Oschersleben: Race report

The 25,000 spectators in the grandstands of the Motopark Oschersleben were treated to an action-packed race round the tight, winding circuit, in unseasonably hot conditions. With overtaking difficult, partly due to the circuit and partly due to...

The 25,000 spectators in the grandstands of the Motopark Oschersleben were treated to an action-packed race round the tight, winding circuit, in unseasonably hot conditions. With overtaking difficult, partly due to the circuit and partly due to the narrow speed differences between the GT and N-GT cars, the race was extremely close, with some fine battles. Unfortunately, the final race result came not on the track but in the Stewards' room, and BMS Scuderia Italia inherited the overall win after the exclusion of the Lister Storm. Creation Autosportif took their first podium, ahead of the Care Racing Ferrari. In N-GT, a Ferrari one-two-three proved the pre-race predictions about this circuit, with JMB Racing taking a well-deserved second win of the season, ahead of the two Team Maranello Concessionaires cars. The results remain provisional, both to the results of the appeal lodged by Lister Racing and to fuel tests on cars 6, 21, 50 and 88.

BIAGI AND BOBBI MOVE CLOSER TO THE TITLE

Italian drivers Thomas Biagi and Matteo Bobbi moved a step closer towards the 2003 FIA GT Championship today when they took their sixth win of the season in Oschersleben. Although they finished the race in second place, crossing the line 23 seconds behind the nr 14 Lister Storm, the Storm was later excluded from the results for causing an avoidable accident. The car, which had collided with the nr 4 Force One Chrysler Viper, was deemed to have put at serious risk the people working on the pit wall and the officials, when it touched the Viper on the straight line. The Viper hit the pit wall with force, bringing out the safety car. The driver, Philippe Alliot, emerged unscathed. The team, Lister Racing, has appealed the decision and the results therefore remain provisional. In the Teams Classification, BMS Scuderia Italia now has a provisional lead of 40 points over nearest rivals Lister Racing, which forms an unassailable lead in the Teams Championship, with two rounds remaining.

As for Bobbi and Biagi, the two drivers, in their first season of GT racing, are now 11 points clear of their nearest rivals, Lilian Bryner and Enzo Calderari, who drive the nr 21 Ferrari 550 Maranello, entered under the Care Racing name but run by the same team. Bryner and Calderari, with Stefano Livio, finished in third place today in the amended results, and were delighted with the unexpected podium, especially after losing time in the pits when their engine would not start. Gollin and Cappellari, who failed to score today after retiring with clutch problems, are now 17 points behind, with only 20 points available. Andrea Piccini, the only non-Ferrari driver in the title chase before this round, is now out of contention, his Lister Storm retiring mid race with a broken radiator.

"The team did really good work setting up the car for the race; it was fantastic," Bobbi said afterwards. Both Biagi and I would like to dedicate this victor to our chief engineer Marco Gadola, who lost his father two days ago and who could not be with us here today."

SECOND WIN OF THE SEASON FOR JMB RACING'S BERTOLINI AND DE SIMONE

Andrea Bertolini and Fabrizio De Simone led the second all-Ferrari N-GT podium today, in their nr 52 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena. Starting from pole, the two Italians dominated the race, only losing the lead due to differing pit stop strategies. They finished 12 seconds ahead of the fast-closing Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 360 Modena cars, with the nr 88 car of Jamie Davies and Darren Turner ahead of the nr 89 car of Kelvin Burt and Tim Mullen. The nr 61 EMKA Porsche, victorious in Sweden, ran an ambitious one-stop strategy and was forced to fall back from second to fourth in the closing stages of the race, after running low on fuel. "We are very happy with this win," Bertolini said. "The car was very fast today, we have worked hard all weekend, and this is especially thanks to the Pirelli tyres, which were excellent today."

In the points, Ortelli and Lieb, who finished in fifth place today, are now 12.5 points ahead of Jamie Davies and fifteen points ahead of Fabrizio De Simone, with two races remaining. As far as the teams are concerned, 17 points separate Freisinger Motorsport from Team Maranello Concessionaires. Although the German team has a good lead, with 36 remaining in play, the title fight will continue on to the next round in Estoril, Portugal.

FIRST PODIUM FOR CREATION AUTOSPORTIF

For the first time in the history of the FIA GT Championship, a Lister Storm finished on the podium that was not run by Lister Racing. Creation Autosportif's nr 6 car, driven by Bobby Verdon Roe and Marco Zadra, ran a sensible race, starting as frequently for them well down in qualifying, but keeping out of trouble and making steady progress. They crossed the line in third place, moving up to second. This was 2001 FIA Sportscar Champion Zadra's first podium since he won his title two years ago, while Verdon Roe was delighted to have made such progress with the car before heading for his home round in Estoril.

