Corvette/Michelin and Porsche/Michelin hit back Victory in the second round of the 2008 FIA GT Championship at Monza went to Christophe Bouchut and Xavier Maassen (Corvette/Michelin) who finished ahead of the Maserati/Michelin of Negrao/Ramos...
Corvette/Michelin and Porsche/Michelin hit back
Victory in the second round of the 2008 FIA GT Championship at Monza went to Christophe Bouchut and Xavier Maassen (Corvette/Michelin) who finished ahead of the Maserati/Michelin of Negrao/Ramos and the Aston Martin/Michelin of Peter/Simonsen. Michelin runners monopolised the top-five places in the GT1 category and also dominated the GT2 standings which saw the success of Collard/Westbrook (Porsche/Michelin) ahead of the two AF Corse-run Ferrari/Michelins.
Qualifying was troubled by rain as Collard topped the timesheets with his Porsche/Michelin GT2 for much of the session before being toppled by Alex Muller and his Aston Ma rtin/Michelin in the dying moments. The track remained predominantly dry for today's race, however, despite the threatening clouds that gathered over the celebrated Italian venue. A few drops did fall close to the finish but all of Michelin's partners stayed out on slicks.
Pole-winner Alex Muller dominated the race's first hour with his Jetalliance Aston Martin/Michelin before handing over to his team-mate Lukas Lichtner-Hoyer who fell back a long way down the order.
That handed the lead to Xavier Maassen - who had succeeded from Christophe Bouchut in the SRT-run Corvette/Michelin on Lap 23 - ahead of the N2 Maserati/Michelin of Ramos. Meanwhile, the second Vitaphone Racing Maserati of Bartels/Bertolini was forced to pit early in the race after driving over some debris left by another competitor.
Also on an offset pit-stop strategy was the Gigawave Aston Martin (Peter/Simonsen) which had secured the fastest time in the wet during the morning's warm -up session. The car was third when Allan Simonsen took over at the helm after one and a quarter hours of racing. Following a virile scrap with Mike Hezemans's Corvette/Michelin, Simonsen overcame a couple of setbacks- accident, stop and go - to collect his second consecutive podium finish.
The second round of pit-stops with the final half-hour fast approaching did nothing to change the situation at the sharp end of the race. After dominating the official FIA GT tests here at Monza in April, the Corvette C6.R/Michelin of Bouchut/Maassen picked up its first win of the year, while last month's winners at Silverstone, Karl Wendlinger and Ryan Sharp (Aston Martin/Michelin), finished back in seventh place.
Michelin runners were in dominating form in the GT2 category, too, and its tyres were put to the test during a thrilling scrap between the Porsche of Collard/Westbrook - which qualified on the second row! - and the Ferrari 430 of Vilander/Bruni. The two Michelin-shod GT2 cars were split by less than one second at the halfway point, but the Prospeed Porsche put off its second pit-stop until a quarter of an hour before the flag, which gave Manu Collard time to pull out a gap before handing over to his team-mate.
The FIA GT series stays in Italy for the year's third encounter at Adria on June 21-22.
Gerard Bombled (Manager of Michelin's Endurance and FIA GT Programmes):
"It's been an extremely positive weekend for Michelin. Our tyres were competitive in all the conditions we encountered, which ranged from half damp and half dry in qualifying to heavy rain for the warm-up and then dry again for the race itself. I don't think I've ever seen such deep water on a track as there was during this morning's warm-up, but we set the fastest time with the Gigawave Aston Martin. In the GT1 category, the Corvette/Michelin once again showed its speed at Monza, while the Maserati MC12 of Bertolini/Bartels could perhaps have won had it not been for a tyre strategy error during qualifying (intermediate tyres) and, above all, a puncture early in the race after running over some debris on the track. The same can be said of the Aston Martin of Peter/Simonsen who could have scored a better result if they hadn't gone off and then taken a stop and go penalty. The GT2 Prospeed Porsche put in an assertive display in all the different conditions it came across, while the AF Corse Ferraris both finished on the podium after spending the entire race on the same set of tyres."