Silverstone was once more the scene for a thrilling round of the FIA GT Championship, with the evening race providing plenty of changes of leader in both categories and some extremely close on-track battles. Overall victory finally went to French...
Silverstone was once more the scene for a thrilling round of the FIA GT Championship, with the evening race providing plenty of changes of leader in both categories and some extremely close on-track battles. Overall victory finally went to French team Paul Belmondo Racing, with a Chrysler Viper GTS-R driven by Fabio Babini and Marc Duez. JMB Racing took their second consecutive win in the N-GT Category, with Christian Pescatori and Andrea Montermini driving the Ferrari 360 Modena.
Overcast with sunny spells
PAUL BELMONDO RACING WINS AT SILVERSTONE
The Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper nr 12 of Fabio Babini and Marc Duez raced to victory in the second round of the FIA GT Championship. It was the team's third ever win in the championship and their first of this season. Babini held off a challenge from the nr 15 Lister Storm Racing Lister Storm to win by 10.846 seconds at the flag at the end of a race that saw five different leaders.
Babini started from eighth on the grid and moved to seventh when the nr 23 BMS Scuderia Ferrari 550 Maranello of Andrea Piccini and Jean-Denis Deletraz stopped with an electrical problem on only the seventh lap. The Italian was up to fourth overall at the first round of pit stops, having taken advantage of the problems that struck the nr 4 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R of Fabrizio Gollin and Luca Cappellari. That car was involved in a collision with the nr 15 Lister Storm Racing Lister Storm of Bobby Verdon-Roe, which continued un-damaged.
Marc Duez moved into third position, ahead of the nr 7 RWS Motorsport Porsche 996 GT of Luca Riccitelli and Dieter Quester. He inherited second when the race leader at that stage, the nr 3 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R of Anthony Kumpen and Mike Hezemans, stopped with a suspected broken prop shaft.
Duez took the lead from Vincent Vosse, who was driving the nr 1 Larbre Competition Chrysler Viper GTS-R before the final round of pit stops, but Vosse fought back and the pair were close on the circuit as Duez made his final stop. Vosse then pitted to hand to his co-driver David Terrien for the final hour, and the Frenchman emerged from the pit lane to find Babini bearing down on him. The Italian passed as Terrien warmed his tyres on his out-lap, and pulled away to take the victory.
LISTER STORM RACING TAKES SECOND
The Lister Storm nr 15 of Paul Knapfield and Bobby Verdon Roe finished second overall, just three seconds behind the nr 12 Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper. With the nr 14 Storm finishing in fourth place, Lister Storm Racing have retained the lead in the GT Teams Classification, with Campbell-Walter and Springer also remaining in the lead of the Drivers points. Verdon-Roe started the race from second place on the grid, but was passed by the nr 3 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R of Mike Hezemans and Anthony Kumpen on the first lap. The British driver, who lives in Portugal, re-gained the position 25 laps later after putting Hezemans under pressure. Hezemans' team-mate Fabrizio Gollin, in the nr 4 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R, followed Verdon-Roe through, but the pair collided shortly after. Knapfield took over the car in third position for a solid stint and returned the car to Verdon-Roe for the final hour in fourth.
Verdon-Roe took third again as the nr 1 Larbre Competition Chrysler Viper GTS-R took to the grass. During the final half hour of the race, he was closing fast on Fabio Babini in the leading nr 12 Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper GTS-R. However, his Lister Storm developed a misfire on his final lap and dropped back from three seconds to ten behind at the flag. The second Lister Storm Racing Lister Storm, nr 14 driven by Jamie
Campbell-Walter and Nicolaus Springer, led the opening hour, but their race fell apart at the first round of pit stops when Springer returned to the pits after a single lap. The dead-man's handle of the fuel rig broke, leaving the team unable to fill the car. A second stop ensured fuel was put in, but another stop was needed to change the Dunlop tyres. The pair finished fourth overall.
THIRD PLACE FOR LARBRE COMPETITION CHEREAU
For the second consecutive race, the 2001 Championship-winning team Larbre Competition Chereau finished in third place, and are currently fourth in the Teams Classification. Christophe Bouchut, Vincent Vosse and David Terrien were sharing the nr 1 Chrysler Viper GTS-R for this race, and started from sixth place on the grid after Bouchut failed to complete his single Superpole lap. The car ran strongly throughout, with Bouchut moving up to second place after the collision between the nr 15 Lister Storm and the nr 4 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper. After a close battle between Vosse and Duez for the lead in the second hour, the nr 1 Viper finally dropped down to third place in the final hour, after Terrien went wide under pressure from Verdon-Roe.
