Spa 24: Series race report

Victory to Carsport Holland in the Total 24 Hours of Spa After 532 laps around the 7.004 km circuit of Spa Francorchamps, the nr 5 Carsport Holland Corvette C6-R of Deletraz, Hezemans, Fassler and Gollin, with technical assistance from Phoenix,...

Victory to Carsport Holland in the Total 24 Hours of Spa

After 532 laps around the 7.004 km circuit of Spa Francorchamps, the nr 5 Carsport Holland Corvette C6-R of Deletraz, Hezemans, Fassler and Gollin, with technical assistance from Phoenix, took the chequered flag to win the Total 24 Hours of Spa, round 6 of the 2007 FIA GT Championship. They finished ahead of long-time leader nr 1 Vitaphone Maserati MC 12 of Bartels, Biagi, van de Poele and Lamy, which had lost a lap after going off an hour before the end. Local heros PK Carsport came home third with their Corvette C5-R, driven by Kumpen, Longin, Bouvy and Mollekens.

In GT2, after a Ferrari whitewash in the five rounds to date, all honours went to Porsche with a trio of the German cars on the podium. Victory went to BMS Scuderia Italia's Porsche 997 GT3 RSR of Collard, Malucelli and Lieb. Second was the IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche of Lietz, Long and Narac, with Tech9 Motorsport third for Edwards, Machitski and Maassen.

G3 was won by Muhlner Motorsport with their Porsche, while the nr 105 Mosler won G2. JMB Racing won the innovative Coupe du Roi with a Ferrari 430 GT3.

RACE QUOTES

1st in GT1: Jean-Denis Deletraz -- nr 5 Carsport Holland Corvette C6.R:

"Last year we had an incredible race; we stayed in front for around 22 hours, but then we lost the race. This year we came to get our revenge, and we decided to push right from the beginning. Marcel Fassler did a tremendous job this time, especially during the rain. We won, it is beautiful. Our main ambition is the overall FIA GT Championship, this victory is a part of it, and this is a great moment for all of us. All of our main rivals made it to the end, so we did not outscore them by much. The Championship is still very close, it is not as it was a few years ago, when nearly all of the cars had to withdraw before the end. Nowadays, the GT cars are very reliable. We had absolutely no problem - the team did a great job."

1st in GT1: Marcel Fassler -- nr 5 Carsport Holland Corvette C6.R:

"During the rain it was just unbelievable, the car was really nice to drive, I had a good 'feel' for the car, and I had a lot of fun. I like this track so much, no matter what the conditions. I just did what I could do. It is great to win, I'm happy for all the team."

1st in GT1: Fabrizio Gollin -- nr 5 Carsport Holland Corvette C6.R:

"I have often won at Spa, but I was always in a good car, as in 2004 with the Ferrari 550. This year the Corvette is one of the most competitive cars in the Championship. It was my first race with the Corvette, I'm very happy as this car is really easy to learn, even in difficult weather situations like we had today. The most important thing for me was not to make any mistakes."

1st in GT1: Mike Hezemans -- nr 5 Carsport Holland Corvette C6.R:

"Pole position and victory - that was quite difficult. But I must say that, for me, all the credit goes to Marcel Fassler. When it was raining we were sat in our motorhome and we said to Marcel: Please keep going! He was so quick during the rain that we could hardly believe it. He spent a long time on track, and we have to thank him, he was on a different plane. Without Eric van de Poele's spin, we could not have won, it was that close. We are really happy with this result, it is very important for all the team".

2nd in GT1: Thomas Biagi -- nr 1 Vitaphone Racing Team Maserati MC12:

"This is the first 24 Hours I have finished, so at least that is some consolation. Actually, finishing second in these conditions is a good result, we scored points and it is important. Leading the Championship after the most challenging race of the season was our main goal. We still have some very tough races to do, but we will give the maximum effort to win this Championship."

2nd in GT1: Eric van de Poele -- nr 1 Vitaphone Racing Team Maserati MC12:

"First of all I want to congratulate the winners. They were so disappointed last year that I must find something for them this year! But seriously, the conditions were really hard, you tried your best, you tried to be on the limit. I made a little mistake at the end of my last double stint, so I have to apologize to the team. We tried our best. I want to congratulate Michael Bartels for his team; the Vitaphone Racing Team is stronger than last year, the preparation for the race was incredible, and I'm sure they are going to fight for the Championship, and I hope the end of the season will be good for them."

