Oschersleben: Race report

Beautiful summer weather, 29000 spectators and a fine race made for an excellent round of the FIA GT Championship in Germany. Michael Bartels finally put a run of bad luck at Oschersleben behind him, leading his Vitaphone Racing Team to a fine ...

Beautiful summer weather, 29000 spectators and a fine race made for an excellent round of the FIA GT Championship in Germany. Michael Bartels finally put a run of bad luck at Oschersleben behind him, leading his Vitaphone Racing Team to a fine one-two in their home race, while Phoenix Racing made it an all-German team affair, as Andrea Piccini and Jean-Denis Deletraz finished third in their Aston Martin DBR9. An all-Ferrari podium in GT2 saw Scuderia Ecosse finally claim their first win, Kinch and Kirkaldy crossing the line ahead of AF Corse's Salo and Aguas, with the second Scuderia Ecosse car in third place.


Michael Bartels likes the Oschersleben circuit, but despite some excellent qualifying positions in the past, including pole last year, before today he had never been able to bring his car home in first position. That changed today, when, along with his Italian team-mate Andrea Bertolini, he put in a fine performance to win the third round of the 2006 FIA GT Championship in the nr 1 Vitaphone Racing Team Maserati MC 12. Starting from pole, the nr 1 car kept the lead from the start, and apart from during the pit stops, was in command throughout. They crossed the line 14.3 seconds ahead of the team's second car, the nr 2 Maserati MC 12 of Biagi and Davies. Qualifying fourth, they had started from 14th on the grid following a penalty from Brno. After Davies navigated his way through the field - not easy on a track like Oschersleben, the car slotted into second position at the start of the final hour, and despite pressure from Piccini in the Phoenix Aston Martin, claimed its first podium of the year. "This is a wonderful result," team director Rafael Calafell said afterwards. "You can't do any better !"

This result has seen Bertolini and Bartels take the lead of the Drivers Classification, with a two-point lead over Janis and Bert, who finished fourth today. In the Teams classification, however, Vitaphone Racing Team now has a commanding lead of 14 points going into the Spa round - where the German team was victorious last year.

"What can be better ? Blue skies, Germany in the semi-finals, a double win for Vitaphone in Oschersleben," as Michael Bartels said.


German team Phoenix Racing, new to the FIA GT this season, claimed its second successive podium finish with the nr 5 Aston Martin DBR9 of Andrea Piccini and Jean-Denis Deletraz. Despite suffering from a broken exhaust and other problems at the end of the middle stint, Piccini managed to keep ahead of the Zakspeed Racing Saleen S7-R of Janis and Bert in the final stages. " We are lucky to have got to the end and to have scored a podium. It's good for the team and good for the championship," Piccini said. The Zakspeed Saleen, victorious in Brno, was lying in the top three for the first two hours, but it had a big moment when Janis, suffering with brakes and a puncture, spun out at the end of the second hour, narrowly avoiding the barriers and rejoining in fourth. This meant that cars entered by German teams finished in the top four places - a fine result for their home race.


Four Aston Martin DBR9 cars finished in the points today; as well as Phoenix on the podium, Aston Martin Racing BMS placed its two cars in fifth and sixth positions, and Race Alliance claimed its first points of the season with seventh position for Wendlinger and Peter. Aston Martin has 49 points in the Manufacturers' Cup, ten ahead of Maserati. Saleen has 24 points, with one point from Balfe Motorsport adding to the five from Zakspeed. Despite a successful season in G2 last year with the Mosler, this was Balfe's first ever point in the Championship - another team with reason to celebrate !


Reigning British GT Champions, Scuderia Ecosse has proved its speed this season, with pole position in all three rounds to date. But so far, podiums have eluded the Scottish team, a fact they made up for today with a fine win for Andrew Kirkaldy and Nathan Kinch, despite starting well back on the grid after a ten-place penalty from Brno. Kirkaldy made his way up the field to join the leading group of Ferraris by lap 16. He took the lead when Salo made his final fuel pit stop, and the nr 59 AF Corse car came in second. "In the end the car was exceptional. The team did a great job and the tyres were fantastic for the whole race. We hope this continues !" Kirkaldy commented. Mullen and Niarchos, in the nr 63 Scuderia Ecosse car, finished third, after driving without a clutch for much of the race.


Despite today's all-Ferrari 430 GT2 podium in Oschersleben - the first of the season - fifth place for Collard and Riccitelli in the nr 75 Ebimotors Porsche 996 GT3 RSR was enough to give them the overall lead in the GT2 drivers classification. Scoring four points, they now have 20, and have a slender lead of one point ahead of AF Corse's Bobbi and Melo, who finished sixth, while their team-mates Rui Aguas and Mika Salo are joint fifth with 17 points. However, in the Teams classification, AF Corse have strengthened their lead. The Italian team now has 36 points, eight ahead of Ebimotors. After a slow start, Scuderia Ecosse is now third, ahead of JMB GruppeM Racing.

The results are provisional pending fuel checks on cars 1, 4, 9 , 62, 59 and 101, and on engine checks for cars 1, 5 and 62.


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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Andrea Piccini , Mika Salo , Michael Bartels , Jean-Denis Deletraz , Andrea Bertolini , Nathan Kinch , Andrew Kirkaldy , Rui Aguas
Teams Aston Martin Racing , AF Corse , Phoenix Racing , Team Zakspeed