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Adria 2008: Phoenix breaks duck

22 June 2008

Fabrizio Gollin and Mike Hezemans gave the GMAC-backed Phoenix Racing team its first win on Saturday night, following a close and exciting race at the Adria International Raceway in Italy.

Gollin and Hezemans eventually finished the third round in the 2008 FIA GT Championship 9.435 seconds up on their closest rivals in their #6 Corvette C6R after a tight four-way battle.

Marcel Fassler led at the start, but Andrea Bertolini took the lead on lap four, pulling out a narrow lead. It looked as if the Maserati would claim the win, but a drive-through penalty for a grid infraction dropped the car back.

In the final stint, Gollin took the lead, and, despite being under pressure from the Maserati and his team-mate Fassler, crossed the line to take his eighth FIA GT win - and to give his team-mate Hezemans his 12th victory.

"This was an emotional victory for me," said Gollin, who dedicated his victory to his friend and former driving instructor who died this week.

"The race was very tough for everyone. We fought, and at the end we pushed the car a lot and it went well. This is my home race so it's great to have a win here, I'm happy."

Bertolini and Michael Bartels meanwhile took the runners-up spot in the #1 Vitaphone Maserati MC 12: "What's really nice about the last three races we've had is that we're all so close, and we're really fighting fair, fighting for hundredths and thousandths of a second, and millimetres. I think we should keep on working like this and we'll have a fantastic year," stated Bartels.

The second Phoenix Racing Corvette driven by Swiss duo Marcel Fässler and Jean-Denis Deletraz were third - just 12 seconds behind the winner.

Christophe Bouchut and Xavier Maassen, carrying 40 kg penalty weight on the tight circuit after winning in Monza, were fourth in their SRT Corvette, allowing them to lose some ballast for Oschersleben. They are now tied with Bertolini and Bartels in the GT1 Drivers' points, closely followed by Adria victors Gollin and Hezemans.

Larbre Competition's Vincent Vosse and Greg Franchi rounded out the top five - the team's best result to date, while Philipp Peter and Allan Simonsen were sixth in their Gigawave Motorsport-run Aston Martin DB9. Peter and Simonsen were the only Aston Martin DB9's in the points as neither Jetalliance car reached the chequered flag.

Further down the order JMB Racing's Ben Aucott and Alain Ferte were seventh followed by AF Corse's Toni Vilander and Gianmaria Bruni, who took the honours in the GT2 class, ahead of team-mates Thomas Biagi and Christian Montanari in the sister Ferrari 430.

The Ferrari cars had an extremely close fight with the #61 Prospeed Competition Porsche of Emmanuel Collard and Richard Westbrook, but a problem with a headlight in the dark saw the Porsche, which had led the race, drop to fifth.

"It was a very difficult race," Bruni reflected. "I was very careful in the first braking turns. Emmanuel Collard, in the Porsche, passed me in a corner, in a very nice manoeuvre and then for the next fifteen laps was in front of me. It was very difficult for me to pass him on the straight. But I managed to pass him in the end. I braked late and managed to pass sideways, luckily enough not to touch, and went up the inside."

Matteo Malucelli and Paolo Ruberti took third for BMS Scuderia Italia - and tenth spot overall.

The result mirrors exactly the current GT2 Drivers classification, where Vilander and Bruni have taken a nine-point lead in the GT2 drivers' classification, with their team-mates Biagi and Montanari second, and Ruberti/Malucelli third. AF Corse have taken a 19-point lead in the Teams classification.

The FIA GT Championship now heads to Oschersleben in Germany next month for the fourth round in the series.


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