RUSSIAN AGE RACING CRUELLY DENIED IN DUBAI
The Russian Age Racing team came to within 21 minutes of winning the tenth round of the FIA GT Championship in Dubai, before a transmission failure stopped Frenchman Christophe Bouchut in his Cirtek Motorsport-run Aston Martin DBR9. Bouchut, with his co-driver Stephane Ortelli, started from pole position and were on course to score their team's first ever outright FIA GT Championship victory having led for much of the race, before the mechanical glitch stopped the car by the side of the track.
The team was still investigating the cause of the problem two hours after the event. "I'm gutted" said Cirtek team owner Rob Schirle. "It was going so well, we had a good lead, and then he didn't come round. We will need a new gearbox for Bahrain next Friday, then we'll try again to get that win." Antonio Garcia will join the team for the second leg of the Arabian adventure.
Bouchut led from pole position, his car raising a rooster tail of desert dust which coated the Dubai Autodrome after a morning storm, and gradually increased his lead over Mike Hezemans' GLPK Chevrolet Corvette. After opening the gap to 8.6 seconds the Frenchman eased off, wanting to drive the full hour so as to make only two pit stops, and his lead was just five seconds when he entered the pit-lane.
The first problem stuck when the car rose on its air jacks and promptly dropped back to its wheels, needing a second prompt to get up. It was a minor hitch, soon reversed when Hezemans made his stop two laps later, and by half distance Stephane Ortelli had extended a substantial lead of 24 seconds over Bert Longin, in the Corvette.
"I don't mind the problem with the jack" said Ortelli, "I loved it because it gave me a job to do! It is the best car in the race." The Safety Car was deployed when Jan Vonka's Porsche broke a driveshaft, depositing co- driver Manfred Jurasz across the track on three wheels, and if anything Bouchut benefited from the situation, going 12.7s ahead of Anthony Kumpen shortly before the Aston's transmission failed.
Russians Alexey Vasiliev and Nikolay Fomenko were delighted to finish ninth in their Russian Age Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello and scored another point in the drivers' championship. "The Ferrari is beautiful" said Fomenko. "It is so reliable, it runs like a clock, tic-toc, tic-toc!"
The long-awaited victory will have to wait, maybe for seven days.