Magny-Cours: Race report

Three hours of close and exciting racing in unseasonably hot temperatures saw the Maserati MC 12 claim a fine one-two-three. JMB Racing's duo of Karl Wendlinger and Andrea Bertolini took their first win of the season, while the two green and black...

Three hours of close and exciting racing in unseasonably hot temperatures saw the Maserati MC 12 claim a fine one-two-three. JMB Racing's duo of Karl Wendlinger and Andrea Bertolini took their first win of the season, while the two green and black Vitaphone Racing Team cars finished in second and third places, after a hard-fought battle around the technical Magny-Cours circuit. The GT2 fight was equally close, with Emmanuel Collard taking a well-deserved home win, after he and his team-mate Tim Sugden overcame their Gruppe M team-mates to come home in first position, ahead of Monza winners Lieb and Rockenfeller. The Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari 360 Modena of Nathan Kinch and Andrew Kirkaldy was third, winning the British GT Championship race-within-a-race.

BERTOLINI AND WENDLINGER WIN FOR JMB RACING

Having taken the lead at the start, ahead of the Russian Age Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello, the nr 15 JMB car regained the lead during the final round of pit-stops, and Andrea Bertolini proceeded to give the Magny-Cours spectators a nail-biting finish. The Italian, who had a comfortable lead in his nr 15 Maserati MC 12, lost grip and went off into the gravel at the Château d'Eau corner, just seven laps before the end of the race. He recovered well and kept the lead, but from this point, the chasing Timo Scheider was less than six seconds behind. The German began to chase, but Andrea managed to hold on, crossing the finish line 4.7 seconds ahead of the nr 9 Vitaphone Racing Team Maserati MC 12, having completed 104 laps of the 4.411 km circuit. "It was a good race today !" Bertolini said afterwards. "It was so close ! I am happy with my start as I took the lead from the start. But then after 10 laps, I lost it. The last stint of the race was unbelievable. Every lap, I was speaking with my engineer to find out where Timo [Scheider] was. Then, I lost grip on the front and it was impossible to brake. I went into the gravel. This is not good for my heart !"

This was JMB Racing's first win in the FIA GT since Donington 2004, when Wendlinger and Melo were victorious in the Ferrari 575 Maranello. Bertolini gave the Maserati its first FIA GT win at Zhuhai last year. Once again, the Monaco-based team managed to bring both cars home in the points, placing them second in the GT1 Teams classification, behind the Vitaphone Racing Team.

This second successive second-place finish has placed Bartels and Scheider in the lead of the GT1 Drivers Classification, ahead of Lamy, Gardel, Wendlinger and Bertolini. They also lead the Teams classification, where Vitaphone has a seven-points lead ahead of JMB Racing, with Larbre Competition a further point behind. "It is a great day for Maserati and Pirelli to finish here in the top three positions," Michael Bartels said. "Like in Monza, we missed out on victory. For the team, I am very happy to be second and third and also to be leading the Drivers classification with Timo now !" The team's nr 10 car, driven by Fabio Babini and Thomas Biagi was third, with the GLP-Carsport Corvette fourth, claiming its first-ever FIA GT points. It was followed by the two Larbre Competition Ferrari 550 Maranello cars, after a difficult weekend, which nevertheless sees the Frenc team a close third in the Teams classification. The Russian Age Racing Ferrari finished eighth, to take its first FIA GT point.

HOME WIN FOR COLLARD AFTER CLOSE GRUPPEM FIGHT

Having claimed pole position yesterday, Emmanuel Collard and Tim Sudgen put in a fine performance to claim their first win of the season. Leading in the early stages, their nr 88 GruppeM Porsche lost the advantage to the nr 66 after the pit stop, setting the situation up for a thrilling battle in the closing stages of the race. After a number of attempts, Collard eventually got past at the Adelaide hairpin on lap 86, pulling away and taking the chequered flag in ninth place overall. "It was a very hot and good race," Tim Sugden commented afterwards. "It is going to be a very good fight all year between the two GruppeM Porsches. I have to say that Manu [Collard] drove very well this weekend. He got the lead and pulled away. We had a 14-second lead at one point but unfortunately, the safety car took it all away. Our pit stop was slow so when went out again, we were second. It was a good fight and Manu did a brilliant job". Lieb and Rockenfeller finished second, ahead of Kinch and Kirkaldy in the Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari 360 Modena. In the classification, all four drivers are on equal points, while the British team has a lead of 25 points over nearest rivals Scuderia Ecosse in the teams classification

SCUDERIA ECOSSE WIN BRITISH GT ROUND

Scuderia Ecosse's Ferrari 360 Modena, driven by Nathan Kinch and Andrew Kirkaldy, finished third in GT2 and won the second round of the British GT Championship, three weeks after emerging victorious in Donington two weeks ago. "We had to concentrate on the British race today," Kirkaldy said. "We hoped we could keep up with the GruppeM Porsches but it was not the case after the first couple of laps. We just had to drive our own race. We finished third in the FIA GT race and we won the British GT round, which is good considering we had big problems with the car all weekend and only managed to cure them during the warm-up. The mechanics worked until 2 o'clock last night. At the end of the race, the other cars were coming back on us and it was very nerve-wracking ! We are pretty happy with the result". They were followed by team's second car, driven by Tim Mullen and Chris Niarcos, with the Team Eurotech Porsche 996 GT3 RS of Mike Jordan and Michael Caine in third position, and the two LNT TVR T400R cars fourth and fifth

VAUXHALL MONARO TAKES FIRST G2 CLASS WIN

The Vauxhall Monaro from the British GT Championship was the first car to win the G2 class in the FIA GT Championship, after the regulations changed this year to allow the cars to compete on a non-Championship basis. The car, driven by Matt Griffin and Ryan Hooker, finished in 23rd position. "We had limited time in practice and qualifying due to a few niggles, which unfortunately took a while to fix. Nevertheless, with a three-hour race, you always have a chance. The first priority is to finish the race, and that's what we did. Obviously, to give the first win to a Vauxhall Monaro in the FIA GT Championship is headline news !" Ryan Hooker said afterwards.

Neither of the other cars in this class finished the race, with the Balfe Motorsport Mosler, which had been running strongly at the start of the race, retiring due to a problem with the gear-box cable (which broke twice) and the RJN Motorsport Nissan 350 Z retiring after 31 laps.

-fia-

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Karl Wendlinger , Emmanuel Collard , Timo Scheider , Michael Bartels , Tim Sugden , Michael Caine , Fabio Babini , Andrea Bertolini , Nathan Kinch , Tim Mullen , Ryan Hooker , Thomas Biagi , Andrew Kirkaldy , Matt Griffin , Mike Jordan
Teams Nissan Motorsport , Larbre Competition