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BMS, TMC win at Magny-Cours

27 April 2003


An action-packed, high-attrition race around the redesigned Magny-Cours circuit in France saw Matteo Bobbi and Thomas Biagi take their second win of the season, while second place for team-mates Fabrizio Gollin and Luca Cappellari further extended BMS Scuderia Italia's championship lead.

The Lister Storm of Andrea Piccini and Jean-Denis Deletraz took third place in the 'senior' class, while, in N-GT, Team Maranello Concessionaires confirmed their early season promise by taking a first victory.

However, while Kelvin Burt and Darren Turner crossed the line first, their Ferrari 360 Modena was later excluded due to the capacity of the fuel tank. This promoted team-mates Jamie Davies and Tim Mullen to the lead, with the Freisinger Porsche of Marc Lieb and Stephane Ortelli second, and AutoPalace drivers Guillaume Gomez and Steve Hiesse third. Team Maranello Concessionaires have appealed the decision, and therefore the result of the race remains provisional.

After the torrential rain on Saturday, race day stayed dry, and 47,000 spectators came to watch the races, bringing the weekend total to 60,000.

A repeat of the Barcelona double for BMS Scuderia Italia looked far from certain, with the #23 and #22 cars only coming to the fore in the latter stages of the race, when assorted mechanical problems befell the rest of the field.

Christophe Bouchut, in the #1 Larbre Viper, took the lead at the start, and dominated the early stages of the race, building up a good lead. He was followed by the #2 Saleen, which was involved in a fine battle with Bobbi in the #23 Ferrari. The Saleen's progress finished on lap 14, however, as the car pulled off the track.

The next car to shine briefly was the #5 Force One Viper, with Mike Hezemans climbing up to second place, overtaking both the #23 Ferrari and the #14 Lister on one lap, before retiring with engine problems on lap 18.

The Larbre Competition Viper continued to lead until the first pit-stop, when a radiator leak was diagnosed and the car retired. This left Jamie Campbell-Walter, in the #14 Lister, at the front. He was soon joined by team-mate Andrea Piccini, in the #15 Storm, and the British team looked to be on course for a fine result.

The #23 car, however, was never far behind and, during the final hour, a good battle took place between Bobbi and Piccini for what appeared to be the runner-up spot. The more experienced Italian, suffering from a tyre problem, was not able to resist forever and, with 21 minutes to go, Bobbi took second place as Piccini pulled into the pits to change the left rear tyre, dropping down to fourth.

At this point, the #14 Lister had a lead of over half a minute, and appeared unassailable, but bad luck hit Campbell-Walter for the second race in a row, as a broken accelerator cable forced him to retire with only 14 minutes to go. Although the car was still classified sixth overall, it was of little consolation for the hard-working British crew.

The disappointment in the Lister camp was palpable, as it left the two BMS cars with a comfortable victory, while Piccini brought the remaining Storm in third place.

Behind them, the #11 Roos-Optima Chrysler Viper finished fourth, having started from 24th on the grid. The #8 Graham Nash Saleen of Ni Amorim, Pedro Chaves and Miguel Ramos was fifth, with Bobby Verdon-Roe and new team-mate Marco Zadra, in the Creation Lister, seventh after running into problems at the end of the race. Wieth Racing picked up the final point for eighth, the team's first point since starting work on their own version of the Ferrari 550 Maranello two years ago.

Neither JMB Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello made it to the finish, while the #18 Zwaan's Racing Chrysler Viper, having started from the last line of the grid, made it up to fifth place before retiring with engine problems.

“I would like to thank my team, team-mate and Michelin,” Thomas Biagi said afterwards. “It was very important for me to win at this track today, as I had my first F3000 race here many years ago, and in an accident, Marco Campos lost his life. I would like to dedicate this victory to his memory.”

In the GT points, BMS Scuderia Italia has a 22 points lead over Lister Racing, with the Swedish Roos-Optima Racing Team third. Biagi and Bobbi, who set the fastest lap with a time of 1min 38.625secs, jointly lead the drivers' classification, ahead of Gollin and Cappellari, with Piccini and Deletraz third.

The N-GT race was also incredibly close, with a number of leader changes, and some disappointing non-finishes for cars which showed great promise for much of the race. The leading N-GT car finished sixth in the overall classification, with only 1.93secs separating the top two cars.

The #50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS, with Ortelli at the wheel, led at the start. Setting the fastest lap on lap 9, with a time of 1min 44.283secs, the Monegasque was followed by two other Porsches, the #61 EMKA and #99 RWS Yukos examples leading the chase. Tim Sugden, with the speed he had shown all weekend, eventually took the lead in the EMKA car before, on lap 31, the Freisinger Porsche lost a wheel, and made slow progress back to the pits to replace it. Lieb also took the wheel earlier than had been planned, spoiling the team's strategy.

The EMKA and RWS cars were followed by both Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 360 Modena cars. On lap 38, after a racing incident between the #75 Eurotech Porsche and the Autopalace Ferrari 360 Modena, the Autopalace car lost a door. However, the French car was otherwise undamaged and was able to continue.

Although the #50 was recovering well, it looked as if the EMKA Porsche was heading for a win. However, shortly after its second pit-stop, the car pulled off to the side after the Adelaide hairpin with a broken engine. The #99 RWS Yukos Porsche, of Stephane Daoudi and Walter Lechner then led, but stopped on lap 89 for a 'splash and dash', which left the #88 TMC car in the lead, ahead of the #50 Freisinger Porsche and the sister #89 TMC Ferrari, which were fighting for second position.

A spin for the #'89 meant that the #50 had to take avoiding action, but both cars continued, although the Freisinger car dropped back to third. Trouble hit another Porsche, with the fourth-placed RWS car stopping four laps from the end with a broken driveshaft.

A final 'splash and dash' for the #88 did not prove enough for the car, which had to slow to avoid running out of fuel, and left the #89 TMC car of Burt and Turner to cross the line first, having made only one pit-stop. It was followed by the #88 and the #50 Freisinger Porsche, while the AutoPalace entry, without a door, took fourth place for the second race in a row, ahead of the second Freisinger Porsche of Gabriele Gardel and Bert Longin.

Sixth went to the #54 Cirtek Motorsport car of James Kaye and Xavier Pompidou, with the Barcelona-winning #52 JMB Racing Ferrari only seventh. The final point went to the #74 Team Eurotech Porsche of Mike Jordan and Mark Sumpter.

“It's a great finish after a bad start to the weekend, when we did not run on Friday” Kelvin Burt said. “It was an exciting race as at the end we did not know where everyone was ! We really have to thank Dunlop for this excellent result.”

However, after scrutineering, their #89 car was excluded, from the results, due to the fuel tank capacity. The team has appealed and, therefore, the results remain provisional.

In the provisional teams' classification, Team Maranello Concessionaires has a 13-point lead over JMB Racing and Freisinger Motorsport, with French team Autopalace fourth. Davies and Mullen lead the drivers' table, followed by JMB drivers Fabrizio de Simone and Andrea Bertolini.

The next round takes place in Pergusa, Italy, on 11 May, in just two weeks time.




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