GREAT START AND MORE TO COME FOR POUCHELON RACING Race one in the stunning new FIA GT3 European Championship saw the debut of Pouchelon Racing in the FIA GT scene. French driver Gilles Duqueine started from the 4th position gained by his...
GREAT START AND MORE TO COME FOR POUCHELON RACING
Race one in the stunning new FIA GT3 European Championship saw the debut of Pouchelon Racing in the FIA GT scene. French driver Gilles Duqueine started from the 4th position gained by his partner Anthony Reid in qualifying. Duqueine started strongly and pulled through to 2nd on lap 1 behind Mugelli in the Aston, setting the fastest lap at that time as he pressed Mugelli hard. By lap 3, Duqueine had taken the lead, showing remarkable skill in his hand-control equipped car on the soaking wet Silverstone track. Duqueine continued to pull away from his pursuers as Stefano Zonca moved into second and took up the chase.
Meanwhile Belgian born Luc Dewinter having started in 17th on the grid and never having driven the Viper on a wet track, had an early spin and found himself in 24th at end lap 2, was up to 18th by lap 8 and really got into his stride lapping faster each time. By lap 11 he was 16th and pushing harder on the still wet track.
Duqueine held the lead with a strong drive as the track dried, although the writing was on the wall for teams running wet tyres as others who started on slicks began to post ever faster laps. Rachel Green took over from Dewinter on lap 12 as teams began pit stops, some electing to change to slicks. Pouchelon was not able to change as the Viper is not available with centre-lock wheels at present.
Duqueine handed over to Anthony Reid at lap 13 in 2nd as new leader Deverikos stayed out. As the pit stops played out and the different tyre choices came to fruition, Reid found himself in 4th. He passed Italian Viper pilot Marco Cioci at Luffield on lap 14 for 3rd but contact damaged Reid's car, causing serious handling problems. The scene was now set for a memorable race as Reid faced wet tyres well past their best, deranged rear suspension and with a horde of cars on fresh slicks bearing down on him.
Rachel Green drew praise for fighting up to 10th place, matching Reid's lap times by lap 18 with similar tyre issues but without the handling problems. She continued her charge, reaching 6th after 23 laps in her first GT race. Finally overcome by destroyed tyres and swamped by cars on new slicks, Rachel clung on to take 11th place but was undoubtedly 'Rookie of the day'.
Reid and Cioci were having a titanic battle for third by lap 26 and it could only end in tears as the last lap flag was shown. Reid wrestled with his wayward handling car as Cioci made contact with the rear of it exiting Priory, leaving the Viper wriggling on the grass before making it back onto the track in 6th position. The incident went to the FIA stewards who declared it a 'racing incident'.
Pouchelon Racing was left asking what might have been and having led the race for half its distance, rightly so. However, there were major high points to take away from it, like the performance of the Viper SRT-10 and the skill of the drivers who all contributed by gaining places during their stints.
Reid said "we could not to make a pit stop for tyres and it proved to be a real problem. We were left wondering what could have been because this car was great before being damaged in the incident at Luffield".
Gilles Duqueine was in high spirits after his fantastic start and charge to lead the field - "I am very happy with this drive". Team Manager Alex Pouchelon was thrilled to see his blue Vipers lead the race, grinning "Gilles was mighty today".
Luc Dewinter was unlucky to spin but recovered well and handed Rachel Green a strong position to build on "I think I was maybe 35th after the spin" he said "but I made back more than I lost".
Rachel Green was ecstatic with her drive "it was some experience, my word! The tyres were absolutely done; it felt like for ever out there, I was praying for the chequered flag".
Pouchelon Racing looks forward to what looks like a superb year in FIA GT3, with tough competition and great racing to come.