TWO ON THE PODIUM FOR TMC

British Team Maranello Concessionaires, which started off the season in fine fashion with two cars on the podium in Barcelona and a win in Magny-Cours, has not had such an easy time since. However, today the team had its highest-scoring result since the first round, with the cars taking second and third place after a steady race, always running in the top of the N-GT class. Davies and Turner were classified 6th overall, with Burt and Mullen 7th, just two laps behind the overall GT winner.

THE GT RACE

Mike Hezemans, in the nr 5 Force One Viper, made the best start and got ahead of the pole-position holder Konrad Saleen, with the nr 7 Graham Nash Saleen in third place. Campbell-Walter made a good start in the nr 14 Storm, moving up to fourth. The Konrad Saleen was faster than the Viper, but could not get past, and Hezemans withstood the pressure for six laps, before Walter Lechner Jr got ahead at the Shell Esses and took the lead. He then began to pull away. Behind him, the nr 5 Viper, the nr 7 Saleen and the nr 14 Lister were involved in a frantic battle for second place, while a similar fight took place for 5th between the nr 4 Viper, the nr 15 Lister and the nr 23 Ferrari. On lap 19, Campbell-Walter overtook Erdos for third place, and began to chase Hezemans. By the time the first pit stops took place, Lechner Jr had built up an impressive lead of over 30 seconds. This was reduced to 18 after the pit stop to hand over to Toni Seiler, who soon found himself under pressure from a charging Nathan Kinch in the nr 14 Lister, with Kumpen in the nr 5 Viper close behind in third. On lap 64, the Saleen slowed, with a problem with the front left wheel, and Kumpen overtook Kinch and took the lead. However, the Force One Viper, which had already lasted longer than in any other race this season, ran into reliability problems again, giving the Lister the lead. Although Kinch had a spin, he continued with no problems and handed over to Campbell-Walter, who was now followed distantly by the nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello, with the nr 4 Force One Viper nearly a minute behind the BMS car, with only these three cars on the same lap. On lap 101, the Lister Storm was coming up to lap the nr 4 Force One Viper when the two cars collided, the Viper going into the pit wall. The safety car was brought out for the track to be cleared, closing the field up. At the restart, Campbell-Walter pulled away from the nr 23 Ferrari and took the line with a lead of 23 seconds, with the nr 6 Creation Autosportif Lister in third place.

However, the Steward's enquiry into the accident excluded the winning Lister Storm from the results. A separate enquiry excluded the nr 2 Konrad Saleen, which was originally classified in sixth place, for dangerous driving during the safety car procedure. This changed the finishing line-up, with the nr 23 BMS Ferrari taking the win, ahead of the Creation Autosportif Lister and the Care Racing Ferrari. The nr 7 Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen was fourth, with the nr 18 Zwaan's Racing Chrysler Viper fifth and the second GNM Saleen sixth. The Wieth Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello took a well-deserved two points for seventh, with the nr 10 JMB Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello taking its first point of the season, Christian Pescatori getting on the scoreboard at long last. The car had been running a competitive 5th for much of the race, before stopping with a suspension failure. The nr 9 car, fast throughout the weekend, failed to start the race after an engine problem in the warm-up.

THE N-GT RACE STORY

Bertolini, in the nr 52 JMB Racing Chrysler Viper, made a good start and by lap three, there were three GT cars between his Ferrari and the nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS, in third place. The nr 57 MENX Ferrari 360 Modena incurred damage in a collision before the first corner, and had to pit for new tyres, effectively putting the car out of contention. By lap 9, Ortelli was only 4 seconds behind Bertolini, followed by Darren Turner in the nr 88 TMC car. The situation remained remarkably stable for the next thirty laps, until the leader came into the pits for a first stop. The nr 88 TMC Ferrari got ahead of the Freisinger Porsche and took the class lead. By lap 50, the three leading N-GT cars, the nr 88 TMC; the nr 61 EMKA Porsche and the nr 89 TMC Ferrari, were yet to stop, while the nr 52 car was fourth. When the cars finally pitted, De Simone took the lead again in the JMB car, followed by the nr 50 Freisinger and the nr 88 TMC Ferrari. The final pit stops for the 52 and 50 put the nr 88 back in the lead, but Bertolini retook the advantage on lap 93, while Ortelli, who went wide on his first lap out of the pits, dropped back to 5th. By lap 110, after the safety car, the nr 61 EMKA car was running second in N-GT, but over the last laps it dropped back to fourth, overtaken by both TMC Ferraris for an all-Ferrari podium for the second time this year, and an identical result to Barcelona. The nr 61 EMKA finished fourth, after an extremely rapid engine change between the warm-up and the start, and Freisinger fifth. The nr 74 Eurotech finished in a good sixth position on the return of Jordan and Sumpter to the Championship, with the team reaching their objective of getting both cars to the finish line. The nr 99 RWS Yukos Porsche of Daoudi and Wolff was seventh, dropping a place on the last lap, with the nr 51 Freisinger Porsche of Longin and Daoudi taking the final point for eighth.

