Season finale at Mar de Aj? crowns champion

The Turismo Carretera closed a fantastic season in the circuit of Mar de Ajó, where it held the first race of the year last February. The category arrived to this sixteenth round with the championship almost finished. Guillermo Ortelli ...

The Turismo Carretera closed a fantastic season in the circuit of Mar de Ajó, where it held the first race of the year last February. The category arrived to this sixteenth round with the championship almost finished.

Guillermo Ortelli (Chevrolet) was no doubt the big protagonist of the weekend. With 23 points of difference and 25 in dispute, the fourth championship was in his pocket. If Diego Aventín wanted to get his first championship of T.C., he must finish at least second in the series and win the final race, and of course, Guillermo shouldn`t score any points. Not easy.

The activity of Saturday started perfect for Chevrolet. Cristian Ledesma took the first place followed by Ortelli and Roberto Urretavizcaya (Chevrolet). Fourth was Omar Martínez (Ford) and Diego Aventín (Ford), fifth.

On Sunday, the start of the first series was almost won by Ledesma until the oil in the track left by an unknown car put the young driver second at the end. The winner was Martínez after the gift of the lead.

The second series was the most important for sure. Why? Because in the first row were Ortelli and Aventín. Here it might be a definition for the championship. And it was. Aventín passed Ortelli in the start. Ortelli tried everything to get into the first place position and he did, when the engine of Aventín said good bye. Ortelli comfortably won the second series followed by Juan María Traverso (Chevrolet) who had just come back to the category in this competition. With this result Ortelli won his fourth championship in eight seasons in T.C. without the need of the final race.

Even thought all the eyes were with the champion, the third series was won by other Chevrolet in the hands of Urretavizcaya followed by Ernesto Bessone (Dodge) who did a great job and Luis Minervino (Chevrolet).

With the championship already won by Ortelli, the final race started with `Urreta` in the pole after winning the fastest series of the weekend. He was followed by Martínez and Guillermo, who in the first lap lost out and was in fifth place. Ledesma was fourth when a mistake put him off the track and out of the race. After winning the qualifying session on Saturday, it was a horrible Sunday for him. However this was Ledesma's best season in T.C. since he joined the category. Ledesma finished the season fifth with 160 points and two victories.

The race continued without many situations until lap 14 when Bessone, who was third tried to pass Martínez. A friction between them put Bessone in ninth place and Martínez, with the car damage, fourth. Ortelli was behind them and also lost one position to the hands of Traverso who jumped from fifth to second position after the situation. Ortelli started to push and he passed Traverso after a couple of laps in a great fight between the two drivers with many championships between the two of them; six for Traverso and, of course, four for Ortelli.

With a fantastic car and with an spirit of victory, the champion put everything he had to get into the first position. Traverso after a fantastic race with Ortelli had an engine problem and had quit when he would have finished on the podium.

In lap 22 Ortelli was about to pass Urrtevizcaya when a problem with a tyre made the leader lose control giving Ortelli the win on the track, or was believed by all. But the T.C. has surprises; the stewards gave Urretavizcaya the victory because they put out a red flag when they saw fans on the track (a constant problem of T.C. races). The problems was on the lap after Urreta`s tyre failure, so they took as final result the end of lap 22, when Urretavizcaya was leading.

Oretlli wasn`t so happy with the decision because he said: "The lap I passed as leader, I didn`t see people in the track, this was the best race of the year for me."

However victory or not, Guillermo Ortelli is the king of Turismo Carretera. Ortelli born on April 25, 1973 in Salto, province of Buenos Aires. His first race in T.C. was on September 11, 1994 in Buenos Aires. Also the day of his first victory in the category. In 112 races, he had won 14 and finished 37 times on the podium. With only 30 years of age, he has four championships of T.C. (1998, 2000, 2001 and 2002). With only one victory this season against three victories each by Aventín and Marcos Di Palma, the key to Ortelli's championship was his consistency. Also the fact that his team has one of the best budgets of the category. He is the driver with more championships for Chevrolet and he is a clear idol for the fans. Not just for his results but also for his humility outside of the race tracks.

For Ortelli his only international experience was this year in the American ARCA series. Ortelli would like to repeat that next season, but also he wants to win the championship of T.C. 2000, where in his 103 races he has had four victories.

"I would like to be champion in T.C. 2000," said Ortelli. No doubt Guillermo Ortelli is the king of T.C. and as Ortelli is the king, Omar Martínez is something like the prince. Martínez finished second this championship like he did in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Finishing second so many times could be seen as a loser. Like in 2001 when he was the candidate and he lost the championship in the last race. After that tough moment, Martínez left the team of Alberto Canapino (who went to work with Ortelli in 2002) and he started the second race of the year with his own team. So again he finished second in the championship, but it is not that bad for him who during the year as he always said: "I`m not candidate for the championship." Martínez is like Ortelli, humble and very fast. The difference is that Ortelli has four championships of T.C. and cero of T.C. 2000 and Martínez four sub-championships in T.C., one in T.C. 2000 and maybe one more next December 15th in the last race of the category in 2002.

Diego Aventín finished third in the championship. "Guillermo deserved to be the champion. I`m not sad because I lost the championship, but because this is the first time that I fought for it and because a great driver beat me," said the driver of only 22 years and with a great future.

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Series General
Drivers Omar Martinez , Guillermo Ortelli