2nd in GT1: Michael Bartels -- nr 1 Vitaphone Racing Team Maserati MC12:

"First of all I would like to congratulate Carsport Holland, and the Belgian nation heroes who finished third. This race was unbelievable, we were all so close, it was a fantastic show. GT races are fascinating, the cars are great to look at, and this year the competition was stronger than ever before, so that is why we tried to be as prepared as we could. The team keeps getting better and better, we know this car perfectly. We should be happy with this second position; victory is one thing, but to score points is even more important for the Championship. In this race you can make a big gain, but you can also lose a lot if you score no points. We will try to win again next year. I would like to thank our drivers who did an incredible job. This was Pedro's first time with us this year, and his position within the team was almost the same as Marcel Fassler in the winning car - we kept asking him to stay in car as much as possible. We kept telling him: OK Pedro, it is your turn again, two hours! He put in a great performance, like Tomas and Eric. We are very happy."

2nd in GT1: Pedro Lamy -- nr 1 Vitaphone Racing Team Maserati MC12:

"This race was good. We started the race with a lot of understeer, which made the car very difficult to drive. But then we found a way to adjust things with the tyres and the car was better, so we were able to fight. We were starting to catch them up, and then with the rain we were able to take the lead. I'm very happy. The team did a great job. All together, we made a good combination, and we always made the right decision. I have to say that I was really impressed by the Vitaphone Racing Team. It was a real pleasure to be here."

3rd in GT1 : Bert Longin -- nr 4 PK Carsport Corvette C5-R:

"We are really happy to be on the podium. When it was dry we were very competitive, but then we hade problem with a brake pipe. The chance of winning got away from us there, as we spent around six minutes in the pits fixing the problem. Our mechanics did a great job, and Kurt Mollekens did a good job in diagnosing the problem, so we were able to fix the car as quickly as possible. At that point we were down in 8th position. We had to push, and we managed to come back. But during the rain we were not at the level that we needed to be at, we were not really effective on rain tyres. Working with Michelin we found a compromise, and the car was better."

3rd in GT1 : Anthony Kumpen -- nr 4 PK Carsport Corvette C5-R:

"We have mixed feelings. We were leading for the first five hours, so I'm sure we could have won. But on the other hand, it is fantastic to finish on the podium. We came from eight to third, we did our best, and in the end we are quite proud of this result."

3rd in GT1 : Kurt Mollekens -- nr 4 PK Carsport Corvette C5-R:

"It was a 24 hours sprint race! We had a good result at the end, the pace at the front was very fast, and we proved that we were able to be on the same pace as our competitors. But honestly, it was not possible to keep that pace for the entire 24 hours without any problems! The aquaplaning we had in the rain was really surprising, especially on the new part of the track. I hope they will find a solution for the future."

3rd in GT1 : Frederic Bouvy - PK Carsport Corvette C5-R:

"With this team, I was certain we could finish on the podium, and here we are. We thought that we would be able to make the difference during the rain, but unfortunately we had a problem before the rain came. The conditions were really extraordinary at the end of the race. The most important is that we are on the podium."

1st GT2 : Emmanuel Collard, nr 97 BMS Scuderia Italia Porsche 997 GT3 RSR:

"It's a really good result, especially for the team, for Porsche. To be in the first three is a really good result. For us, for the team, it's also good because with the points, we're coming back up in the championship, with only 2 points less than the leaders. We were really pleased that the car had no problems at all during the race; all three of us were just running as fast as we could and everything went well. I don't really have much to say, because everything just went so well!"

1st GT2 : Matteo Malucelli, nr 97 BMS Scuderia Italia Porsche 997 GT3 RSR: "It's my first win in FIA GT today, and I'm very happy. We didn't have any problems with the Pirelli tyres or with the car, everything was perfect, and I'm just very happy."

1st Marc Lieb, nr 97 BMS Scuderia Italia Porsche 997 GT3 RSR:

"This is one of my favourite circuits and it's fantastic to win here again. I had really great team mates, and a great team; it was just fantastic to be here, supporting them, and especially getting 20 points for the championship for them. I was just here to drive and to make no mistakes, and I'm very happy. We're definitely strong in the wet, we have a rear engine which suits us a lot better, and we can use the whole traction of the car. We also saw today during the warm up that the car is very quick in the rain, and that we really need it to be wet to be competitive with the GT1 cars. It's nice to drive and easy to drive in the rain. "

2nd Richard Lietz IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche 997 GT3 RSR:

"It's just like Le Mans, it was my first time there as well and we won there, and it's also my first time here. We're on the podium, so that's good for the team, and it looks like we're three good drivers. The team didn't make any mistakes, it was good enough for everybody and we are really happy. "

2nd Raymond Narac IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche 997 GT3 RSR:

"Our main goal was to get on the podium. Although we had quite a few little technical problems, like punctures - we had 4 punctures in all. I think the start of the race went well for us but we got a puncture early on, and we had other technical problems too. After a burst tyre, we struggled to get back up from 6th place. It's really just a great result for us, since we were really aiming for the podium."