GT NEWS #6
QUOTES

Thomas Bobbi - nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello - 1st, GT: "The team did really good work yesterday to set up the car for the race. With the restrictors we have, it was sometimes difficult to even overtake the N-GT cars, as we have no power at the top. It is going to be more of a problem in Estoril and Monza. But we are very pleased to win and to extend our points lead. But both Matteo Bobbi and myself would like to dedicate this win to Marco Gadola, who is not here this weekend due to the death of his father. We would like to thank him for all his hard work. We did our best for him."

Bobby Verdon-Roe - nr 6 Creation Autosportif Lister Storm - 2nd, GT: "It was a great result, we're over the moon. It's also good timing as Mike Jankowski's father died last week, and it is nice to be able to dedicate this to him. I actually thought about him when I was driving around behind the safety car. As for the race, it was a bad first stint and bad start; Jean-Marc came flying past us in the second car. We were not very competitive, but Marco did a very good job, and other people started hitting problems, so we moved gradually up the field. I spent the last laps behind the nr 14 Lister, and it was quite encouraging to actually be quicker than him. We seem to be much closer to the works cars pace now - we have found something with the diff, which seems to work. The only problem is that now we'll have ballast for my home race !"

Marco Zadra - nr 6 Creation Autosportif Lister Storm - 2nd, GT : We finally found the luck we needed, and I think it is very good for the team. We have all put so much into this programme, and this result is incredible. When I went out, I just tried to push as hard as possible. Our engine is not so powerful, so overtaking is difficult. It seemed very busy out there, there seemed to be a hundred cars out there. But I tried to keep out of trouble, keep the car together and hand the car back to Bobby. I am very happy with this result, which is my first podium since winning the FIA Sportscar Championship in 2001, so it has been a long time."

Marco Streparava - BMS Scuderia Italia :"We built this good result the same way as all the others this season - with good team-work and good, consistent drivers. The nr 22 car had clutch problems, and so could not finish, but it was a great result for the nr 21 car. They all did a fantastic job."

Lilian Bryner - nr 21 Care Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello - 3rd, GT: "The car went well, but it was a difficult race, and very hot. We had a problem in our second pit stop, when the car wouldn't start, but other than that is was OK and we were very pleased to finish on the podium."

Stefano Livio - nr 21 Care Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello - 3rd, GT: "After three months without racing, it was very nice to come back and to finish third. The car was good today, and I am very pleased."

Enzo Calderari - nr 21 Care Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello - 3rd, GT: "We will continue to fight to see if we can win the Championship. Bobbi and Biagi have a good lead, but we are not far behind. There are no team orders, and I think we will have some good races."

Tommy Erdos - nr 7 Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7-R - 4th, GT: "It was hard work out there today. But we feel we are definitely making progress, and that we might be actually getting ahead of ourselves. We're competitive, or thereabouts, and we have made good progress compared to Anderstorp. The trouble here was that the Viper was very strong in terms of straight line speed, and we couldn't pass. My water temperature went all the way up to 98°, and I had to drop back to run in clean air for a while. Unfortunately, we then developed a misfire and had to contend with that throughout the rest of the race, which cost us a lot. But the team has done an excellent job to put us up here; the only thing we need to do is to get more running away from the track, to see what works before we get to the race meeting."

Klaus Abbelen - nr 18 Zwaan's Racing Chrysler Viper - 5th, GT : "We were quite happy with our result; we couldn't do any more. This is not a car which can win, we can only hope to do well if other cars have problems. It was extremely hot in the car, and I hope it will be cooler for the next couple of rounds."

Magnus Wallinder - nr 11 Roos Optima Chrysler Viper - 9th, GT : "It was going well until we had a problem with the bonnet, which was damaged by the vibrations, and broke into pieces. We have been having brake problems all weekend, but I thought it was sorted out. However, in the second and third stints it happened again, and I was having to put the pedal all the way down. I nearly went off, and decided to stop as it was dangerous. However, we have found some speed at last and the car feels good."

