Larbre win FIA GT Appeal and Championship
FIA's Christmas Present For Gardel -- A Championship!
Gabriele Gardel, from Lugano in Switzerland, will tonight be officially crowned 2005 FIA GT Drivers' Champion after the FIA's International Court of Appeal found in favour of Larbre Competition's appeal against exclusion at the final round of the Championship in Bahrain two weeks ago. The race results had, until today, been provisional following the decision by the Stewards to exclude Gardel and Pedro Lamy's Ferrari 550 after post-race scrutineering. Larbre immediately appealed the decision and the hearing was held yesterday in Monaco.
The outcome draws a conclusion to one of the most successful years ever for Care Racing and its stable of Prodrive-built Ferrari 550 Maranellos. Care Racing's cars, in the hands of partner teams Larbre Competition and BMS Scuderia Italia, have won five championship titles in 2005 (FIA GT, 2 x LMES, 2 x Italian GT), as well as taking three victories in the FFSA French GT Series.
For Larbre Competition's principal, Jack Leconte, the announcement brought an end to two very stressful weeks. Using the benefits of a law degree and 7 years' worth of experience in the legal profession as well as his many years in the motorsport industry, he built a strong case for Larbre's appeal and was delighted with the outcome.
"Today I consider that justice has been done, and Gabriele now has the Championship that he and Larbre deserve. The last two weeks have been very stressful, but none of that matters now and I am very, very happy.
"From the time of the Stewards' announcement in Bahrain, my 'real' job started in preparing an excellent case to present to the FIA. With great help and support from Care Racing and Prodrive, including lawyer Simon Taylor, we did that yesterday during the two and a half hours of the hearing.
"Every time Larbre has entered a full season of the FIA GT Championship, we have won a Championship title which is a fantastic 100% record, especially when I have sometimes had to make miracles with 'peanut' budgets. I think for the Championship this is the right result, as well as for Gabriele - who never cracked even under extreme pressure -- and Pedro, who was with him for as many races as he could be. Today we are kings of the world. Well, for a few weeks anyway!"
Gabriele Gardel, en route to Monaco, was overcome with emotion when he received Jack Leconte's call. "It's really fantastic news and the best possible Christmas present for Jack, the team, Care Racing, Prodrive and for me - for all of us. We won on the track and now we've won again and can celebrate properly! For Care Racing it is their third FIA GT title in a row, and it just shows what a wonderful car the Ferrari 550 is."