HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- The Oreca Team Viper juggernaut came to a grinding halt in Sunday's Sports Car Extravaganza at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Privateer Viper owner/Driver Paul Belmondo derailed the factory team's 12-race winning streak, joining Emmanuel Clerico in victory circle following round eight of the FIA GT Championship.
While the team of No. 1 Viper drivers Karl Wendliner and Olivier Beretta finished second, 57 seconds behind, they managed to capture the series championship with two races remaining.
Wendlinger won the pole for the three-hour event, and pulled away for an early lead before cutting a tire. The team lost nearly two laps due to the incident, but Beretta managed to make up the deficit and was leading when he pitted under caution at the half-way point. A pit road penalty cost the team a lap, and Wendlinger could never make up the deficit.
Clerico and Belmondo ran in the top four throughout the event on the 2.21-mile road circuit, battling the second Oreca Viper of David Donohue and Jean-Philippe Belloc throughout the majority of the race. The independent team managed to get Clerico out of the pits ahead of Donohue following their final stops, and Clerico gradually pulled away, leading Donohue by 22 seconds as the race neared its conclusion. The second Viper ran out of fuel on the penultimate circuit, allowing Chamberlain Viper drivers Vincent Vosse, Hans Hugenholtz and Zavier Pompidou to take third.
The Donohue-Belloc entry was classified fourth, with Freisinger Porsche 911 GT2 drivers Wolfgang Kaufmann and Bob Wollek capturing fifth.
The first of five American-based teams running in an invitational class was the Porsche 911 GT2 team of owner/driver Larry Schumacher, John O'Steen and Cort Wagner, who placed seventh overall. The Bell Motorsports BMW M3 team of Andy Pilgrim, Ron Johnson and Scott Neuman placed 11th, and led the American GT3 entries.
The Mosler Intruder of Joao Barbosa ran third in the early going, before a clutch problem and pit fire left them sidelined after 30 minutes.
Steady showers on Friday and Saturday slowed Wendlinger's pole-winning speed to 84.242 mph, with conditions dry for Sunday's action. Other events were the Porsche Owners Club, won by Bill Adam in a Porsche 962; Keith Scharf in the Spec Racer Pro Series; and Todd Snyder in the Barber Dodge Pro Series.