The only possible way to describe the fifth round of the FIA GT Championship is 'action packed'. With temperatures high and the sun shining, the cars and drivers gave the 20,000 spectators lining the Donington Park circuit a thrilling show, with...
The only possible way to describe the fifth round of the FIA GT Championship is 'action packed'. With temperatures high and the sun shining, the cars and drivers gave the 20,000 spectators lining the Donington Park circuit a thrilling show, with a breathtaking three-hour sequence of changes of lead, nose-to-tail battles, daring overtaking manoeuvres and assorted racing incidents. Although both Force One Chrysler Viper GTS-R cars and the nr 14 Lister Storm led the race, and the Konrad Saleen and other Lister Storms looked strong, an assortment of mechanical problems and racing incidents meant that the race result was identical to Brno, with BMS Scuderia Italia and Freisinger Motorsport finishing on top of the podium. Further to the technical scrutineering, the nr 18 Zwaan's Racing Chrysler Viper, originally classified second, was excluded from the results by a decision from the Stewards of the Meeting. Therefore the results of the race remain provisional, pending the appeal by Zwaan's Racing to the exclusion, and engine checks on both the winning nr 23 Ferrari and the nr 18 Chrysler Viper GTS-R.
FIFTH WIN FOR BOBBI AND BIAGI
The two Italian drivers, in their first season of GT racing, continue to dominate the FIA GT Championship, with their seemingly invulnerable Ferrari 550 Maranello. Despite 100 kg penalty weight, and the undoubted speed of the Lister Storm and Saleen S7-R cars, Bobbi and Biagi put in a fine performance to take their fifth win of the season. With a perfect score of 50 points, they have a massive lead of 26 points over their nearest rivals, Care Racing drivers Bryner, Calderari and Livio. Their team, BMS Scuderia Italia, is well ahead of its nearest rivals in the Teams Classification, with Lister Racing trailing by 34 points.
FREISINGER TAKE N-GT TEAMS LEAD
Just like in 2002, Stephane Ortelli's fortunes appear to have changed in the Czech Republic. Last year, his Brno win heralded a series of victories that took him to the N-GT Drivers title, and after winning at the Czech track last month, the driver from Monaco continued the sequence with a win in Great Britain. With the second Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS of Longin and Gardel finishing in a fine third place, the team has moved into the lead of the N-GT Teams classification, while Ortelli and Lieb have 28 points, two behind the leaders Mullen and Davies, and just one behind De Simone and Ortelli. With six drivers within three points of each other, the class is closer than ever, and the upcoming Proximus 24 Hours of Spa should be fascinating.
THIRD FOR FORCE ONE AFTER ZWAAN'S RACING EXCLUDED
The surprise result of the fifth round had to be the second-place finish of Dutch team Zwaan's Racing, with its Chrysler Viper GTS-R -- the first Viper to finish on the podium this season. However, the car was later excluded from the results due to a breach of the technical regulations, further to a modification made after initial scrutineering. The team has lodged an appeal and the results therefore remain provisional. This elevates the Care Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello of Enzo Calderari, Lilian Bryner and Stefano Livio to second. Despite a number of misfire and power-steering problems, the trio managed to keep the car going and took their third third-place finish of the season. Care Racing, despite only having one car, is lying third in the Teams Classification. Third place went to the Force One Festina Chrysler Viper of pole-sitter Alliot, Hallyday and Zacchia, which had looked strong for much of the race, but lost time with two mid-race spins. The Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7-R of Erdos and Newton was provisionally fourth, ahead of the Creation Autosportif Lister Storm, which had run strongly until a long pit stop due to starter problems. The Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7-R finished a provisional sixth in class, after looking certain to finish on the podium until late in the race, with the Roos-Optima Chrysler Viper dropping back from fifth as Magnus Wallinder struggled on worn tyres. The car inherited seventh place after the exclusion of the nr 18 Zwaans' Racing Chrysler Viper, meaning that the nr 22 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari took the final point for eighth.
BEST RESULT OF 2003 FOR RWS-YUKOS
German team RWS-Yukos had its best weekend of the 2003 season today, when a strong performance from Stephane Daoudi and Johnny Mowlem saw their nr 99 Porsche 996 GT3-RS take second place in the N-GT category, giving an all-Porsche podium for the first time this season. The Team Eurotech Porsche of David and Godfrey Jones was fourth, ahead of the nr 88 TMC Ferrari 360 Modena and the nr 80 Veloqx car of Smith and Kirkaldy. The second RWS-Yukos car of Vasiliev and Fomenko finished in seventh place, with the nr 53 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena of Kutemann and Gosse scoring the final point.
