Nogaro: Michelin race report

Michelin runners monopolise the top 14 places at Nogaro! The circuit of Nogaro in France is renowned for being particularly tough on tyres, but that didn't prevent Michelin helping nine of its partners in GT1 and five in GT2 from ...

Michelin runners monopolise the top 14 places at Nogaro!

The circuit of Nogaro in France is renowned for being particularly tough on tyres, but that didn't prevent Michelin helping nine of its partners in GT1 and five in GT2 from clinching the top 14 places overall in the eighth round of the FIA GT Championship! In GT1, Vitaphone Racing succeeded in securing its second success of 2008 thanks to Negrao/Ramos, while Porsche also notched up its second GT2 win of the year with Davison/Westbrook. The 2008 GT2 Drivers' title has been won by Finn Toni Vilander and Italy's Gianmaria Bruni (Ferrari/Michelin).

It was the GT2 category which turned out to be the most fiercely contested this weekend, with the outcome going down to the wire between the pole-winning Porsche/Michelin of Davison/Westbrook, the two CR Scuderia Ferrari/Michelins (No.55 and No.56), the two AF Corse -run Ferrari/Michelins (No.50 and No.51) and the No.57 Kessel Racing Fer rari/Michelin. Chased by no fewer than five F430s, the Porsche Prospeed Competition driven by Richard Westbrook succeeded in clinching the spoils after shrugging off the pressure of the Italian machines, not to mention the odd shove from behind!

The No.50 Ferrari/Michelin shared by Toni Vilander and Gianmaria Bruni finished just shy of the GT2 podium, but fourth place was sufficient to make sure of a second GT2 Drivers' crown for the Finn and a maiden title for his Italian team -mate. With a score of four wins to its name this season, Michelin's partner AF Corse had already sewn up the 2008 GT2 Teams' championship prior to the trip to Nogaro.

Vitaphone Racing, meanwhile, took a giant step towards securing a fourth GT1 Teams title thanks to the second win of the year for Maserati/Michelin after its success in the Spa-Francorchamps 24 Hours. That said, it wasn't the car that observers were expecting to see on the highest step of the podium that took the laurels, victory instead going to Negrao/Ramos in the No.2 Maserati/Michelin. The grip of my Michelin tyres improved with every lap and our car was increasingly competitive, reported winner Alexandre Negrao after his second stint.

"All our partners raced with medium compound tyres," said Gerard Bombled, Micheli n Competition's Endurance and FIA GT Programmes Manager. "Nogaro is particularly hard-wearing, yet our medium compound products delivered consistent performance and were very strong at the end of their second stint."

Brazil's Alexandre Negrao took the lead with a quarter of an hour remaining after passing the No.5 Phoenix Racing Corvette/Michelin (Fassler/Deletraz) which had dominated for more than an hour and a half. After starting from pole position, Switzerland's Marcel Fassler had pulled gradually clear of the Larbre Competition Saleen/Michelin (Vosse/Franchi) and the SRT Corvette/Michelin (Bouchut/Maassen) before handing the car to his team-mate Jean-Denis Deletraz.

After two refuelling/tyre change pit-stops, the No.5 Corvette/Michelin still led with th e flag almost in sight but it was ultimately deprived of its second win of the year by the No.2 Maserati. It was even overtaken by Phoenix Racing's second Corvette/Michelin (Gollin/Hezemans) which stole through to snatch second place. By putting two cars on the podium, Phoenix Racing has prolonged the suspense in the 2008 GT1 Teams championship.

The GT1 Drivers' title has also yet to be decided. Andrea Bertolini and Michael Bartels came close to picking up their second win, but the No.1 Maserati was delayed by a puncture with just a handful of laps remaining and fell back to sixth place behind two Aston Martin/Michelins. This has enabled Fabrizio Gollin and Mike Hezemans to close to within six points of Bertolini/Bartels in the provisional standings.

The next showdown will be in two weeks' time at Zolder, Belgium, where Vitaphone Racing's rivals will be keen to ensure that the title decision goes down to the wire in Argentina at the end of November!

-credit: michelin

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Gianmaria Bruni , Fabrizio Gollin , Marcel Fassler , Jean-Denis Deletraz , Mike Hezemans , Alexandre Funari "Xandy" Negrao , Toni Vilander , Richard Westbrook
Teams AF Corse , Prospeed Competition , Larbre Competition , Phoenix Racing