seikel Motorsport Porsche. The nr 1 Larbre Competition Chrysler Viper was fourth overall, second in GT, and the nr 126 Zakspeed Viper was fifth, and winner of the G2 category for National GT cars. The nr 24 Paul Belmondo Viper was sixth overall and third in GT, followed in the class by the nr 15 Lister Storm, the nr 7 Graham Nash Saleen and the nr 11 Roos-Optima Viper. In N-GT, the nr 57 MENX Ferrari finished in a fine third place, ahead of the nr 53 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena, the nr 74 Eurotech Porsche, the nr 66 Autorlando Porsche and the nr 89 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari.

In the points, Biagi and Bobbi continue to lead the GT Drivers Classification with 50 points, ahead of Bryner and Calderari on 39, with Gollin and Cappellari on 38. Andrea Piccini, whose Lister Storm finished fourth in GT, is the first non-Ferrari driver in 7th place, with 31 points. BMS Scuderia Italia, with 88 points, cannot be caught this season, as Lister Racing is 41 points behind them, with 40 points remaining.

In N-GT Ortelli and Lieb, who have now won three consecutive races, now have a lead of 13.5 points over Fabrizio De Simone, whose nr 53 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena finished fourth, along with his team-mates Iradj Alexander and Luciano Burti. Freisinger Motorsport also has a lead of 19.5 in the Teams Classification, ahead of Team Maranello Concessionaires, whose nr 89 Ferrari 360 Modena was the last of the N-GT cars to be classified, Jamie Davies , Darren Turner and Guy Smith scoring two points for seventh.

-fia-

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