Donington Race Report

FIA GT Championship 04 - 06 September 1998 Donington Round Saturday 6 September 1998 - Race Report _________________________________________________________________ Weather Fog settled...

FIA GT Championship 04 - 06 September 1998 Donington Round Saturday 6 September 1998 - Race Report _________________________________________________________________ Weather Fog settled over the 4 km Donington track this morning, lifting slightly as the cars came out for the morning warm-up. The weather remained a significant factor throughout the race, as overcast skies and grey clouds made rain a definite possibility. There was a short shower during the 125 lap race, making the track damp and tricky, although not sufficient to force the drivers in for rain tyres. Warm-up Schneider and Webber, in the # 1 AMG Mercedes, set the best time, with a lap of 1:25.663. "It should be a good race," Webber said. "I hope AMG wins, but it'll be a close fight." They were closely followed by McNish and Dalmas in the Porsche AG n° 7, "The car is the best we can do," McNish said. "The big question is the weather. I am very experienced here in the wet, and it doesn't bother me - so I hope for drizzle around lap 10 !" Fastest of the GT2 cars was the Oreca Viper driven by Wendlinger and Bell, with Hürtgen and Ortelli second. "We had a gear-box problem, and they are changing it now. The problem yesterday was that the pipeline to the turbo-boost was damaged, so we did not get the right boost. It should be OK now, but we have to start from the back. We will do our best to finish on the podium." The Start Allan McNish took the lead in an amazing manoeuvre at the start of the 500 km race, as he and his team-mate Uwe Alzen propelled their two Porsche AG cars down the middle of the track, apparently taking Zonta and Schneider by surprise. Schneider dropped down to 8th place, with Zonta following the Porsches. However, McNish was subsequently judged to have overtaken before the start line, and after leading for the first 10 laps, came in to serve a 10 second stop and go penalty. This relegated him to 6th position, and, Schneider having climbed back up the field, the two AMG cars took over the lead of the race. FIA GT Teams Championships decided With AMG Mercedes' double in the GT1 class, and Viper Team Oreca's GT2 win for Beretta and Lamy, both the Teams Championships have been decided at this round. AMG Mercedes have an unbeatable 101 points, while Viper Team Oreca lead second placed Roock Racing by 74 points, with a maximum of 48 points left in play. GT1 : The race Once Schneider took the lead on lap 23, the AMG cars began the process of building up an unassailable lead. The silver duo were chased initially by David Brabham in the DAMS Panoz until Allan McNish climbed back up the field, slotting into third place. The Panoz stopped with transmission problems at the Esses on the 57th lap, and Alzen, having spun into the gravel early on, moved into fourth place. Despite a brief rain-shower, the positions remained the same for the last half of the race, with Schneider crossing the line to take his fifth victory this year. He was followed by Zonta and Ludwig in the # 2 car, with the two Porsche AG cars in third and fourth. Gounon and Tiemann finished in fifth with their Persson Mercedes CLK-GTR, with Hahne and Scheld taking the final point for Zakspeed. GT2 : The race It was a thrilling race from beginning to end in the GT2 category. Marcos kept the lead at the start, closely followed by the two Oreca Vipers. Roock Racing's # 56 Porsche, driven by Stéphane Ortelli, starting from the rear, quickly made his way forward. By lap 11, the four leading cars were nose to tail. Ortelli swept past the opposition to take the lead. After the first round of pit-stops, Pedro Lamy led the category, followed by his team-mates Wendlinger and Bell. The # 56 Roock car was forced into retirement with electronic problems, and it looked as if Oreca were heading for a comfortable double. However, everything changed in the last few laps. Wendlinger, in the # 52 Viper, was awarded a 60 second penalty for an incident with the # 57 Roock Racing Porsche. The Marcos, lying third, was being chased by Alfrid Heger in the 66 Konrad Porsche. Heger overtook Becker, and then, two corners before the end, spun, allowing the Marcos to overtake once more. With the Viper demoted to fourth, this gave both Marcos and Konrad their best results of the season. "What a last lap - fourth to second in one lap," Cor Euser said afterwards. "It was a weird race," his team-mate Christian Vann added. As for Franz Konrad : "It's a tricky circuit and we did our best. Both cars finished in the points. Next race is my home race, and I hope to do even better." Fifth place was taken by newcomers Freisinger Motorsport, with the second Konrad car in sixth. Lamy and Beretta : GT2 provisional Champions The two former Formula One drivers who share the # 51 Chrysler Viper took their sixth victory of the season at Donington Park today, giving Oreca the GT2 Team Championship, and claiming the provisional Drivers Championship themselves. "I have to thank Chrysler and Oreca for their excellent work, and Michelin too, and also my good team-mate Pedro Lamy, who gave me a perfect car for the last stint," Olivier Beretta said. "Last year I lost the Championship by one little moment, and I'm very happy." Exclusion of the n° 58 Roock Porsche The Roock Sportsystem Porsche 911 GT2 n° 58, driven by Hugh Price and John Robinson, was excluded from today's results when the scrutineers found the supercharging pressure to be over the limit. They were classified tenth in GT2. Schneider/Webber : Championship leaders "I had a really bad start - I chose the outside, and someone hit me off," Bernd Schneider said after taking his fifth victory of the season. "I came back in tenth or eleventh place, but I trusted the car and the team, and was confident for a podium finish. In the end, the car was really fantastic, and I had a lot of fun." With AMG Mercedes taking the Teams' Championship for the second year in succession, Bernd went on : "I have to say that the team did a fantastic job - it was a very good effort to win the Championship again. Everything is now open between the drivers for the last three races. You only have to look at Dijon to see that it can be very easy for them to catch up again. It's going to be interesting." Schneider also set the fastest lap of the race, with a lap of 1:25.550 at the very end of the race. "I couldn't get any clean laps," Ricardo Zonta said, finishing second after taking his first pole position. "Many times I crashed with slower cars - maybe three times into GT2 cars today." Klaus Ludwig explained that the rain had given Schneider such a commanding lead. "My windscreen wipers didn't work. After a while, I was really blind, so I had to take it very easy. I lost 19 seconds to Mark in the rain. But after that, everything worked." Quotes "I pushed hard, to the maximum - I can't drive any harder. The car is OK, the tyres are OK, everything is fine. We will have to work harder to catch Mercedes," Yannick Dalmas, Porsche AG. "We did as well as we can do - we started seventh, and finished seventh. All we can do is pick up places. The car is four years old, and time tells !" Geoff Lees, Davidoff McLaren "It's the first time I've driven that long. I'm filled with admiration for anyone who can do two or three hour stints at Le Mans. It was a great introduction, and I hope to be back," Martin Short, Chamberlain Engineering Viper GTS-R - 7th in GT2. "I'm going to drive go-karts : they don't need a starter engine," Bernd Mayländer, Persson Mercedes on their disappointing 8th place finish, after a repeat of the starter problem that first occurred in Hockenheim.

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Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Ricardo Zonta , David Brabham , Franz Konrad , Allan McNish , Yannick Dalmas , John Robinson , Pedro Lamy , Stéphane Ortelli , Bernd Schneider , Bernd Maylander , Uwe Alzen , Klaus Ludwig , Christian Vann , Martin Short , Cor Euser , Olivier Beretta , Geoff Lees , Hugh Price
Teams DAMS , Team Zakspeed