2001 Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy
Round 7 (Final Round) - Valencia - October 27/28
Gianni Brothers Take 2001 Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy
Podium finish for World Superbike star, Troy Corser
The final round of the 2001 Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy saw a fierce battle right to the end and with no less than eight teams capable of taking the overall title this weekend, victory in Valencia was always going to be hard fought. However, in an impressive display of tactics, it was the Italian brothers, Michele and Pietro Gianni who took this year's overall trophy despite not winning a race all weekend. Britain's Lee Cunningham took the Gentlemen's trophy ahead of rival Lang-Willar in this, his first year in the championship. Race 1 honours went to Neugarten and Larrousse in a stunning display of speed and teamwork whilst a win in Race 2 gave Tirella and Zoboli some consolation for missing out on the overall trophy. World Superbike ace, Troy Corser impressed on his GTR Supertrophy debut taking the third place podium position in Race 2 on Sunday.
Neugarten/Larrousse Tame the Bull in Spain
There was no holding back on Saturday afternoon as the first of the weekend's two races got under way and it was Belgian GT star, Michel Neugarten and his partner, Gerard Larrousse (Larbre Competition) who stole the show from the incredibly unlucky pairing of Frank Kremer and Wido Roessler (Auto Kremer). World Superbike star, Troy Corser made a storming GTR Supertrophy debut in the Lamborghini VIP car. Having put his knowledge of the Spanish circuit to good use in qualifying, which saw him line up second on the grid for Race 1, the Australian finished in overall fourth position.
As the grid of eighteen Lamborghini Diablo GTRs rolled over the start line with joint championship leader, Pietro Gianni on pole and Troy Corser alongside, it was Wido Roessler who made the most of his getaway. As they approached the first corner with Gianni holding his lead, Roessler went straight down the middle for second with Corser feeling the heat and giving way. "Going into the first corner at the start, that was just something else!" exclaimed Corser afterwards.
It went on to be an incident filled opening lap with a coming together between Riverside's Lee Cunningham (current Gentlemen's leader and overall championship contender) and Mig Power's Vincenzo Tirella (joint championship leader) playing havoc with their respective championship hopes. Tirella came off worse and had to limp back to the pits with a right rear puncture and ABS system damage. The Italian rejoined the race but later retired and despite struggling round with an ill handling car, Cunningham also retired from the race on lap 14.
The leaders meanwhile, the Gianni brothers, lead right from the start until coming in for their driver change on lap 16 when they lost out to the charging Kremer. So as the second half of the race commenced, Kremer lead followed by Michele Gianni and Michel Neugarten. Hot on their heels was Max Pigoli and Corser.
A move on lap 26 by Neugarten for second place proved a decisive moment. In a cruel twist of fate, race leader Kremer pulled over on the very last lap with a broken driveshaft handing Neugarten/Larrousse the win. The Gianni brothers took the chequered flag in second place followed by Pigoli/Meyer and a delighted Corser. Top Gentlemen finishers were Eschmann/Spadacini in overall sixth place followed by DeWinter/Lorent and Lang-Willar. The day's events proved crucial ensuring the overall championship positions would be taken right down to the wire.
Tirella/Zoboli Finish Season On a High Note
With championship points closer than ever as the sixteen car grid lined up for Sunday's Race 2, it was a case of who could keep their cool in the hot Spanish heat would come out victorious. With Tirella and Zoboli not finishing Race 1, they had to push as hard as they could and hope that the rest of the field would suffer misfortune. It wasn't going to be their day though and with the Gianni brothers driving a solid race giving them the championship title, the Italian pair had to console themselves with the final win of the season and overall runners up spot.
As the Diablos got under way for the start of the final race of the season, it was poleman Clerico and Italian Supertouring star, Pigoli, who were battling for track position. Clerico won through and as the rest of the field headed round for lap one, it was Clerico followed by Pigoli, Zoboli, Kremer and Corser. After trading places a couple of times, lap five saw Zoboli eventually make a successful move on Pigoli who seemed to struggle for the remainder of the race gradually dropping down the field. Corser meanwhile lost out to both Velay and Michele Gianni who was by this time steadily working his way up.
