Belicchi singing in the rain A superb performance all round from the drivers, as they battled with the elements and each other in Saturday's Grand Race. Top of them all came Belicchi (AFC Motorsport), who took his second win of the season ahead...
Belicchi singing in the rain
A superb performance all round from the drivers, as they battled with the elements and each other in Saturday's Grand Race. Top of them all came Belicchi (AFC Motorsport), who took his second win of the season ahead of Bell (David Price Racing) and Sharp, who would later be penalized 40 seconds.
The spectators were treated to an amazing show in the first race of round six, with plenty of run-offs and contact. The action started as the lights went out, as Danielsson went all guns blazing to pass poleman Jani (Dams), with Belicchi right behind. Sharp chose the outside line but went too wide, as Jani left the door open for Belicchi (AFC Motorsport) and Danielsson (SRTS), who moved into the lead.
After lap one it was Danielsson (SRTS) then Belicchi, followed by Jani, Barth and Bell. Sandström (SRTS) and Pasini made contact and came into the pits. But there was more to come on lap three, as Campaniço (Cram Competition) and Sharp (Jenzer Motorsport) touched, with Proetto (EuroInternational) unable to avoid them. There was plenty of damage, with Campaniço losing his rear wing, Sharp suffering a smashed nose cone, and a wrecked car for Proetto's car. The Safety Car was called out onto the track, with Danielsson leading the field followed by Jani, Bell and Belicchi, who had run off the track after a battle with Barth.
As the Safety Car peeled off, a few spots of rain could be felt. Danielsson fell victim to gearbox trouble, passing the number one spot temporarily to Jani. With Bell attacking from the right and Belicchi from the left, the Italian finally came thought to take the lead before pitting to fit rain tyres. As the rain stepped up a gear, Bell came in for his pit-stop, which did not go smoothly. But that was nothing compared to Jani, who came in as his team were not expecting him, forcing him to rejoin the track and return to the pits the next time around. By this time the leaders were pulling away, with Belicchi, Sharp and Bell already widening the gap.
Bell moved up past Sharp on Lap 13, but couldn't catch Belicchi, who, despite running wide onto the grass, held a seven second lead over Bell and a comfortable 26 in front of Sharp.
Further back, the fight for points was relentless, with Montanari (Victory Eng. SpA) in fourth after a masterful performance and Mondini moving all the way from last on the grid to sixth, just behind Van Lagen (Interwetten.com), who would later be given a 20 second penalty.
But the race didn't end at the chequered flag, as the numerous claims and disputes about the events trackside led to long discussions behind the scenes.
By the end of Saturday evening the decision had been made to give Sharp a 40 second penalty and also penalize Van Lagen 20 seconds.
Fourth over the line Montanari therefore steps up onto the podium, with Mondini taking his place in fourth.
Sharp's team, Jenzer Motorsport, immediately lodged an appeal against the stewards' decision, making the race results and the overall standings provisional while we wait for the final decision by the appeal judges.
<pre> Race classification 1) Belicchi 45'12''812 138.72 kph 2) Bell 10''392 3) Montanari 31''151 4) Mondini 50''244 5) Martinez Leon 53''742 6) Shimoda 57''986 7) Lorgere Roux 01'05''005 8) Van Lagen 01'09''278 9) Sharp 01'10''046 10) Jani 01'21''230