2001 Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy
Round 6 - Nurburgring
Timely win for Charriol and Clerico
The sixth round of the Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy, held at Germany's famous Nurburgring, gave a crucial first ever overall win to Philippe Charriol, partnered by Emmanuel Clerico (Riverside) and to Vincenzo Tirella/ Vittorio Zoboli (Mig Power), the latter moving into a joint championship lead with the Gianni brothers who struggled all weekend. The Gentleman Drivers section saw problems for Stephane Lang-Willar translated into a new leader, Lee Cunningham (Riverside) thanks to success in the first of the two Nurburgring races.
Tirella/Zoboli Master The Ring
Saturday's Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy action at the Nurburgring started before the field had even crossed the line with poleman, Stephane Lang-Willar spinning off into the pit wall. The Frenchman had struggled with his car in the warm-up lap, aquaplaning on the progressively wet track, before again losing control at the beginning of the start/finish straight. As the rest of the field crossed the line for the start of the race, it was VIP guest driver and Auto Trend Chief Editor, Stephane Lemeret who led into the first corner with Mig Power's Vincenzo Tirella and Auto Kremer's Wido Roessler hot on his heels. However, with debris still on the circuit from Lang-Willar's accident, the Safety Car was brought out and the field continued in formation for a full four laps.
Lap five saw the green flag out and Tirella muscled his way past Lemeret at the Veedol Chicane for the race lead. The Gianni brothers meanwhile had started from the back of the grid following on 'off' in the qualifying session earlier in the day. Pietro Gianni steadily began picking his way up through the field and by the time pit stops commenced on lap nine, was running in fourth overall. Britain's Lee Cunningham started his race from eighth on the grid and, with main rival, Lang-Willar out of the race, was conscious of his need to finish and pick up as many points as possible. By lap nine, he lay in fifth - a position he was to maintain after the pit stops and to the end. Philippe Charriol meanwhile drove a sensible race in the atrocious conditions finishing his stint in eighth.
Tirella's hard work paid off and he handed his Diablo GTR over to Vittorio Zoboli not only in the lead, but with a commanding advantage over the rest of the field. Keeping a safe distance between himself and the pursuing pack, the former Jordan F1 test driver continued unchallenged crossing the line a full ten seconds in the clear. The win enabled the Italian pair to regain the championship lead ahead of previous championship leaders, the Gianni brothers who took the chequered flag in sixth place overall.
Said Zoboli, "That was a great race, we had a good set-up on the car and with Tirella giving me the car in a good position, I just had to finish. We needed those points so it was a good result for our championship challenge."
The race for second was on though, as Roessler handed over to Frank Kremer and Charriol to Emmanuel Clerico. Clerico hounded the German, following in his wake and observing which of the Nurburgring's corners was going to prove his Achilles Heel. His patience soon paid dividends and on the penultimate lap, took his chance to take Kremer at the circuit's final corner, the Coca-Cola Curves.
"I didn't want to risk going off in these conditions so I stayed behind Kremer for a few laps to see where he was slowest. The final corner was the only safe place for me to get him," commented Clerico, who partnered Philippe Charriol for the first time this year.
Frank Kremer crossed the finishing line third overall, ahead of the consistent pairing of Fabio Santaniello/Raoul Meyer. Top gentlemen finisher was MRI sponsored Lee Cunningham with VIP guest driver, Lemeret second (seventh overall) and Gerard Larrousse third (eighth overall). Cunningham's result gave him a four point lead in the Gentlemen's standing ahead of Lang-Willar.
"My weekend hadn't gone so well up until the race but with Lang-Willar out, I knew I had to bring the car home in one piece to get as many points as possible, which I did. A good result," said the Briton.
Win for Charriol
On a wet but drying Nurburgring today, Sunday, tyre choice proved a crucial factor in the second of this weekend's Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy rounds. Official timekeeping sponsor of the series, Philippe Charriol finally took his first win of the season with new co-driver, Emmanuel Clerico having started their race on slicks, a bold but correct choice. Poleman, Kremer however chose to start on wets and realising his mistake, came into the pits at the end of the warm-up laps to change to slicks. He started his race in pitlane giving Clerico a clear run over the line. However, the initial advantage did go to those on wets with Clerico losing out at the first couple of corners to first Zoboli and Santaniello and then Sospiri and Michele Gianni.
