Watkins Glen, NY (October 3, 1999) - David Donohue and Jean-Philippe Belloc capitalized on their teammates misfortune to win the ninth round of the FIA Grand Touring Championship on the challenging 3.37-mile Watkins Glen long course. The...
Watkins Glen, NY (October 3, 1999) - David Donohue and Jean-Philippe Belloc capitalized on their teammates misfortune to win the ninth round of the FIA Grand Touring Championship on the challenging 3.37-mile Watkins Glen long course.
The pair of thirsty V-10 Team Oreca Chrysler Vipers needed a last minute splash-and-go fuel stop to complete the scheduled 93 laps. An extraordinary long fuel stop for the No. 1 Viper of Olivier Beretta and Karl Wendlinger allowed the No. 2 car to take the lead, a position it held for the final six laps.
"I'm not disappointed. I'm very happy for David because it's his home track. We made (positions) one and two and I am very happy," said second place finisher Beretta.
Although the No. 1 car experienced gearbox problems, which may have led to excessive fuel use, the fuel stop still seemed a bit too long. "I was watching just like everybody else," said Donohue. "Their pit stop took longer than ours, for whatever reason, I don't know if a vent jammed or something."
The pair of Vipers stayed together throughout the first two stints. When Belloc returned to the car for his final stint, the No. 1 enjoyed a ten second advantage. "Our second stop created a big gap because I came in within site of Karl (Wendlinger)," said Donohue. "When J.P. (Belloc) went back out we were ten seconds behind. The next stop overdid the reverse. I was just watching like everybody else. I was standing back. You tend to stand back when they're refueling."
Belloc led the first lap from his pole position but the second Team Oreca car screamed by at turn one as the pair started the second lap. "I was very careful for the first two or three laps because I had some problems to warm my tires," said Belloc. "I took a slow pace and Olivier was quicker. After that it was possible to follow him but during the first three or four laps it was very difficult for me."
Wendlinger felt that his No. 1 Viper was the car to beat all day. "The car was working very well right from the beginning. It was very easy to do quick laps because the car was able to do so. When I gave the car to Olivier he was in the lead again but we knew we had to do an extra pit stop."
Team Oreca has won eight of the nine rounds of this year's FIA Grand Touring Championship. After such a successful season, Wendlinger took today's long pit stop in stride. "During this year there were a couple of times a pit stop took longer than it should take. So also this time it took a little bit longer. Maybe there was a little problem with the fueling, I don't know. Our team finished first and second and that was a great success."
The final round of the FIA Grand Touring Championship takes place on November 28 at Zhuhai in the People's Republic of China.