Brno: Michelin race report

Aston Martin/Michelin and Ferrari/Michelin dominate in Brno As in 2007, Michelin tyres dominated qualifying and the race in the GT1 and GT2 categories at Brno in the Czech Republic. The Aston Martin of Jetalliance Racing ...

Aston Martin/Michelin and Ferrari/Michelin dominate in Brno

As in 2007, Michelin tyres dominated qualifying and the race in the GT1 and GT2 categories at Brno in the Czech Republic. The Aston Martin of Jetalliance Racing (Wendlinger/Sharp) took its third win of the season, while Bruni and Vilander (Ferrari AF Corse) took their fourth GT2 win in seven races.

After their last-minute withdrawal in Bucharest owing to technical problems, the Austrian Jetalliance Racing team returned to action this weekend at Brno. On Saturday, Karl Wendlinger qualified the No.33 Aston Martin on pole, after a stunning lap using Michelin's soft compound tyres. Today, the pairing of Wendlinger/Sharp took their third win of the season, following on from Silverstone and Oschersleben, at the wheel of a competitive car that was running without ballast.

However, the podium positions were only settled in the last five minutes of this seventh round of the championship. After its two pitstops, the No.33 Aston Martin/Michelin was running second, 36 seconds behind the No.3 Corvette/Michelin driven by an on-form Christophe Bouchut. The Frenchman completed an incredibly fast hour- long stint, securing the fastest race lap (with a time of 1m 53.221s) at the very end of the race. However, the No.3 car had only made one pitstop and had to make a mandatory second visit to the pits.

The 36-second lead proved insufficient. Although the team didn't change tyres, the No.3 Co rvette emerged from the pits behind the No.33 Aston Martin and with the two Corvette/Michelin cars of Phoenix Racing breathing down its neck!

During the last two laps, this trio of Corvettes indulged in a battle royal. Driving car No.6, Mike Hezemans manage d to get past Xavier Maassen, who had taken over the wheel of No.3 from Bouchut. As they crossed the line, the three Corvette/Michelin cars were covered by less than a second!

The second Aston Martin/Michelin car of Jetalliance Racing (Muller/Lichtner-Hoyer) finished in fifth position, having spent much of the race fighting over second with the No.5 Corvette. The Aston nevertheless finished ahead of the two Vitaphone Racing Team Maserati MC12/Michelin cars, which were severely handicapped by running a large amount of ballast this weekend. The No.2 Maserati (Ramos/Negrao) climbed back up to seventh place after getting tangled up in a first-corner incident, which also delayed the Gigawave Motorsport Aston Martin/Michelin (Simonsen/Peter) and several GT2 competitors.

In the GT2 category, the No.50 Ferrari of Toni Vilander and Gianmaria Bruni has dominated the 2008 season. The drivers took their fourth win from seven races ahead of the No.79 Porsche/Michelin driven by Janak/Bergmeister. The Porsche 997 GT3 cars performed strongly this weekend, particularly the No.61 car (Collard/Westbrook), which ran in second place for much of the race before a minor collision damaged the radiator, causing the engine to overheat. The second AF Corse Ferrari (Biagi/Montanari) climbed back up to fourth place in GT2 after also being delayed by the incident at the start.

Gerard Bombled (Endurance and FIA GT Programme Manager, Michelin Competition): "Brno was resurfaced for this year, and it meant we were taking a bit of a step into the unknown. In the end, the circuit has more grip than previously, and is less aggressive for the tyres. We encountered a range of conditions this weekend, with high temperatures during qualifying and cooler weather today for the race, with an air temperature of 15o.C and a track temperature of 22o.C. Some GT1 cars qualified on soft tyres (Aston Martin No.33) and changed to the medium compound at the first pitstop. However, the Corvettes completed the full race distance on soft tyres, and Christophe Bouchut's incredible stint proved that this compound offered good performance and consistency. The GT2 competitors used the medium compound, and the No.51 Ferrari ran the entire race on a single set."

-credit: michelin

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Gianmaria Bruni , Karl Wendlinger , Mike Hezemans , Christophe Bouchut , Toni Vilander
Teams AF Corse , Phoenix Racing