THE GT STORY
The Konrad Saleen failed to pull away from the start of the warm-up lap, meaning that Gounon had to start from the back. Hezemans got the better of his team-mate Alliot at the start, and led for the early stages, with Bobbi jumping up from sixth to third, overtaking Alliot and attacking Hezemans for the lead. On lap 15, Bobbi pushed past the Force One Viper and took the lead, but dropped back on the next lap after Hezemans spun, putting Alliot back in the lead. The Konrad Saleen had reached the top runners by this point, but was awarded a drive-through penalty after a collision with Gollin 's nr 22 Ferrari. For the rest of the first hour, the leading cars were involved in a nose-to tail battle, with the top eight cars separated by under 6 seconds on lap 21. Campbell-Walter, in the Lister, had by then climbed up after the grid and took the lead ahead of the nr 4 Viper, with the nr 23 BMS Ferrari following him up into second. Campbell-Walter led for the rest of his stint, handing over to Kinch. But the 21-year old was faced with a charging Biagi, who took the lead on lap 42 and began to pull away. Kinch reacted with some very fast laps, but then came into the pits unexpectedly, retiring with broken steering. This left the nr 23 Ferrari with a significant lead over the nr 15 Lister Storm of Piccini and Deletraz, while the Konrad Saleen, with Seiler at the wheel, moved up to third. The nr 4 Viper had two spins in close succession, dropping behind the Zwaans' Viper. The Saleen moved up to second place, while the nr 15 Lister had problems with a broken break pipe, dropping out of contention. However, just 15 laps from the end, the nr 2 Saleen spun off after a racing incident with the nr 15 Lister, landing in the gravel and dropping down to an eventual 7th place. This left the nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello to cross the line with a lead of over a lap from the nr 18 Zwaan's Racing Chrysler Viper, with the Care Racing Ferrari third.
THE N-GT STORY
The nr 89 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 360 Modena led from pole, but was shortly overtaken by the nr 61 EMKA Racing Porsche 996 GT3-RS. The nr 50 Freisinger Porsche also moved ahead of the leading Ferrari. By lap 30, Emmanuel Collard had a lead of 7.4 seconds over Ortelli, with the nr 89 TMC Ferrari a further 6 seconds behind. After the first pit-stops, Lieb was in the lead, while the nr 88 TMC Ferrari lost a rear wheel at the Old Hairpin. By lap 62, Lieb had pulled out a lead of 25 seconds over Sugden. The nr 61 Porsche then had a long pit-stop due to a transmission problem. This brought the nr 99 RWS-Yukos Porsche into second place, with the nr 80 Veloqx Motorsport Ferrari 360 Modena third. However, vibration problems with the gearbox meant that the Veloqx car made two pit-stops in quick succession, dropping back to sixth, and promoting the nr 51 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche to third, for an all-Porsche podium.
NOTES AND QUOTES
-- nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello : "The first stint was very good. I had a big fight with the two Vipers at the start; I touched Alliot at the first hairpin and a lap later he pushed me out. I went down to sixth place, and tried to catch Gollin. I pushed very hard and passed four cars, but I could not pass the Lister, as he was very fast. Then Thomas took over and did a very good job. I took the car back over in first position, and it was quite easy to finish the race in that same position. I am very happy because this is a Lister track. We had a little problem with oil towards the end, but it was not a big issue."
-- nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello -- 1st in GT : "I didn't have any problems. Fortunately the team did a very good pit stop, and after Matteo's good stint, I went out just in front of Kinch, and in five laps I managed to overtake him and then tried to give the car back to Matteo with a good gap, because anything can happen."
-- nr 21 Care Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello -- : "Today we had a very good set-up but in the first stint we had a big problem with the fuel pump. It was better after the first pit stop, but we continued to have the same problem throughout the race. I am therefore very happy to have third place considering the problems we had."
Enzo Calderari - nr 21 Care Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello : "With the fuel pump problem, we also had to make a splash and dash at the end as Stefano stopped too early. I am very happy that we got third; the Michelin tyres were good and constant. We unfortunately started on 12th position, so it was difficult to come back to third and I think it's a very good result."
-- nr 21 Care Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello : "The car was going very well until half tank, and then the misfires started. It was a very hard race, very hot in the race, and it was hard to do the stint without power steering."