FIFTH FOR CARSPORT HOLLAND
The Carsport Holland team came away from Silverstone with just two points after a strong showing during the race. The nr 3 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R of Anthony Kumpen and Mike Hezemans ran second in the opening hour before Hezemans' tyres began to lose their grip, slowing the Dutchman.
The team changed the tyres at the first round of stops, and Kumpen returned to the track to take the lead in the second hour, but pulled off near the end of the second hour with a suspected broken prop-shaft. The second car, the nr 4 of Fabrizio Gollin and Luca Capellari, ran as high as third overall before Gollin was involved in a collision with the nr 15 Lister Storm Racing Lister Storm of Bobby Verdon-Roe. The Italian pitted to hand to Cappellari, but his stint was marred when he ran out of fuel on the last lap. He toured in slowly, handed back to Gollin for the final hour but he ran out of fuel at the end of the race.
SECOND CONSECUTIVE WIN FOR JMB FERRARI
French-based team JMB Racing took their second win of the season at Silverstone, with Christian Pescatori and Andrea Montermini driving the nr 50 car to victory. The pair made their way through from sixth in class and were second by lap 28 before the end of the first hour. Pescatori took the lead when the pole-sitting Freisinger Porsche 996 GT3-R of Stephane Ortelli and Ni Amorim spun with Amorim at the wheel. The Portuguese lost time and track position in the gravel, dropping to fifth in class before he suffered a puncture. They finished seventh in class.
SECOND PLACE FOR AUTORLANDO SPORT
The Autorlando Sport Porsche 996 GT3-R nr 58 of Johnny Mowlem and Toto Wolff finished second in class after an eventful race. Mowlem had a collision with the Cirtek Porsche of Adam Jones and Jirko Malcherek while the Slovakian was driving. The team taped up the damage to the front of the Autorlando Porsche while refuelling was taking place, and the car received a stop-and-go penalty for having too many people working on the car. Andrea Garbagnati and Andrea Bertolini took third place in their nr 51 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena after a late-race stop for fuel dropped them away from the Autorlando Porsche. The nr 68 System Force Porsche of Peter van Merksteijn and Phil Bastiaans was excluded from the results for failing to respect a stop-and-go penalty and the resulting black flag.
NOTES AND QUOTES
Fabio Babini, nr 12 Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper GTS-R: "The car was fantastic. The Lister was coming very fast and I had to push as I was short on fuel. This was only my second race in a GT category car, and the Chrysler Viper is fantastic. Marc was fantastic too."
Marc Duez, nr 12 Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper GTS-R: "I did not expect to win, but all drivers dream of winning. Of course, we were lucky but we worked hard too. It was a big challenge, and we were up against the local heroes, Lister, who were very fast, as was Bouchut's team. I am very pleased to win against such high quality people. It confirms the seriousness of Paul Belmondo Racing. It was a tactical race, but we had no time to slow down, we had to fight to the end of the race. I am very pleased to be driving with Fabio Babini."
Bobby Verdon Roe, nr 15 Lister Storm Racing Lister Storm: "My team mate used first gear at the start which rather wrong-footed me because I was in second. It was a good idea of his, but I got left behind. Hezemans was all over me and got past but then his tyres went off and I was all over the back of him. He was being extremely defensive, but I got him at Copse corner, but then my engine cut out and I lost momentum. Gollin had good momentum and he was alongside me when he turned in. We touched and both spun and I got going again. By the end of the race, I didn't know who I was behind, so I went flat out without destroying the tyres, which were superb. I was on the limit for the whole stint. I caught the Larbre car and he had a moment at Becketts and I got by. I had a misfire on the last lap, but it was a fantastic race, great fun and I really enjoyed it."
Paul Knapfield, nr 15 Lister Storm Racing Lister Storm: "My times were good but I am still finding the limit. I booted it out of the corners too much and ended up going backwards. It didn't faze me but I am still on a steep learning curve. The team is great, and give me lots of support."
