Brno: Race report

The winding and undulating Brno circuit, almost universally popular with the drivers, hosted another exciting round of the FIA GT Championship on its 5.403 km circuit. The fifth round of the 2004 season saw the second win for Germany's Vitaphone...

The winding and undulating Brno circuit, almost universally popular with the drivers, hosted another exciting round of the FIA GT Championship on its 5.403 km circuit. The fifth round of the 2004 season saw the second win for Germany's Vitaphone Racing Team and the Saleen S7 of Bartels and Alzen, while new Italian team GPC Giesse Squadra Corse claimed its first-ever win, for Pescatori and De Simone in the Ferrari 360 Modena. Both teams, which had dominated their classes in Hockenheim before being struck by bad luck, were therefore able to savour victory in the Czech Republic !

VITAPHONE RACING TEAM WINS AGAIN

Dominating the race from the start, the nr 5 Vitaphone Racing Team Saleen S7 took its second win of the year, surviving a last-hour scare when it lost a wheel. The black and green Saleen of Germans Uwe Alzen and Michael Bartels crossed the finish line almost 30 seconds ahead of the nr 17 JMB Racing Ferrari 575 M Maranello of 1999 Champion Karl Wendlinger and his new team-mate, Jaime Melo of Brazil. Championship leaders Gollin and Cappellari were third, despite carrying 100 kg of penalty weight, while their team-mates Bobbi and Gardel, lying second for most of the three-hour race, pulled out just laps from the end, an engine problem having caused their fuel consumption to soar.

"When I saw what happened to the wheel, I spoke to the team and told them," Uwe Alzen explained. "I had to come in and we changed the wheel, and then there was a 12-second-gap to the leader. But the Pirelli tyres were in great condition and the car was good, so it was not too hard to overtake them. For me, this is a great victory, and a great job from the team and Pirelli!"

Fourth place went to the nr 11 GPC Giesse Ferrari 575 Maranello of Peter and Babini, with the Creation Autosportif Lister Storm fifth. The Konrad Motorsport Saleen, minus its multiple pole-sitter Walter Lechner Jr this weekend, finished a steady race in sixth, ahead of the BMS Care Racing Ferrari, which had been a front-runner for much of the race, but fell back due to throttle problems. Taking the final point for eighth was the nr 18 JMB Racing Ferrari of Longin, Khan and Robert Lechner.

In the classification, Gollin and Cappellari still lead after five races, with Bobbi and Gardel joint third, nine points behind. Karl Wendlinger is fifth, with 21 points, one ahead of today's winners Alzen and Bartels. In the Teams Championship, BMS Scuderia Italia has pulled out a lead of 55 points ahead of GPC Giesse and JMB Racing, both on 26. The Vitaphone Racing team is fourth. For the next round, at Donington on June 27th, Gollin and Cappellari will stay on 100 kg, with the nr 1 Ferrari and the nr 5 Saleen both on 40 kg, and Wendlinger's Ferrari 575 M on 30 kg.

The results of the race remain provisional, pending final scrutineering on the race-winning nr 5 Vitaphone Saleen S7.

FIRST-EVER WIN FOR GPC GIESSE SQUADRA CORSE

After the disappointment in Hockenheim, the N-GT race at Brno saw the nr 62 GPC Giesse Squadra Corse Ferrari 360 Modena finally take its first win, with Christian Pescatori and Fabrizio De Simone dominating the race throughout. They crossed the line nearly 30 seconds ahead of the battling Porsche 996 GT3-RS cars of Maassen/Luhr and Ortelli/Collard, who enlivened the race with a thrilling nose to tail, side by side fight of the kind more usually seen in sprint races.

"It was a race without problems for us, so I'm very happy," Christian Pescatori said afterwards. "I am happy for me, for Fabrizio, for the team, and for Pirelli. They all did a lot for this victory. This is a good circuit for Pirelli, particularly the new Pirelli tyres. I hope the situation will be similar in Donington!"

