2001 Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy Round 4 - Magny Cours - July 28/29
Tirella/Zoboli Take Championship Lead
Vincenzo Tirella/Vittorio Zoboli (Mig Power) re-took their early season lead of the 2001 Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy at Magny Cours in France at the weekend, moving ahead of an absent Michele/Pietro Gianni (Mig Power) and Michel Neugarten/Kurt Thiers (Larbre Competition). A consistent drive from the Italian pair gave them a three points advantage to take away from this fourth round of the championship. Stephane Lang-Willar (Riverside) continued his lead in the Gentlemen's championship but is now under pressure from Lee Cunningham (Riverside). Victory in the first (Saturday) race went to Frank Kremer/Wido Roessler (Auto Kremer), but a broken throttle cable put paid to their second (Sunday) race, instead attention was centred on Cunningham, taking his first outright race win of the series.
Kremer/Roessler Draw First Blood
The German driver pairing of Frank Kremer and Wido Roessler took an impressive victory in race one of the Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy at Magny-Cours in France on Saturday.
As the Lamborghini field blasted across the start-line, it was Stephane Lang-Willar who took advantage of pole position and led his main rival for the Gentlemen Driver title, Lee Cunningham, into the first corner with Roessler in third place.
A couple of mistakes from Lang-Willar in the opening laps saw him receive the black and white warning flag on lap 8 for repeated cutting of the chicane before finally receiving a stop-go penalty a couple of laps later. Cunningham meanwhile took advantage, leading laps 11 and 12 before losing out again to Lang-Willar. As the Frenchman came in to make his compulsory pit-stop from the lead there was some confusion in the pit-lane, which resulted in his having to make a second, unscheduled stop, dropping him to fifth place. Roessler meanwhile had driven a consistent trouble-free race enabling him to hand his Diablo over to teammate Kremer in third place.
Lang-Willar's earlier misfortune allowed Cunningham to retake the lead but when the Briton came in for his pit-stop the German took the lead. A great car set-up on Kremer's Diablo meant that he was able to pull out a 13 second lead over the second place pair of Fabio Santaniello and Raoul Meyer, who had taken the place with a great driver change.
Lang-Willar's bad luck had not ended though. Contact with Jean-Marc Gounon at the final corner meant a trip through the gravel trap before he could take the chequered flag in sixth place overall and second in the Gentleman driver category. Vittorio Zoboli and Vincenzo Tirella crossed the line in third place ahead of Cunningham and Gounon, giving the Italian pairing an overall championship lead. A great drive by French journalist Thierry Etienne in the VIP car saw him make up three places during the first half of the race before handing over to former Grand Prix star Rene Arnoux, who brought the car home in seventh place overall behind Lang-Willar. Kremer and Roessler were understandably happy with their race on performance.
Frank Kremer commented, "Wido drove a great first part of the race and after our changeover all I had to do was find my own pace. The car was really easy to drive and towards the end I could see I had time in hand and eased off to save the tyres for Sunday. Hopefully we will have a great chance to win again tomorrow. I will be starting from second on the grid but we will have to wait and see."
Saturday's race saw all drivers battling against the extreme temperatures in their Diablos with outside temperatures reported to be approximately 37 degrees in the shade.
First Win of Season for British Season Debutant Cunningham
Briton Lee Cunningham took his first win of the season in a thrilling second race at Magny Cours on Sunday 29 July, closing the gap in the Gentlemen's championship on leader Stephane Lang-Willar.
As the grid of roaring Diablos rolled down the start/finish straight for the opening lap of the race, the first casualty of the day had already been claimed. Race one winner, Kremer fell foul of starter motor problems and was pushed back into pitlane and although he rejoined the race, a broken throttle cable put paid to his race hopes. Meanwhile the real battle had commenced between Mig Power poleman, Santaniello and Riverside's Jean Marc Gounon as the pair traded places no less than three times with Gounon finally coming out on top on lap 10 with a stunning overtaking move at the last chicane of the circuit.
