Mike Rockenfeller had a victorious start to his FIA GT Championship career. The German driver, now living in Monaco, didn't hold back in his series debut at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza in Italy on 10 April. At 21, he was the youngest of the...
Mike Rockenfeller had a victorious start to his FIA GT Championship career. The German driver, now living in Monaco, didn't hold back in his series debut at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza in Italy on 10 April. At 21, he was the youngest of the 62 drivers in the field, but that didn't faze him. He qualified second in the GT2 class, took the class lead at the start of the race and cruised to the win.
Rockenfeller qualified the No. 66 GruppeM Racing Porsche 996 GT3 RSR second in GT2 with a lap time of one minute 51.731 seconds on the 5.77-kilometre circuit. He gambled on a late qualifying effort because of changing weather conditions, but was unable to find a clear lap.
"It was raining and then it started to dry at the end of the first qualifying session," he said. "We decided to wait until it was 10 minutes to go, so I could do five laps. Every lap, I had traffic really, really bad, so I had no chance for a good lap. The second session it was raining, so no one could improve their times."
Rockenfeller started the race, taking the class lead on the first lap. He increased his lead to four seconds during the first hour of the two-hour 40-minute race, then handed off to Marc Lieb of Ludwigsburg, Germany. Lieb maintained the class lead during his hour stint, despite an ill-handling car resulting from reversed rear tires. Rockenfeller drove the final stint, moving to seventh overall and increasing the class lead to six seconds before slowing for a photo finish with the second-place GruppeM Porsche.
"In my first stint, I thought I had a problem with the tires, so I asked the guys to come in a little earlier than we'd planned. We were already in the window for our first pit stop. I did not know that there was oil on the track, but the timing was very good because the other cars stayed out and lost some time on the oil," Rockenfeller reported. "In my last stint, we got six seconds ahead, but then we slowed for a photo finish with the sister car. I didn't take any risks -- the last three or four laps, I did really slow!"
Rockenfeller noted the No. 66 Porsche will carry an extra 20 kilograms of weight in the next FIA GT race, at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours in France on 1 May.