Granja 500 charity race report

Barrichello/Kanaan/Giaffone/Wheldon victorious at Granja 500 Rubens Barrichello and his childhood friend Tony Kanaan won the Granja 500 in Brazil for the fifth time, in eight tries, competing against 74 karts and over 300 drivers. They teamed...

Barrichello/Kanaan/Giaffone/Wheldon victorious at Granja 500

Rubens Barrichello and his childhood friend Tony Kanaan won the Granja 500 in Brazil for the fifth time, in eight tries, competing against 74 karts and over 300 drivers. They teamed with IRL 2004 runner-up Dan Wheldon and Felipe Giaffone. Their biggest competition came from a team comprised of 2 time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves, one time Indy 500 winner Gil de Ferran, Grand-Am's Osvaldo Negri and 98 World Karting Champion Rubens Carrapatoso. After over ten and a half hours of competition, the margin of victory was only 15 seconds. Christian Fittipaldi, Mário Haberfeld and Costa-Rican Charlie Fonseca, last year winners, finished third, seven laps down and only 11 seconds ahead of fourth place finishers Clemente de Faria, Felipe Guimarães and Rodrigo Piquet.

The race started at midnight this Saturday (13), under a light mist which was gone after one hour. Pole sitter Barrichello lead briefly, but had to pit early to solve brake problems. The lead went to Brazilian karting Champion Sergio Jimenez, on Juan Pablo Montoya's team Petrobras, and was exchanged many times with João Paulo Bertuccelli, running Felipe Massa's team second kart. Barrichello gradually moved to the front, and so did Rubens Carrapatoso after a 53rd starting slot. Before sunrise, both of their teams were constantly in the lead, threatened only by Fittipaldi's team.

As expected by the high number of competitors, many accidents ocurred during the race, mostly causing only material damage. In one of them, Luciano Burti (Ferrari's test driver) finished his team's dream as he hit a tire barrier after a steering column failure, and in another Stephan de Sabrit had to be transported to a nearby hospital with a broken leg after spinning on the entrance to the straight and being hit by another kart.

The end of the race was very exciting, with Kanaan e Carrapatoso fighting to the last lap. Carrapatoso, recognized even by his adversaries as the most combative driver in the race, blamed an ill-timed pit stop -- when he had to wait in line for three karts to be re-fueled before taking off -- for the win: "If it wasn't for that line, we would have won, I am sure that is where the 15 seconds (of the victory margin) went".

Barrichello was overjoyed with his fifth win. One of the greatest promoters of this race, the Ferrari driver complimented his team's will to overcome the initial problems "All my teamates deserve great praise. I had two very satisfing moments this weekend, as the pole was also awesome -- I think I completed a perfect lap, with a kart which is not very powerful but demands a very technical drive. I was also happy as, in some moments during the race, my team was running 1-2-3".

A Granja 500 "rookie", Helio Castroneves said it was "fantastic" to race here, but was not sure if he would return next year "This was really awesome, but right now all I want is a shower and to stay away from the kart for a while...". After complimenting Carrapatoso's drive Helio commented that "My IRL team (Penske) was not very happy with my decision to race here, and asked me to only talk about it if I had a good result. I think they will be happy with my second place". Juan Pablo Montoya's team did not finish the race, after many problems during the night. Matt Jaskol was the best American, playing a big part in his team's 6th place ( the last podium position in this race ) : "This was awesome, to fight all night side by side with these guys...and then to go up on the podium with Barrichello, Kanaan, Fittipaldi. This was definitely a life moment, and I want to come back next year to climb even higher on the podium".

-avasport-

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Series Kart
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya