Brno: Round five race report

As always, the Automotodrom Brno gave the FIA GT Championship an exciting race, made even more unpredictable by the weather, with a heavy shower drenching the track mid-race. The challenging circuit saw victory go to Larbre Competition - which...

As always, the Automotodrom Brno gave the FIA GT Championship an exciting race, made even more unpredictable by the weather, with a heavy shower drenching the track mid-race. The challenging circuit saw victory go to Larbre Competition - which has won every race it has contested at the Czech circuit. Pedro Lamy and Gabriele Gardel took their second joint win of the season, to propell Gardel into the Championship lead for the very first time. A varied podium saw JMB Racing's Maserati of Wendlinger and Bertolini take second, after a spirited race up from the back of the grid, while GPC Sport claimed its first podium finish of the year. In GT2, Marc Lieb made it three out of three in Brno when he and Mike Rockenfeller were victorious in their GruppeM Porsche, ahead of the Austrian team Renauer Motorsport, with a Porsche driven by Wolfgang Kaufmann, Manfred Jurasz and Petr Valek, and Czech team Vonka Racing third for Vonka and Casadei.

Every time Larbre Competition has come to Brno, the team has won, and 2005 proved to be no exception. Jack Leconte's Ferrari 550 Maranello, in the capable hands of Gabriele Gardel and Pedro Lamy, was running well in the early stages of the race, but really came to the fore when it started to rain. Gardel took the lead, pulling out a healthly margin. Handing back over to Lamy for the final stint, the car crossed the finish line with a lead of 58 seconds over the second-placed car, the nr 15 Maserati MC 12 of Bertolini and Wendlinger, which had started from the back due to an engine change. This second win of the season has placed Gardel in the lead of the Drivers Championship, the first time the Swiss driver has been in this position. "I do not want to say that I've taken the lead of the Championship - we've taken the lead, as I share the car with Pedro, and with Fabrizio Gollin in Silverstone, so it's for them too," Gardel said. Team Owner Jack Leconte was delighted : "I love Brno, every time I come I win. Now we have a good result in the Championship, we are leading at this time, and we are now heading for Spa, which is also a very good place for Larbre."

After suffering a major crash on Friday in Free Practice, the nr 15 JMB Racing Maserati MC 12 bounced back, following plenty of work from the team, to take second place in qualifying. However, an engine problem relegated the car to the back of the grid. But the car quickly recovered, being up in 8th place by lap 15. Steady driving in the rain saw the car move into second place, which it kept until the flag. "I am very pleased with the result," Karl Wendlinger said. "I gained some time in my stint, and was able to give the car back to Andrea in second position. It was a very good race considering we started last, and after having all those problems in free practice. We are very happy, we had a very good pit strategy, we had good stops and always had the right tyres at the right time - perhaps we were a little lucky too."

GPC's Ferrari 575 M Maranello claiming its best result yet, the nr 3 car of Melo and Belloc taking third place, making up for their disappointment in Imola. With the Corvette C5-R of GLPK Carsport finishing fourth, this means that the top four places were taken by four different cars, representing three different manufacturers. "This is a fantastic result for us, to finish on the podium," Belloc said. "Jaime did a fantastic job in his stint; it is really good to be back on the podium."

After the fifth round of the Championship, Vitaphone Racing Team is still in the lead of the GT1 Teams Championship, with a lead of two points over JMB Racing. Larbre Competition is only 11 points behind. The next round in Spa will be vital, as double points are on offer, allocated after six, twelve and twenty-four hours.

Philipp Peter, in the nr 16 Maserati, started from pole and led the field away. However, the first lap took a number of casualties, when the nr 6 Corvette spun, sending the nr 10 spinning in avoidance, and collecting the nr 13 Lamborghini and the nr 2 GPC Ferrari 575 M Maranello in the process. Only the Corvette rejoined, running a relatively uneventful race to finish fourth.

Bouchut, in the nr 17 Ferrari, was on a charge in the early stages, picking off the cars in front of him and taking the lead on lap 14. He continued to pull away, while Philipp Peter dropped back, suffering with his tyres, leaving the nr 9 Vitaphone car in second.

The rain started after 22 laps; the cars gradually came in for wet or intermediate tyres. Gardel, in the nr 11, fought hard for the lead from Bartels, in the nr 9 Maserati, pulling out a lead. He was followed by Vasiliev in the Russian Age Ferrari, with the nr 3 GPC car also coming up to make it a Ferrari one-two-three. On lap 43, Wendlinger overtook Belloc for third. The nr 9 Vitaphone car lost time due to problems with the air-jack,which meant that an extra, long, pit-stop. Despite Scheider setting the fastest lap of the race once he was back out on slicks, the car finished fifth.

Lamy took over from Gardel, keeping the lead built up in the wet until the finish line, finishing ahead of Bertolini in the nr 15 Maserati and Melo in the nr 3 GPC Ferrari 575 - making three different types of car on the podium. The nr 16 Maserati took sixth, with the Lister Storm seventh after a good race, and the nr 17 Russian Age Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello taking the final point for eighth, after shining in the first two thirds of the race.

Marc Lieb and Mike Rockenfeller retained the lead of the GT2 Championship with another fine win for the young German duo. This is Lieb's third time in Brno, and he has won on each occasion. "This is my third race here and my third win in the GT2 category," Lieb commented afterwards. "We were a little bit lucky today, as the other car had problems in its second stint. Mike did a good result in intermediate tyres, and I just had to bring the car home. We are looking forward to Spa, and hope we'll have a good race - it will be a close fight with our sister car." The nr 66 GruppeM Racing Porsche 996 GT3-RSR started well, pushed hard in the early stages by the team's second car, the nr 88 Porsche of Collard and Sugden. In the rain, the nr 88 moved into the lead, with the Porsche overtaking GT1 cars in the damp track conditions. However, an overheating engine took the nr 88 out of the race, leaving the nr 66 with a clear run to the end. Second across the line was the nr 86 GPC Sport Ferrari 360 Modena of Belgian drivers Lemeret and Deman, after an excellent performance. However, the car was later excluded due to failing the ground clearance test. This promoted the nr 63 Renauer Motorsport team to second, a fine result for the Austrian team on what is effectively its home race, and a first podium for Manfred Jurasz, who has been competing in the Championship since the very start in 1997. Vonka Racing, fourth across the line after an excellent race for the small Czech team, were promoted to third for their home race. They were followed by the Gerold and Christian Ried in the Proton Porsche the AutoRacing Club Bratislava Porsche of Konopka and Studenic, the Ebimotors Porsche of Moccia and Busnelli, suffering from an alternator problem, with the final points going to JMB Racing Ferrari 360 of Peter Kutemann and Antoine Gosse, making a fine return to the Championship.

British team GruppeM now has a sixty point lead in the GT2 classification, having won all five races so far. Lieb and Rockenfeller have won three races to two for Collard and Sugden, giving the Germans a 15-point lead. Wolfgang Kaufmann, second today, is now lying third behind the Gruppe M driving pairs, with Gerold and Christian Ried one point behind him - making five Germans in the top seven drivers in GT2.


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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Fabrizio Gollin , Karl Wendlinger , Pedro Lamy , Wolfgang Kaufmann , Marc Lieb , Christian Ried , Manfred Jurasz , Peter Kutemann , Mike Rockenfeller , Gabriele Gardel , Antoine Gosse , Jack Leconte , Philipp Peter
Teams Larbre Competition