2001 Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy
Round 3 - Spa (B) - 8/10 June
Gianni strengthens series lead
One win each for Piettro Gianni (Mig Power) and the Riverside team of Michel Neugarten/Kurt Thiers marked a good weekend of racing at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, as the third round in this year's Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy. Two strongly fought races saw Gentleman Drivers honours shared between Britain's Lee Cunningham (Riverside) and Frenchman Stephane Lang-Willar (Riverside). Gianni strengthened his championship lead overall ahead of Neugarten/Thiers in second place, with Lang-Willar consolidating a strong lead of the Gentleman Drivers championship.
Gianni wins Spa opening race
Pietro Gianni consolidated his series lead when he won the 20-lap first race on Saturday. The Mig Power team driver stormed into an impressive lead during the opening laps, building a 20 second advantage over Kurt Thiers (Larbre Competition) and Stephane Ratel (Larbre).
"Thiers passed me at the end of the straight on the first lap, then he was slowing me for the next two. He made a mistake and that let me take second place," said Ratel, who later spun out into a gravel trap on the sixth lap.
Meanwhile Raoul Meyer (Mig Power) lost places each lap until he retired on lap four with suspension damage. Stephane Lang-Willar was next into the pits to retire with frontal damage caused by a coming together with a door-closing Wido Roessler (Auto Kremer) - the incident put Lang-Willar's Gentleman Driver's championship lead under threat.
Driver changes began after eight laps, with Gianni leading from Thiers and lead Gentleman Driver, Lee Cunningham (Riverside). Whilst most changes had taken place, Gianni stayed out, building enough of a race lead to maintain overall control even during his own stop in the 28th minute. He exited pitlane with a healthy 19 second advantage.
Frank Kremer replaced Roessler and pushed hard, passing Cunningham for third place: "then the team told me to cruise as second placed Michel Neugarten was out of reach ahead of me." Behind the deposed Cunningham, Philippe Charriol (Riverside) moved up to fifth when handling problems took their toll of Vittorio Zoboli (Mig Power): "we suffered big set-up problems with understeer and just drove to finish - we will make some changes before Sunday's race."
After 20 laps (52 minutes) Gianni celebrated victory in his solo drive (brother Michele missing this race), with Neugarten/Thiers second and the Roessler/Kremer car third, one pace ahead of solo winning Gentleman Driver, Cunningham.
"It was extremely tiring," said Gianni. "I pushed hard for the first few laps because I knew later in the race that Neugarten would put me under some pressure. The Diablo GTR was perfect and that let me ease off to enjoy my leading margin towards the end of the race and to save my tyres for Sunday.
Neugarten shows the way home
Sunday's 50 minutes race belonged to the Larbre Competition Diablo GTR of Michel Neugarten and Kurt Thiers, winning in front of a home crowd at a packed, sunny Spa circuit. Just like the Gianni car did the day before, the silver Lamborghini never left the number one spot throughout the 19-lap race, eventually seeing Fabio Santaniello/Raoul Meyer climb from the back of the grid to take second place after an impressive drive. Third went to Vittorio Zoboli/Vincenzo Tirella (Mig Power) with top Gentleman Driver position going to Stephane Lang-Willar (Riverside) in fourth position overall and allowing him to extend his series lead.
At the rolling start Neugarten led away and held a three second advantage by the end of the first lap, a lap which saw Lee Cunningham's race ending when something broke in his gearbox on the formation lap: "disappointing as it stopped me trying to draw level at the top of the Gentleman Drivers points."
Already on a charge was Fabio Santaniello moving from the back of the 20-car grid to hold 13th place with one lap gone. He continued to pick his way through the field and held an impressive second place after just seven laps. Kremer meanwhile spun out of second place in lap four: "my mistake, Zoboli was behind and I was trying to pull more of a gap to him. I lost the rear of the car and I was into the barrier - that's what happens when you push too hard at the front of the field."
Zoboli lost second place to Santaniello and fell to fourth behind Jean Marc Gounon (Riverside). "The car is still not right," said Zoboli. "We made some changes which has cured the understeer but instead has given us oversteer - but it was worth fighting for third place."
Driver changes started in lap 9 and when they concluded on lap 12 Thiers swapped with Neugarten and lost time when the door would not close properly, but still had over 20 seconds in hand to Raoul Meyer who took over from Santaniello: "Fabio did a great race from last on the grid when our time was disallowed in qualifying. He gave me the car in second place and I just had to sit tight and wait for the chequered flag taking no chances at all."
Lang-Willar was quietly moving through the field after a spin on the second lap cost him seven places: "I just lost the front left and that put me down to 16th place. I had to fight hard to climb to fourth at the finish and make my lead of the Gentleman Drivers even stronger."
At the flag Thiers took the race win from Meyer, Tirella and Lang-Willar with opening race winner Pietro Gianni fifth after a race struggling having taken the best out of his tyres on his way to victory the previous day. <pre> Race 1 - Saturday, 9 June - 20 laps 1 Pietro Gianni (I) 52:16.558 2 Kurt Thiers (B)/Michel Neugarten (B) 52:23.558 3 Franck Kremer (D) 52:33.717 4 Lee Cunningham (GB) 52:38.616 5 Philippe Charriol (F)/Jean-Marc Gounon (F) 53:09.775 6 Peter Wyss (CH)/James Ruffier (F) 53:10.237 7 Vincenzo Tirella (I)/Vittorio Zoboli (I) 53:18.585 8 Luc De Winter (B)/Cedric Lorent (B) 53:18.589 9 Patrick Brisset (F)/Gerrard Larrousse (F) 53:57.742 10 Alexander Frei (CH)/David Velay (F) 54:36.070
Fastest lap - Gounon/Charriol - 2:30.769 (166.379 km/h)
Race 2 - Sunday, 10 June - 19 laps 1 Neugarten/Thiers 50:00.788 2 Santaniello/Meyer 50:36.164 3 Zoboli/Tirella 50:50.944 4 Lang-Willar 51:05.347 5 Gianni 51:07.185 6 Lorent/De Winter 51:35.211 7 Gounon/Charriol 51:39.721 8 Stephane Ratel (F) 51:45.499 9 Michael Eschmann (D)/Patrick Spadacini (I) 51:56.202 10 Larrousse/Brisset 52:10.467
Fastest lap - Neugarten/Thiers - 2:29.715 (167.550 km/h)
Supertrophy Overall points (after 3/7 rounds): 1 Gianni/Gianni 51 points 2 Neugarten/Thiers 46 3 Zoboli/Tirella 42 4 Charriol/Gounon 39 5 Lang-Willer 34 6 Meyer/Santaniello 24
Supertrophy Gentleman Drivers points (after 3/7 rounds): 1 Lang-Willar 67 points 2 Brisset/Larrousse/Berville 47 3 Cunningham 45 4 Spadacini 44 5 Lorent/De Winter 38 6 Engel 24