"I think I could have gone faster but I didn't want to ruin the tyres before handing over to my teammate, Philippe Charriol," commented Gounon.
Pitstops started at the end of lap 12 with Lee Cunningham coming in having gained two places from eighth on the grid to sixth overall. Main rival, Frenchman, Lang-Willar stayed out longer waiting until lap 15 to make his compulsory stop alongside the Mig Power car of Vittorio Zoboli who had been struggling with his set-up. Lap 16 saw all three cars at the head of the field pitting together with Gounon handing over to Charriol, Santaniello to Raoul Meyer and David Velay to Alexander Frei. Former Grand Prix star, Rene Arnoux meanwhile showed he still had the touch and, having inherited third position with the demise of Kremer, drove a consistent race to hand over the car in fourth place to Le Figaro journalist, Thierry Etienne also at the end of lap 16.
The second half of the race immediately saw Meyer pick off Charriol to take the lead on lap 18 and whilst Charriol struggled to maintain his top position, Cunningham began his podium charge on lap 18 first taking Etienne, followed by Frei two laps later and Charriol two laps later further (on lap 23) down the start/finish straight.
Gentlemen's Championship leader, Lang-Willar was having a torrid time in the meantime spinning off on lap 25 although he was fortunate not to lose valuable places and points. His battle with Etienne continued to rage with the journalist keeping a cool head and climbing ahead of Lang-Willar, Charriol and finally Frei on the final lap giving the Arnoux/Etienne pairing a hard earned and well deserved third place on the podium.
Cunningham put in his final charge two laps from the end overtaking Meyer for the lead and taking his first win of the season: "I couldn't have asked for a better result this weekend especially going into my home round at Donington next month. I made some changes to the car yesterday which helped through the faster parts of the circuit and I also found more time myself. It's the first time I've been to Magny Cours and I just tried to drive a consistent race conserving tyres. I really feel that I'm getting on top of the driving now but I know there is more to come from me yet."
With Cunningham finishing first ahead of Santaniello/Meyer and Arnoux/Etienne, the championship standings have shifted considerably over the weekend. Tirella/Zoboli, despite a disappointing race two result keep their overall championship lead ahead of the absent Gianni brothers and joint second place holders, Gounon and Charriol. The Gentlemen's standings see Lang-Willar hold on to his lead from Cunningham who now lies 18 points in arrears. Spadacini and Eschmann lie a further 20 points behind in third. <pre>
Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy Round 4 - Magny Cours (F) - 27/28 July 2001
Race 1 (28 laps)
1 Kremer (D)/Roessler (D) Auto Kremer 50' 54.834" 2 Santaniello (I)/Meyer (CH) Mig Power +8.401" 3 Zoboli (I)/Tirella (I) Mig Power +17.223" 4 Cunningham (GB) Riverside +18.107" 5 Gounon (F)/Charriol (F) Riverside +26.844" 6 Lang-Willar (F) Riverside +40.550"
Race 2 (27 laps)
1 Cunningham (GB) Riverside 49' 56.889" 2 Santaniello (I)/Meyer (CH) Mig Power +4.922" 3 Arnoux (F)/Etienne (F) Lamborghini +13.054" 4 Velay (F)/Frei (CH) Autovitesse +13.876" 5 Lang-Willar (F) Riverside +19.224" 6 Gounon (F)/Charriol (F) Riverside +20.382"
Overall positions after 4 rounds:
1 Tirella/Zoboli 54 points 2 Gianni/Gianni 51 Charriol/Gounon 51 4 Meyer/Santaniello 50 5 Lang-Willar 48 6 Neugarten/Rapetti 46
1 Lang-Willar 96 2 Cunningham 78 3 Spadacini/Eschmann 58 4 Lorent/De Winter 56 5 Brisset/Larrousse 47 6 Mhittarian/Sevin 28