2nd Patrick Long IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche 997 GT3 RSR:

"The race was very enjoyable, Spa is a circuit I've been to before, but I hadn't been here with the FIA GT before. It was a new, culturing experience and I really enjoyed being with the series. As Richard had said, we raced together at LeMans, and this was an unplanned race for us and it was sort of a bonus for Richard and I to be invited back with Richard and to race with his team. This is a very competitive series and we're delighted to be second. "

3rd in GT2: Leo Machitski -- Tech9 Motorsport Porsche 997 GT3 RSR:

"It is a great result for me and Sean, for our first 24 Hours races, a great result for the team. Our goal was to go until the finish, and Sean add to finish on the podium! So our goal is achieved. I'd like to say thank you to Tech9 Motorsport. They did a great job. We started last, was we had an engine problem in qualification and warm-up, but that was OK for the race. Thanks also to Porsche for the support we had."

3rd in GT2: Sean Edwards -- Tech9 Motorsport Porsche 997 GT3 RSR:

"This is the best place to be : on the podium, I'm really really happy, Leo did a great job, the team do not make any mistakes, and Sascha give us a huge experience. We did not have any problems, the Porsche was perfect."

3rd in GT2: Sacha Maassen -- Tech9 Motorsport Porsche 997 GT3 RSR:

"The car went fine, we did not have any problems and I'm really happy to finish on the podium with the other Porsches. Last year we ran this car here for the first time, we had a lot of problems, but this year it went fine for all the Porsches. That is a good sign, the car is well developed. I did not drive it since Spa last year, so it was interesting to see how good the car is now. This is my home race, so I'm always happy to be here, and I hope I will come back next year and finished on the podium again."

G2 winner : Guino Kenis, nr 105 G&A Racing Mosler MT900R: At the start of the race, we already had a little accident, but only a shaft at the back was broken, but for the rest of the race, the car did a terrific job, we had no problems and everything went very well. The Mosler is already a very good car, and the car doesn't need much fuel either, and we also need less pit stops.

G3 winner: Paul Van Splunteren, nr 124 Muehlnet Motorsport Porsche 997 GT3 Cup:

"We are very happy. We basically had a faultless race. The car ran very well, we had no problems at all, apart from some pick up and a rip on the bumper. We also thought that the conditions were quite difficult, especially this morning, when there was so much water on the track and so much rain, I was very happy when the race director decided to put out the safety car, because I saw cars fly off au Eau Rouge and the Pit Straight. I was wondering in the car what I was doing there. But furthermore, the team was very well balanced, evenly matched during the night and the day. We had a lot of fun and the team did a most fantastic job. We're very happy that we won our class. Also, the battle with the Ferrari for the first 20 hours was fantastic, unfortunately, he didn't survive the crash with the pit wall. It was sad because we had been basically fighting with them for the whole event, it was fantastic to have this battle and to really race someone; after they were gone, we just had to survive the rain."

Coupe du Roi winner Peter Kutemann, JMB Racing Ferrari 430 GT3:

"I enjoyed the race very much. First of all, I'd like to thank Stephane Ratel for coming up with the idea for the Coupe du Roi. I think it's a fantastic opportunity for gentlemen drivers to share cars with six people, it makes a 24 hour race like this attainable for people with a smaller budget, and I think that's what we all want. It's the first time I've driven the GT3; it's a fantastic and reliable car, as you can see; there were practically no technical problems, except for a water leak at one point, but any car can have that problem. I drove for the first time with Henk Haane, he was a great co-driver; I normally drive with Antoine Gosse, in the Corvette in the Citation Cup. With the JMB Team, you know that you've got the best back up that you can dream of. Finishing this race was a great thing, but with a professional team like JMB and the good drivers that we had, it was not that difficult. I can really recommend this type of race to anybody who wants to drive a GT3 car, and for someone with a limited budget, he can drive in a very high class, and drives in one of the most populated spectacles of the year at Spa; it's a great event! There's a lot of publicity, and I can't recommend it enough to anyone who wants to race. "

-credit: fia

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Fabrizio Gollin , Emmanuel Collard , Eric van de Poele , Pedro Lamy , Marcel Fassler , Michael Bartels , Jean-Denis Deletraz , Patrick Long , Anthony Kumpen , Mike Hezemans , Stéphane Ratel , Marc Lieb , Peter Kutemann , Thomas Biagi , Antoine Gosse , Bert Longin , Matteo Malucelli , Kurt Mollekens , Raymond Narac , Sean Edwards , Leo Machitski , Paul Van Splunteren , Richard Lietz , Henk Haane , Guino Kenis
Teams IMSA Performance Matmut