Arjan van der Zwaan
-- nr 18 Zwaans' Racing Chrysler Viper: " We are a little surprised with our result. It was a strange race. I started on a harder compound for the first stint, which was difficult for the first stint. I had to come in two laps earlier than planned, and at the end we had to slow down to conserve fuel. "
Rob van der Zwaan
-- nr 18 Zwaans' Racing Chrysler Viper: " Last year the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa was our first race, and we went out after four hours. We think we have a better engine than last year, and once more the Belgian driver Marc Goossens will be joining us, so we hope to go one better than this !"
-- nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS : "This is a very important win for us, just before the 24 Hours of Spa; we are coming back to the front. I expect a good race in Spa. I was successful here last year with Romain, and I am very pleased with this win, as it reminds me of last year and what we achieved. We made a lot of progress during the weekend, after struggling during the first free practice session. And I really have to thank my team-mate Marc, as without him, I would really struggle."
-- nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS : "I did the second stint, and took over a bit earlier than planned due to the tyres. We have had a lot of traction problems over the last days, but today I had a very good run."
-- nr 99 RWS Yukos Porsche 996 GT3-RS : "I am very happy; since the start of the season we have had a lot of mechanical problems, and twice retired only quarter of an hour from the end of the race. Sometimes, you just need some luck. We found the right solution for the fuel usage and the tyres, and I think things will be better for Spa, which is very important. Like Ortelli, I would also like to thank my team-mate, who did a very good job out there."
-- nr 99 RWS Yukos Porsche 996 GT3-RS : "I seem to be lucky as I am often on the podium, even if I do not race in this Championship all the time. However, I think we were very fortunate today, as the level in this category has stepped up massively. We were further back in qualifying than I think we should have been, and I was quite surprised in the race that everyone else seemed to be doing similar lap times to us, rather than the times we saw in qualifying. Stephane and the team really deserved this result for all their work this season."
-- nr 51 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS : "This is a very good result for us, and first and third is very important for the team. It is sad that Gabriel was feeling ill and is not here, as he really made the race today. I did the middle stint. This is only my second season, and my first podium since Spa last year. We've often finished fourth, but not on the podium, and this feels really good."
-- team manager Graham Nash Motorsport : "We tried a softer tyre on the nr 7 Saleen, but the problem was that the times dropped off quickly, so we had to bring Thomas in for an early stop to change them. After that he tried to claw back the time. The nr 8 car had an engine problem, something that developed in the warm-up, and it just wasn't able to take part."
-- team manager, Wieth Racing : "We had quite a good weekend until the race, when there was a 0.5 mm hole in a hose leading to the power steering pump. We were losing oil, and thought it was the pump. But the car is undriveable without power steering. We'd had no problems all weekend. I would love to have a good result for our drivers Wolfgang Kaufmann and Vittorio Zoboli, who help us so much and are so patient."
-- nr 80 Veloqx Motorsport Ferrari 360 Modena : "We had an issue with the left rear tyre mid-race. And then we had gearbox problems, with vibrations. We went out again, but it had not been fixed and we had to come back in, losing time. It had been looking good before then, especially as we had to start from the pit lane, having had a problem getting out on time. Second place in N-GT looked to be on the cards, but after the problem, we had to calm down just to get to the end. It was good to be back in the car, and a good practice for Spa."
-- nr 22 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello : "We had a problem with a wiring fault in the engine, causing a short circuit. It was mended in the pits, and everything was OK. But 6 laps is too much for anyone to make up."
-- nr 75 Team Eurotech Porsche 996 GT3-RS : "It did not go quite as planned. We were only going to do one tyre change, but I worked them too hard and flat spotted the tyres, so we had to come in after 50 minutes, which changed our strategy. I think we will go back to doing three one-hour stints. But for Spa, the four of us -- Godfrey and myself, Mike Jordan and Mark Sumpter -- will all drive together.
-- nr 11 Roos-Optima Chrysler Viper GTS-R : "We opted to do two stints on one set of tyres, and after 50 minutes they were completely finished. We would have had more grip in the rain ! I've never had anything like that before. Even the N-GT cars were overtaking me. We had looked like finishing in 5th place, which would have been really good. We' ve still got one point, which is quite good, but it was a mistake that we will not make again."
-- nr 2 Saleen S7-R : "It's been a bad weekend. At the end of my stint, there was an incident with the nr 15 Lister; we touched and I spun out into the gravel. It had been looking very good until then--"