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Hart attacks at Brno
17 September 2000
Dutchman David Hart put in a great wet weather drive for the Carsport Holland team who won their third race of the year and sent the GT Championship to a showdown at Magny Cours.
For the second race in succession, the weather was not kind to the GT Championship contenders and after two fine, bright days in the Czech Republic, Sunday at Brno dawned grey and overcast.
The morning warm-up was held on a drying track although any hopes of a dry race were dashed when a mid morning downpour forced the start to take place behind the safety car. The race was delayed for more than half an hour whilst the course workers tried to clear the rivers of water that had started flowing across the circuit. After five 'slow' laps, the 24 cars were unleashed in a great plume of spray with pole man Julian Bailey in the Lister Storm taking the lead into the first turn.
With a clear view ahead, Bailey simply walked away from the rest of the field in the opening laps and his lead was out to more than ten seconds after just half a dozen laps. Behind the Englishman, the second Lister of Philippe Favre, the Carsport Holland Viper of Mike Hezemans and the first of the two Belmondo Viper's of Vincent Vosse were disputing second place. All three cars took turns in holding the place until Hezemans finally made a clear break and set off after Bailey.
Conditions were decidedly changeable in the early going with the rain abating after just a few laps and a faint dry line emerging. The slow speed of the race meant that many teams switched to a one-stop strategy, leaving the supposedly slower drivers out at the finish. Hezemans and Hart however were intent on making two pit stops and knowing that Bailey and Campbell-Walter would more than likely be going for just a single stop, the former slowly began cutting into the lead of the Lister as the race moved towards the first pit window.
With conditions looking uncertain, the leading Lister squad took a major gamble on sending JCW out on slick tyres. It took the team just half a lap to realise that they had made the wrong decision for within a matter of laps the Englishman was tumbling down the order. Hezemans chose to send out co-driver David Hart on his used wet tyres and the Dutchman moved into the lead as the Lister floundered. However the orange car had another Lister to contend with as Nicolaus Springer had moved the sister Storm up into second place ahead of Boris Derichebourg in the leading Belmondo Viper.
Surprisingly, Lister kept JCW out on slicks for more than ten laps and although the Englishman should've been given an award for bravery, the black and white car had dropped to sixth by the time he finally had wet tyres again.
Up at the front Hart easily moved clear of Springer and the Dutchman put in his best performance of the year by far as he handed Hezemans a lead that would not be lost.
The main point of interest in the second half of the race was the stunning progress of Campbell-Walter who gripped the Lister by the scruff of the neck and set about reducing his one lap deficit to the leader. JCW soon set about his task with considerable aplomb and overtook both Belmondo Viper's, Lausitzring winner Wolfgang Kaufmann and the second Lister of Favre on his way to a well-deserved second place.
That performance allowed Lister to regain their lead over the Belmondo team in the GT Teams Championship with one round remaining although the duo's lead in the GT Drivers Championship has been cut to 4.5 points.
Favre kept the second Lister in third place to give the marque its first double podium finish of the year a full minute behind the victorious Hezemans, whose slow final stop reduced his advantage over the charging JCW to just 20 seconds. The only other car on the same lap as the winner after almost three hours and a total of 73 laps was the Vosse/Derichebourg Viper, whose 100kg of ballast was just too much of a penalty in the difficult conditions. Kaufmann/Haupt couldn't match their Lausitzring heroics but still recorded a respectable fifth place finish in the reliable Freisinger Porsche.
The final point GT point went to the second Belmondo Viper of Claude-Yves Gosselin and Paul Belmondo who were the last of the truly competitive GT runners after the Ferrari and both Lamborghini's retired and the Racing Box Viper struck a series of mechanical and driver related problems and struggled home in 19th.
The changeable conditions did not allow the NGT runners to look as threatening as they had done at the Lausitzring although seventh, eighth and ninth overall was no mean achievement for the leading contenders. Once again the race came down to a straight fight between Luca Riccitelli/Dieter Quester and Christophe Bouchut/Patrice Goueslard and it was the latter pair who emerged on top by a comfortable 40 seconds after electing to make just one stop as opposed to Riccitelli's two.
Third position in class went to the second Larbre Porsche of Ferdinand De Lesseps and Andre Ahrle who recorded their first podium of the year after the G Force entry of Magnus Wallinder/Nigel Smith retired. The Pennzoil backed machine had looked to challenge the leading contenders in the early going and could well have pulled off their first class victory of the year until a problem sidelined the car after just 19 laps.
There is now almost a month break for the GT Championship combatants before they move on to the snooker-table smooth Magny Cours circuit in France where both driver and team titles will be resolved.
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