Spa: Hour Six report

Proximus 24 Hours of Spa 6-Hour Report LARBRE COMPETITION IN THE LEAD After the first six hours of the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, the 2001 winners and reigning FIA GT Champions, Larbre Competition Chéreau, took the first points of the evening,...

Proximus 24 Hours of Spa
6-Hour Report

LARBRE COMPETITION IN THE LEAD

After the first six hours of the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, the 2001 winners and reigning FIA GT Champions, Larbre Competition Chéreau, took the first points of the evening, after leading for most of the race so far. The five points won by the nr 1 Chrysler Viper GTS-R of Bouchut, Terrien, Vosse and Bourdais have put them back in the lead of the Teams Classification, ahead of Lister Storm Racing, whose two cars were running in fourth and fifth places at the one-quarter mark. The nr 3 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R of Hezemans, Kumpen and Tassin was running in second place, ahead of the nr 12 Paul Belmondo Chrysler Viper, while the team's second car took the final half point for sixth.

In N-GT, the nr 54 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-R of Ortelli, Dumas and Collard took the maximum points, finishing the first quarter in a fine fifth place overall. They led their main class rivals, the nr 50 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena of Pescatori, Montermini, Bertolini and Garbagnati, by a lap, further closing the gap in the Classification as the nr 55 Freisinger Porsche took the points for third. Fourth place went to the nr 76 RWS Porsche of Quester, Riccitelli, Wolff and Peter, having made a fine recovery after early problems. System Force scored a point on their return to the Championship after missing two rounds, while Seikel Motorsport took the final half point.

The spectators flocked to the Belgian circuit of Spa today, for the second running of the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa as a round of the FIA GT Championship. With double points on offer, a quarter at six hours, a quarter at twelve hours and half at the end of the race, the event is crucial in terms of the Classification in both the GT and N-GT categories.

Spa lived up to all expectations in the first six hours of the race. The weather was as changeable as has come to be considered as normal in this part of the Belgian Ardennes, with sunshine, rain and everything in between. As for the racing, the first quarter of the race saw a full complement of close racing, various incidents, and a number of changes of leader as the 50 cars took the start.

The BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello cars dominated the start of the race. Three-times race winner Andrea Piccini led away from pole, keeping the lead through out his stint and setting the fastest lap so far on lap 4, 2:18.745. However, as the GT cars came in for their first scheduled pit stops, the second BMS car took the lead due to Kox remaining at the wheel, with old tyres. However, the Ferrari challenge was not to last long, with Deletraz dropping back slightly before stopping with oil pressure problems and Kox returning to the pits with transmission problems.

The Lister Storm cars also had problems, with the nr 14 car suffering a puncture and bodywork damage after a collision with a backmarker. This left the Chrysler Viper cars, long accustomed to success in endurance racing, to dominate the GT class. The nr 1 Larbre Competition of Bouchut, Vosse, Terrien and Bourdais took the lead on lap 41, ahead of a group of other Chrysler Viper GTS-R cars, including the nr 3 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper of Hezemans, Kumpen and Tassin, the nr 12 Paul Belmondo Viper of Babini, Duez and Derichebourg, and the nr 2 Larbre Viper of Rosenblad, Defourny, Chereau and Lagniez.

The N-GT class saw an incredible battle between the nr 54 Freisinger Porsche 996 GT3-R of Dumas, Ortelli and Collard, and the nr 50 JMB Racing Ferrari Modena 360 of Montermini, Pescatori, Bertolini and Garbagnati. The two cars, which are also the main contenders in the N-GT classification, spent much of the first six hours in the top ten. 2001 winners RWS Motorsport were less fortunate, with the nr 76, an early class leader, losing time and places after Luca Riccitelli hit the guard rail, and the nr 77 losing over 40 minutes in the pits after two wishbone failures and a loss of power steering for Antonio Garcia.

After three hours, the leading car had covered nearly 500 km, the standard FIA GT race distance. By the time the safety car took to the track for the second time, after four and a half hours of racing, the nr 1 Larbre Chrysler Viper had a one-lap lead over the nr 3 Carsport Viper, which had recovered after losing time during the first safety car period. Best non-Viper was the nr 15 Lister Storm, in fifth place. The leading N-GT car, the nr 54 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-R was in sixth position overall, less than a lap ahead of the nr 50 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena.

The nr 2 Larbre Viper dropped out of the leading group after a puncture at the top of the Raidillon sent Carl Rosenblad spinning into the tyre barriers. He returned slowly to the pits. The nr 4 Carsport Holland car also dropped out of contention, with gearbox problems.

As the night fell, the cars continued towards the first points, awarded at six hours. But even after that, there was a long way to go, and plenty more points to be awarded to the cars and drivers remaining in the race.

-fia-

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Andrea Piccini , Antonio Garcia , Carl Rosenblad , Luca Riccitelli , Paul Belmondo
Teams Larbre Competition