Christophe Bouchut, nr 1 Chrysler Viper GTS-R, Larbre Competition: "We had a problem with the engine during the race. It was not a big problem, but I am a bit disappointed as we could have got a much better position, I am sure."
David Terrien, nr 1 Chrysler Viper GTS-R, Larbre Competition: "I came out of the pits and knew that I was in front [of Fabio Babini], but it was the first lap and the tyres were brand new. The car was good at the start of the stint and at the end, but in the middle it was worse and we were not quick enough. I went on the grass and the gravel when my pedal went to the floor. We were just not quick enough."
Luca Cappellari, nr 4 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R: "After the incident with Verdon Roe in the Lister, while Gollin was driving, I took over the car, and we tried to do as many laps as possible to try to get the normal pit stop window. But by the end of my stint I was out of petrol. I did my last lap very slowly and lost a minute and then Fabrizio did his last stint, but had to go slowly for the last ten laps otherwise he would have run out of fuel. We arrived safely. We were unlucky because I think we could have been second or third position."
Mike Hezemans, nr 3 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R: "The car was fine when I was driving. Maybe I was driving too hard because my tyres went off. I was on the limit, and I had to be very careful. I almost hit the nr 15 Lister when it spun - when he came back onto the track, I didn't know whether he was going left or right."
Anthony Kumpen, nr 3 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R: "The car was perfect, it was really running well. Mike had been driving hard during the first hour of the race. I started a bit slower, but the tyres were good during my stint. The car was very good until the final six laps of my stint--"
David Hallyday, nr 5 Ferrari 550 Maranello, Force One Racing: "We got a little bit further this time than last time. After ten laps the brakes started degrading very fast and I could not brake where I should have. I almost lost it four or five times at the end of the straight. Philippe went out and realised that there was a problem with the brakes so we had to change them. We were having a great time up until then. It is too bad, but we are learning as we go along. I don't know why we had a problem like that."
Lilian Bryner, nr 22 BMS Scuderia Italia, Ferrari 550 Maranello: "We definitely need power steering here. Around this circuit it is very difficult, the steering is very heavy and you lose time. I am still getting used to driving these cars, but it is a wonderful GT car. We last raced in the championship in 1997, and the type of cars has changed. This car is different to my Porsche; they are heavier to drive, but give more satisfaction."
Christian Pescatori, nr 50 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena: "It was a very difficult race. I started in sixth position and had four Porsches in front of me. I got past them, but the Freisinger Porsche was pushing very hard and it was difficult to overtake. It was an incredible race, and it was a difficult weekend for the team, but to have 20 points after two races is not too bad."
Andrea Montermini, nr 50 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena: "The race was quite difficult as the Porsches were quick and we had to push a lot to catch the leader. At the end we had plenty of time to make our final stop, I was quite comfortable doing 1:57s so after the leader went off there was no need to push. The Freisinger Porsche was on the limit, he closed the door but then went wide and spun. There was no contact between us."
Johnny Mowlem, nr 58 Autorlando Sport Porsche 996 GT3-R: "The team did a fantastic job, and Toto did a fantastic job. We made our splash and dash at the half way mark and I did another ten laps. At the end, we were ten seconds in front of the nr 51 JMB Racing Ferrari, but we didn't know that they had to do another splash and dash. Concerning my accident earlier in the race, I was lapping another Porsche. Despite flashing him all the way down the straight, he turned in on me. He came off worse, as my steering was straight and the water temperatures were OK too."
Toto Wolff, nr 58 Autorlando Sport Porsche 996 GT3-R: "I couldn't believe it when Johnny said that we had a stop-and-go penalty and we lost the time. I had Bertolini behind me and we had a good fight for 20-25 laps and I was doing laps of 1:56s as we had done all race, despite nearly going off twice!"
Andrea Garbagnati, nr 51 Ferrari 360 Modena: "It was a great race and we are very happy with third position. We thought that we would only have to stop once and we were conservative on the fuel, but when we realised that we were not going to do it, I began pushed towards the end of my stint."
Stephane Ortelli, nr 54, Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-R: "It was a good race with the Ferrari, we came in on the same lap for our pit stop. It was making the race really exciting. They took three seconds more than us, I came in with a 20-second lead and Ni came out with a 23-second lead, but this was not one of Ni's better days--"