Pitstops commenced at the end of lap 12 with Cunningham, Spadacini and Sevin all coming in together. Sunday's race saw Sevin partnered by a new driver, Puren as a result of Race 1 damage. Race leader, Clerico meanwhile, had built up an extensive lead of 13 seconds by the time he pitted handing over to his co-driver, Charriol. Their hard work was not to be rewarded though as an ABS problem resulted in the Frenchman spinning off into a gravel trap just two laps in to his stint. With it went any hopes of their taking the overall championship.
Working his way up the field by this time was Gentlemen's title contender, Cunningham. The Brit was later to benefit from Wido Roessler's off on lap 19 whilst under pressure from the pursuing Frei and by lap 21 he was in overall fifth position with main rival, Lang-Willar behind in tenth. Roessler/Kremer's hopes were further dashed when, stuggling with handling problems, the car spun off again putting them out of the race on lap 24. Tirella meanwhile was storming away at the front of the field having inherited the lead from Charriol and despite valiant efforts from Pietro Gianni who was being hounded by the third placed Corser, the Italian romped home to a decisive win after 29 laps.
With the Giannis finishing second and the non points scoring Corser in an impressive third, the top three were followed over the finishing line by lead Gentleman driver, Cunningham, Velay/Frei (Pro), second placed Gentleman, Lang-Willar and third placed Gentlemen, DeWinter and Lorent. The results saw the Gianni brothers take the overall 2001 Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy ahead of Tirella/Zoboli and Meyer/Pigoli/Santaniello. Pietro Gianni becomes the first driver to win the Gentlemens and Overall championships in consecutive years.
Dedicating their success to their late grandfather, an ecstatic Michele Gianni said; "What a great result! We knew Pigoli had problems so we pushed that little bit harder and before we knew it, we were lying second. Corser was incredibly hard to keep behind though - I take my hat off to him, it was very close. The car was absolutely perfect and we have to thank the Mig Power team for that." A disappointed but resilient, Tirella and Zoboli commented, "It is a great shame for us but at least winning the race is a good way to finish the season."
The Gentlemens trophy went to the delighted Cunningham followed by Lang-Willar and Eschmann/Spadacini. Following his success, Cunningham later commented, "I felt bad about yesterday's incident with the Tirella/Zoboli car but fortunately today's race was clean and when Zoboli made a couple of moves I let him through and concentrated on the Gentlemens trophy. A fantastic way to finish the season."
<pre> Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy Round 7 (Final Round) - Valencia (E) - 27/28 October 2001
Race 1 (29 laps) 1 Neugarten (B)/Larrousse (F) Larbre Competition 50'32.504" 2 Gianni (I)/Gianni (I) Mig Power +3.644" 3 Pigoli (I)/Meyer (I) Mig Power +10.119" 4 Corser (AUS) Auto Kremer +13.485" 5 Clerico (F)/Charriol (F) Riverside +19.721" 6 Spadacini (F)/Eschmann (D) Classic Car +53.965" 7 Velay (F)/Frei (CH) Autovitesse +57.310" 8 DeWinter (B)/Lorent (B) Autovitesse +1'6.981" 9 Lang-Willar (F) Riverside +1'11.270" 10 Sevin (F) Larbre Competition +1'13.635"
Race 2 (29 laps) 1 Zoboli (I)/Tirella (I) Mig Power 50'49.738" 2 Gianni (I)/Gianni (I) Mig Power +4.825" 3 Corser (AUS) Auto Kremer +5.162" 4 Cunningham (GB) Riverside +36.062" 5 Velay (F)/Frei (CH) Autovitesse +38.782" 6 Lang-Willar (F) Riverside +55.334" 7 DeWinter (B)/Lorent (B) Autovitesse +55.920" 8 Larrousse (F) Larbre Competition +59.374" 9 Sevin (F)/Puren (F) Larbre Competition +1'6.901" 10 Pigoli (I)/Meyer (I) Mig Power +1'27.585"