The all-Russian line-up of Vasiliev and Fomenko took fourth place after a steady race, with Proton's Porsche fifth and Czch team Vonka Racing sixth. JVG Racing and Slovakian team Machanek Racing took the points for seventh and eighth. In the Classification, Ortelli, Collard, Maassen and Luhr are all tied on 38 points in the lead of the Championship, with De Simone and Pescatori just 6 points behind. The cars will all have a similar weight for Donington Park, as the two Freisinger Porsches will be on 50kg, and the nr 62 Ferrari on 40kg, making for yet another close and exciting race.

In the Teams Championship, Freisinger Yukos Motorsport has 54 points, 16 ahead of Freisinger Motorsport and 22 ahead of GPC Giesse, both of which only have one car. Proton Competition is lying fourth, ahead of Czech team Vonka Racing.

The Race Story

Vitaphone and GPC dominate their classes
In the early stages of the race, the nr 5 Vitaphone Saleen and the nr 62 Ferrari 360 Modena both took the lead and dominated the first stint. The nr 1 BMS Ferrari managed to keep up with the Saleen, pulling out a gap from the two other BMS cars, while Philipp Peter in the nr 11 GPC Ferrari leads a train of five cars fighting for fifth. Alzen sets the best lap so far on lap 2 : 1: 59.426

Alzen pulls away ; Wendlinger moves up
On lap 11 Wendlinger finally overtook the nr 11 GPC Ferrari; the nr 27 Lister Storm also moved up to sixth. Alzen began to open up a lead, lapping over a second quicker than the rest of the GT cars. By lap 27, he had a lead of 20 seconds

First pit stops : no change at the front; Melo impresses
There were no dramas during the first round of pit stops, and the situation after everyone had stopped was nearly identical to before the stops. On his first GT race, Jaime Melo was fighting with the nr 3 and 2 BMS cars, overtaking Cappellari for fourth and then moving up to third place on lap 47 when the nr 3 Care Racing pitted with throttle problems. Lap 47 : 5 -- 1- 17 -- 2 -- 11 -- 3 -- 27 / N-GT : 62 -- 99 -- 50- 77

Ortelli and Luhr battle for second in N-GT A thrilling fight took place for second place in N-GT, with Ortelli in the nr 50 car and Lucas Luhr in the nr 99 fighting nose to tail, side by side for many laps. After three laps of trying, Ortelli took second place on lap 54, but Luhr did not give in, and the cars continued to push each other, Luhr finally regaining the upper hand on lap 60. The N-GT positions were then fixed until the end of the race, 27 laps further on.

Alzen loses a wheel; Bobbi in P1
After setting the fastest lap of the race on lap 61, with at time of 1:59.417, the Vitaphone Saleen S7 appeared to be cruising towards victory, with a lead of 34 seconds on lap 65, when on lap 74 it dramatically lost a wheel. The car made its way back to the pits on three wheels, and rejoined with a deficit of 12 seconds, Bobbi in the nr 1 BMS Ferrari having taken the lead.

The Saleen catches up and retakes the lead
Alzen rejoined and started to charge up the field. He shaved approximately three seconds per lap off the gap separating him from Bobbi in the leading Ferrari 550 Maranello, and easily overtook on lap 80, continuing to pull away. With the nr 17 JMB Ferrari 575 in third, it looked as if the podium had been settled.

Drama for BMS, victory for Vitaphone and GPC
On lap 84, the nr 1 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello pulled into the pit lane and stopped near the entry, after an engine problem had caused it to use fuel much too rapidly. The car retired. On lap 87, Alzen, in the nr 5 Saleen, took the chequered flag, giving Vitaphone its second-ever win, ahead of the nr 17 JMB Racing Ferrari 575 M Maranello of Wendlinger and Melo, with the nr 2 BMS Ferrari 550 Maranello third GPC Giesse Squadra Corse's Ferrari 360 Modena of Pescatori and De Simone crossed the line to give the team its first-ever win, ahead of Maassen and Luhr in the nr 99, and Ortelli and Collard in the nr 50 Freisinger Porsches.

The results remain provisional, pending final scrutineering on the nr 5 Vitaphone Saleen.

-fia-

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Karl Wendlinger , Christian Pescatori , Lucas Luhr , Uwe Alzen , Michael Bartels , Jaime Melo , Robert Lechner , Philipp Peter
Teams Proton Competition