Ortelli leaves Honda with season finale victory

The last round of the Argentinian Touring Car Championship (TC 2000) took place this weekend at the Mar del Plata Speedway. Guillermo Ortelli with a factory Honda Civic took the season close while the podium was completed by Norberto Fontana ...

The last round of the Argentinian Touring Car Championship (TC 2000) took place this weekend at the Mar del Plata Speedway.

Guillermo Ortelli with a factory Honda Civic took the season close while the podium was completed by Norberto Fontana driving his Toyota Corolla and Christian Ledesma gaving another interesting third place for the Chevrolet Astra.

The category arrived to Mar del Plata with the championship already closed in hands of Ford and Gabriel Ponce de León. However many things still with no definition like the sub-championship between Walter Hernández, Juan Manuel Silva and Fontana.

Ortelli and the Honda Racing Argentina completely dominated everything since the qualifying session with Ortelli in the top followed by his teammate Martín Basso, Fontana, Gabriel Furlán and Silva taking the top five places.

The main event of sunday started as always at 12.40 with the 28 machines ready for it final exam of the year.

Basso was the first with problems with an egine failure that put him in the back when the green light appeared.

Ortelli quickly took the first position always with Fontana and Furlán, second and third, trying to reach the leader.

Silva, fourth, proposed an slow rhytmn in the beginning of the competition that forced many cars to be really close each other. Until lap 11th. when Oscar Fineschi with a priviteer Civic hit the works Honda leaving Silva out of the argued for good points and Fineschi with a drive - through penalty.

A lap later the Pace Car made it only appearence of the day due to an accident between both young drivers, Franco Lorenzatti and Fabricio Pezzini.

In the re-start in 15th. lap, Fontana iniciated a hard attack against the lader. However Ortelli once again showed why he had everything under control and built again a gap with the former champion who nothing could do in his try to leave the number 1 with a victory.

The Ford Focus were already fourth and fifth in the classification while the Chevrolet ProRacing team driver, Ledesma, was sixth after start the race from 23th. place in a great recovering.

Fineschi is a real fighter and one more time showed why. Despite he was penalysed, the driver-team owner returned to track 19th. Any other competitior would think that is the end, but he never gave up and iniciated another race from the back trying to reach good points being the faster car of the competition.

By haflway through Omar Martínez retired with a flat tyre and said god bye of the Toyota team. The 1998 champion`s future in TC 2000 seemes to be complicated for 2004 season.

Ponce de León and Ledesma gave a great sample of talent fighting for sixth place during 20 laps. Finally in lap 37 Ledesma could overtake the champion who started to felt the tyre ware in his Focus.

While the season entered in their last laps of the year Ledesma became in the fastest leaving behind both Ford and looking for Furlán`s position and the podium itself.

Despite Furlán tried everywhere to keep this third place, it was impossible to follow the rhytmn of the Astra.

The Mitsubishi Lancer couldn`t resist the attack of Hernández and the last winner here scored fifth place.

The last laps were an easy ride for Ortelli waiting for the chequered flag, not the same for Fontana who fought in the last part against Ledesma. The Turismo Carretera 2003 sub-champion completed one his best races in his short experience in TC 2000.

The fourth place was enough for Hernández to take the sub-championship for the third time in TC 2000 ('97, '01 and '03) giving Ford the 1-2 in the final standings.

Ponce de León, 123; Hernández, 110; Fontana, 100; Silva, 92; and Furlán, 78 points.

The words of the top three finishers:

G. Ortelli: ¨The team deserved this for all the work they did. The car had a good rhytmn and I'm leave very happy¨.

N. Fontana: ¨It was a very hard race, the car was a little oversterring in the second half but after all I could keep Ledesma behind. I want a than the team for the car they gave me today and congratulate them for the job done this year¨.

C. Ledesma: ¨We worked from less to more with the team during the weekend and I readlly don't think we could take a podium here in my city. The car behave in a great way. I want a dedicate this to the team and to all that trusted my in the Chevrolet ProRacing team, and of course to the fans¨.

Top ten classification: Ortelli, Fontana, Ledesma, Hernández, Furlán, Fineschi, Satorra, Yannantuoni, Ponce de León and Infante.

Now the TC 2000 will have a break until April 4th. waiting for the start of the 25th. Championship at General Roca. With several changes in the technical rule book to increase side-by-side racing with all the cars using the same elements in suspensions, new anti-roll cages and 18" tyres the category is looking for another succeful season.

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Series General
Drivers Martin Basso , Christian Ledesma , Norberto Fontana , Juan Manuel Silva , Omar Martinez , Guillermo Ortelli , Gabriel Ponce de Leon