Vitaphone inherits Hungaroring win
31 August 2009
Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini picked up an unexpected GT1 class win at the Hungaroring after the first car across the line failed post-race scrutineering.
The #14 K plus K Motorsport Saleen S7R appeared to have claimed the victory after Karl Wendlinger and Ryan Sharp crossed the line first at the end of an action-packed race, but the Czech team was later excluded as the car failed the engine stall test.
The stewards' decision therefore raised the #1 Vitaphone Maserati MC 12 to top spot, leading a 1-2 as the #33 Vitaphone Racing/Team DHL MC 12 took second spot, ahead of the #8 Sangari Team Brazil Corvette Z06.
The revised result propelled Bartels and Bertolini into a four-point lead over Mike Hezemans and Anthony Kumpen, with Xavier Maassen now third. Although the results - including those from GT2 and G2 - are now confirmed, they remain provisional pending anti-doping controls.
Before the officials intervened, however, the K plus K car recovered to take first place on the road after contact early in the race negated its front row start.
“The race was very hectic," Wendlinger reported, prior to hearing the results of scrutineering, "In the first stint, Alex [Müller] missed the braking a bit in the first corner after a few laps, then we had contact and I dropped back, but I managed to catch up again quite quickly, passing a few cars.
"I tried to pass the Luc Alphand Corvette, but had to try and avoid him and ended up going on the dirty line. I dropped back again, caught up again, tried to pass Bert Longin and touched him - for which I am sorry. Then Ryan did a great middle stint.
"In my second stint, two laps after I'd left the pits, the fuel alarm went off, I lost power steering, had a misfire and no radio, no power shift. I said 'okay, that's it', but suddenly, after three laps, everything was working again. I don't know why or how, but I'm happy that I finished first. It was good luck to win this race and get these points.”
The Bartels/Bertolini Maserati prevailed to take second spot, despite carrying 80kg of success ballast, bouncing back after losing its grip on the blue riband Spa 24 Hours last time out.
“If you'd told me before the race that we'd finish with a heavy car, with 80 kg extra ballast, I would have laughed and said we'd have no chance," Bartels admitted, "As Andrea said, we did very hard work yesterday on the set-up, and also worked with the Michelin people to find the best possible set-up for the 80kg ballast over the distance.
"Of course, in the end, you could see that it was pretty hard for all the cars - ours included. In the end, I think Andrea and myself had so much experience to carry the car home and collect the points. After not such a fantastic weekend for the whole Vitaphone team at Spa - apart from second place for the third car - we've come back with a very strong result and we're leading both championships again. Of course, our car is back to 100kg for Portimao, which won't be very easy on that hilly circuit, but I think it's been a good day."
In GT2, the #60 Prospeed Competition Porsche 997 GT3 RSR recovered from the back of the grid to overtake the #50 AF Corse Ferrari and secure victory on the very last lap, with Richard Westbrook and Emmanuel Collard claiming their third win of 2009.
“It was one of those races you just want to be part of, and it was a pleasure driving every lap," Westbrook revealed, "The team set up the car perfectly. We weren't so good when the tyres were new but, when the tyres went off, our car just had a good drop-off compared to everyone else. I saw that in the first stint when I was following Gimmi [Bruni]. Even though the gap was eight seconds, I knew we had a chance because his car dropped off the pace as the tyres got older.
"This is a fantastic result after yesterday. I thought we deserved to be on top all weekend, the team have been on top form and we've been so hungry to close the gap to the #50 car and we're all delighted.”
Toni Vilander and Gianmaria Bruni finished second, despite carrying a total of 100kg of penalty weight, and retain a two-point lead in the overall standings. Paolo Ruberti and Matteo Malucelli, in the #77 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 430 GT2, finished third for their best result of the season so far.
Luis Perez Companc, in the #95 Pecom Racing Team Ferrari 430 GT2, won the Citation Cup for gentlemen drivers.