Philipp Peter - nr 9 JMB Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello - DNS : "We had a brand-new engine for the warm-up this morning, but it broke and we couldn't even race. The nr 10 car had a broken suspension pin. Our career with the 550 finished like it started, but we can now turn a page and we are all looking towards the future."

Walter Lechner Jr - nr 2 Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7-R - excluded : "The car was very good today. I lost out at the start and the Viper was so very quick at getting away. I had no chance. But although I was quicker, I could not overtake. I tried to prepare my moment for six laps, until I decided my only chance was to go for it. That worked, and I pulled away. I was pushing really hard, doing a qualifying lap each time. I have only one stint in the car, so I have to give everything I have."

Andrea Bertolini - nr 52 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena - Winner, N-GT : " It was a very good race. In the second stint, Fabrizio was very quick ; it was an unbelievable stint. It is very hard, because the N-GT class is very close, all the drivers are fantastic. I think I have to give special thanks to the Pirelli tyres. In Anderstorp they were very quick and consistent for the race, and for Oschersleben it was the same. They have done very good work. This is only our second win, as the throttle broke in Anderstorp. Four or five cars could have won every one of our races. But I think this is a special day for us and for Ferrari, to have all our cars on the podium"

Fabrizio De Simone - nr 52 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena - Winner, N-GT : "It seems that all the Ferrari cars were in good condition here. We had a really good step up with the tyres, all the work everyone has done in Ferrari, Pirelli and the team have all been in the right direction and it was really good out there. It was difficult today with traffic, and cars going off and bringing dirt onto the track, so we just paid attention and built up the times."

Jamie Davies - nr 88 TMC Ferrari 360 Modena - 2nd N-GT: "A very good day for TMC, and we're happy. Obviously we would have liked to win the race, but second and third for the team is very important, and it has helped my Championship hopes. Darren made an exceptionally good start in his stint, and handed the car over to me. We had a problem with the drink in Darren's stint, and my stint was with no drink and no radio either, so I was not sure what the situation was when the safety car came out, so I got a big caught out on the restart. We just pushed on as we could, it was a difficult race but we managed to get some points out of it."

Darren Turner - nr 88 TMC Ferrari 360 Modena - 2nd, N-GT: "I'm reasonably pleased - I think that we potentially could have had a win. The second half of the race was not as good as the first with Jamie struggling with the balance. At one stage we dropped to third and then back up to second. To have both cars on the podium is a big boost for everyone in the team, and maybe in the next race we can make sure we are on the top step. Incidentally, the drinks bottle didn't work for Jamie because I trapped the pipe in the door, so that was my fault."

Kelvin Burt - nr 89 TMC Ferrari 360 Modena - 3rd, N-GT: "It was quite hot, and it's the kind of circuit where you have to concentrate really hard, it's very busy. The other problem is that the slower GT cars are slower than us in the corners, and they can hold you up and then accelerate, so it's a bit of a yoyo. Traffic was a factor, and I lost out a bit to Darren. We made a balance change this morning and it didn't really pay off. The JMB guys look as if they really have some performance gain from Pirelli so we need to look into that for next time.

Tim Mullen - nr 89 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 360 Modena - 3rd, N-GT : "It was not too bad; I was not really sure what the situation was when I went out, so I just concentrated on driving and reeling out the laps. The traffic was a major factor, more so than at any of the other tracks we' ve been to. The conditions of the track were changing every lap. But it's a good result for the team; our car went pretty well throughout and caught up at the end, but we definitely have to do a bit of work to catch the Pirellis, and we'll have to push hard for the last two races."

Stéphane Daoudi - nr 99 RWS Yukos Porsche 996 GT3-RS - 7th, N-GT : "It has been very difficult all weekend, as we have been struggling for grip, and it is extremely hard to drive like that for an hour and a half, in this heat. But the team is working well and I hope it will go better in the last two races."

Horst Felbermayr Jr - nr 86 JVG Racing Porsche 996 GT3-RS - 12th, N-GT : "We had terrible understeer, so we could not get the most out of the car. Maybe next time - I hope to be back in Monza."

-fia-

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Andrea Piccini , Darren Turner , Christian Pescatori , Jamie Davies , Matteo Bobbi , Mike Hezemans , Toni Seiler , Kelvin Burt , Andrea Bertolini , Nathan Kinch , Tim Mullen , Thomas Biagi , Enzo Calderari , Stefano Livio , Lilian Bryner , Bobby Verdon-Roe , Philipp Peter , Klaus Abbelen