The Frenchman commented, "We had waited until the very last minute to make a tyre choice and having spoken to a couple of other drivers, decided to go with slicks. It gave us a good start and although I let the first few cars through on the first lap, after that when the track dried, I knew I would catch them."
At the front of the field, the battle for track position was beginning to heat up with Sospiri on a charge up from a grid position of sixth to third by the end of the first lap. By lap three, Sospiri had taken second place from Santaniello in a bold move prior to the Veedol chicane. One lap later, Sospiri mounted his successful challenge for the lead, overtaking Zoboli in an inspirational move down the inside at the Dunlop hairpin. Clerico was also back in the frame by then, also taking Zoboli on the same lap.
VIP guest driver, Stephane Lemeret meanwhile pulled over with a broken drive shaft whilst lying seventh overall. Also of note was the spirited drive by Leaseplan Manager, David Velay. Taking advantage of Sospiri's wet tyres going off, Clerico took the lead with Velay second as pit stops began.
By the time the pitstop window had closed, Clerico handed over to Charriol who went on to keep the lead by an impressive margin all the way to the finish line. Stephane Ratel had crept up to second, only to pull over on lap 22 with an ABS problem. The Zoboli/Tirella car also had problems of it's own, not finishing the race due to gearbox problems. The Gianni brothers, in need of points for their championship challenge, made the crucial mistake of wrong tyre choice at the start of the race and that, combined with a slow pit stop, saw them playing up in tenth position. Someone without problems, though, was Gerard Larrousse who drove a consistent race behind Clerico and Frei (/Velay).
As the chequered flag fell after 27 laps, positions saw Clerico take his first ever overall win with the Velay/Frei car in second and Larrousse in third. Larrousse also took top gentleman driver's points with the Belgian pairing of Lorent/DeWinter finishing fourth overall and second in class ahead of Eschmann/Spadacini. British driver, Lee Cunningham paid the penalty for his wet tyre choice, finishing in overall eighth place.
Championship standings after round six now see a joint lead at the head of the table with both the Gianni brothers and the Zoboli/Tirella pair on 80 points. Lee Cunningham and Santaniello/Meyer share third place on 74 points, only six ahead of fifth placed, Charriol/Clerico. Cunningham's race finishes however, in the absence of main rival Lang-Willar, see him take the lead in the Gentlemen's Trophy for the first time.
<pre> Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy Round 6 - Nurburgring (D)
Race 1 (23 laps)
1 Zoboli (I)/Tirella (I) Mig Power 50:26.705 2 Clerico (F)/Charriol (F) Riverside +10.245" 3 Kremer (D)/Roessler (D) Auto Kremer +14.800" 4 Santaniello (I)/Meyer (I) Mig Power +31.935" 5 Cunningham (GB) Riverside +39.986" 6 Gianni (I)/Gianni (I) Mig Power +47.403"
Race 2 (27 laps)
1 Clerico (F)/Charriol (F) Riverside 51'48.281" 2 Velay (F)/Frei (CH) Autovitesse +28.522" 3 Larrousse (F) Larbre Competition +31.230" 4 Lorent (B)/DeWinter (B) Autovitesse +56.337" 5 Eschmann (D)/Spadacini (F) Classic Car +58.614" 6 Kremer (D)/Roessler (D) Auto Kremer +1'14.101"
Overall positions after 6 rounds:
1= Tirella/Zoboli 80 points 1= Gianni/Gianni 80 3= Cunningham 74 3= Santaniello/Meyer 74 5 Charriol/Gounon/Clerico 68 6 Lang-Willar 61
1 Cunningham 129 2 Lang-Willar 119 3 Brisset/Larrousse/Berville 94 4 Spadacini/Eschmann/Lemm 92 5 Lorent/DeWinter 88 6 Mhitarian/Sevin/Boccara 50