The 2001 Danish Touringcar Championship went right down to the wire with a nail-biting finish at Jyllands-Ringen, where reigning champion Michael Carlsen managed to defend his 2000 title from former Formula 3000 star Jason Watt. The two ...
The 2001 Danish Touringcar Championship went right down to the wire with a nail-biting finish at Jyllands-Ringen, where reigning champion Michael Carlsen managed to defend his 2000 title from former Formula 3000 star Jason Watt.
The two title-contenders had qualified their Peugeot 306 GTIs first and second respectively for the qualification race, and as the lights turned green it was Watt who made the better start to pull alongside pole-man Carlsen who had the better inside line. As the pair headed towards the first tight left-hander the two rivals collided, but nevertheless managed to regain control of their cars. Carlsen could thus take the lead from Watt.
"We certainly didn't agree on who was going to lead the race. It was very hard, but I had a clear idea that I wanted to be in front," Carlsen said.
"There was some oil-absorbing material on the outside line, so I knew that if I had wide line, it would ruin my chances," Watt commented." I had better accellaration than Carlsen, and as we ran side-by-side I knew that I would get into trouble if I took the outside line. So actually it was just a question of staying on the tarmac."
Watt, however, lost some momentum in the process, and midway through the opening lap he lost second place to Pierre Legarth, who had made a marvellous start from fifth on the grid in his BMW 320i. Also on the move was Kent Bo Lauridsen, winner of the previous round of the series. Having qualified his Team Brask 306 GTI in ninth place, Lauridsen was up into fifth place at the end of lap one, and on the next lap he managed to pass British FF1800 regular Ronnie Bremer, who was substituting for Jan Magnussen as team-mate to Jason Watt. Lauridsen now closed the gap to Watt, whom he outbraked on lap three to take third place.
Further down the field Volvo S40 driver Martin Jensen had held sixth place, but as he suffered a blown engine Pierre Legarth's older brother, Mike, took over this position with Per Poulsen, Jesper Sylvest, Michael Schröter and Casper Elgaard making up the top 10.
At the front Pierre Legarth started to move closer to the leading Michael Carlsen midway through the race, the gap between them coming down to less than a second. Behind them Lauridsen held on to third place in front of Watt, while Mike Legarth passed Ronnie Bremer for fifth place on lap nine. Starting the 12th and last lap, Pierre Legarth had reduced the gap to Carlsen to a mere 0.2s, and he duly outbraked the race-leader at the end of the straight to take his first race win of 2001.
For race two Pierre Legarth retook the lead, this time from brother Mike who had made the best start to get past Carlsen, Lauridsen and Watt in one go. As the leaders went into the first corner, Carlsen and Watt elected to take different lines, and this was to the benefit of Watt who went up to third place with Bremer and Carlsen behind. Despite making a mediocre start Carlsen was obviously faster than Watt's rear-guard and team-mate Bremer, whom he started to put pressure on at the end of lap two. Half a lap later Carlsen made his move when he pulled alongside Bremer to take over fourth place.
At the front Pierre Legarth had pulled out a smaller margin on Mike Legarth, but after four laps the gap started to get narrow again, and then on lap nine Mike went past Pierre to go into the lead." Mike was lapping quicker than me, so I just let him get by," Pierre Legarth explained about the lead-swapping position.
But despite sticking to the rear-bumber of Mike Legarth's car, Pierre Legarth soon found it difficult to just hold on to second place, as he was now getting the full attention of Jason Watt, who needed to finish with a cushion of cars between himself and Carlsen in order to wrap up the title. Carlsen himself did not have an easy time, however, as his fourth place was also being contested by Jesper Sylvest and Ronnie Bremer, the top six now covered by just 2.8s at the end of lap 11. Two laps later Watt finally managed to pass Pierre Legarth, and he thus took second place, which he only managed to hold onto for three laps, before the position was retaken by the BMW driver who was clearly the fastest driver on the circuit.
Mike Legarth had for long been unchallenged at the front, but with a few laps to go Pierre Legarth again got closer, setting the race's fastest lap on the penultimate lap. But he never got close enough the challenge his older brother. Behind them Watt was still running third from Carlsen, but the latter elected to settle for the championship rather a top four race position, when he moved over to surrender fourth place to Watt's team-mate, Ronnie Bremer, and cross the finishing line in fifth position, which handed him his second DTC title with a 3.5 points advantage to Watt.
"It has meant a lot for me to win this year's championship, and it is an even greater thing than last year," a jubilant Carlsen said after the champagne shovers." At the start of the year the Danish Touringcar Championship was predicted to become the most closely-fought championship in the history of Danish motor racing, and I am really proud to have won it!"
Rival Jason Watt was less jubilant, but still managed to smile.
"I'm of course a bit disappointed right now. I'm satisfied about my race results today, but I'm not satisfied with my place in the final championship positions," Watt commented." Earlier in the year I had some silly incidents, which I really should have avoided, if I should have taken the championship. I raced to exploit my chance, but in the first heat my power-steering broke, so I had to race with both hands on the steering-wheel, which was quite difficult when I also had to hand-brake."
Third place in the championship was as closely contested as the battle for the title. Despite qualifying in a lowly 11th position, former champion Jesper Sylvest soon managed to move his Citroën Xsara Coupé VTS past the Brask Peugeot 406 Coupé of rival Casper Elgaard in the first heat. In the second heat Elgaard didn't manage to challenge Sylvest, who could take sixth place in the race and grab third overall with a margin of 4.5 points. <pre> Qualification race 1. Pierre Legarth BASF Motorsport BMW 320i E46 10.14,161 2. Michael Carlsen Michael Carlsen Peugeot 306 GTI 10.14,590 3. Kent Bo Lauridsen Team Brask Peugeot 306 GTI 10.18,374 4. Jason Watt Peugeot Statoil Peugeot 306 GTI 10.19,235 5. Mike Legarth Legarth Racing Team BMW 320i E36 10.19,701 6. Jesper Sylvest Sylvest Motorsport Citroen Xsara Coupe 10.20,172 7. Ronnie Bremer Peugeot Statoil Peugeot 306 GTI 10.20,657 8. Casper Elgaard Team Brask Peugeot 406 Coupe 10.21,737 9. John Nielsen McDonald's Nissan Nissan Primera 10.25,201 10. Per Poulsen S40 Racing Volvo S40 10.28,640
Final race 1. Mike Legarth Legarth Racing Team BMW 320i E36 16.43,128 2. Pierre Legarth BASF Motorsport BMW 320i E46 16.43,465 3. Jason Watt Peugeot Statoil Peugeot 306 GTI 16.46,856 4. Ronnie Bremer Peugeot Statoil Peugeot 306 GTI 16.47,581 5. Michael Carlsen Michael Carlsen Peugeot 306 GTI 16.48,789 6. Jesper Sylvest Sylvet Motorsport Citroen Xsara Coupe 16.49,703 7. Casper Elgaard Team Brask Peugeot 406 Coupe 16.50,895 8. John Nielsen McDonald's Nissan Nissan Primera 16.59,234 9. Thorkild Thyrring McDonald's Nissan Nissan Primera 17.07,411 10. Jens Enemark BlueTel RacingAhead Citroen Xsara Coupe 17.09,802
Fastest lap: P. Legarth, 49,151s / 108.034 kph.