New helmet brings victory for Campbell Walter
23 April 2002
Sporting a new helmet design, Lister's Jamie Campbell Walter with team-mate Nichlaus Springer managed a copybook win at Magny Cours for the first race of the FIA GT season.
The pole sitting Lister got off to an early lead with the Larbre Competition Viper of Christophe Bouchut / David Terrien following. In its first race shod with Dunlop rubber in the FIA GT arena the Lister was looking good in the early stages. By the end of the second lap the lead two cars, with only 3 tenths between them, had a four second gap back to the sister Larbre car of Rossenbald and Vosse.
By lap seven the Dunlop shod Lister had broken away to give itself some 4 second gap from the second placed car and 9 seconds from the third placed Viper. And so it continued with the Lister breaking away from the field.
The other Lister, that of Bobby Verdon-Roe and Paul Knapfield, found itself dropping back from its sister car, a power deficit of some 40-50 bhp going some way to explaining this. Verdon-Roe also had the odd sideways moment especially after the Prodrive serviced No. 22 Ferrari Maranello understeered off the track leaving some traction reducing debris behind. At the front by lap 11 the from the lead Lister was 5.2 to Bouchut and 8.6 to Hezemens who looked to be driving a fine first stint.
The Paul Belmondo squad certainly saw a lot of action in its home race. First the No. 12 car, driven at the time by Fabio Babini slid off on the straight after the Adelaide corner, with mechanical failure being the likely cause. Then action on track and off track from Paul Belmondo himself. First he was nudged into a spin by the No. 23 Ferrari 550 of BMS Scuderia Italia driven by Jean-Denis Deletraz. Then, on returning to the pits to swap driving responsibilities with Claude-Yves Gosselin, Belmondo took his anger from the incident to the BMS garage to vent his frustrations.
“I don't know who was in the car but it pushed me off the track at the chicane but when I got to 180 he jut pushed me up from behind” said a highly animated Belmondo afterwards.
After 36 laps 36 Campbell Walter, who wass sporting a new helmet design for this race, was leading Bouchut by 18secs, with the second Lister some 6 seconds further down. It was still a good effort for Lister boss Laurence Pearce's second car, making it from sixth to third in the first stint. Unfortunately for Pearce the second car ultimately was to expire at the 63 lap mark.
Other cars leaving the race included the No. 7 Riccitelli/Quester Porsche 996 GT no. 7 out due to an engine blow as early as lap 34. The other BMS Scuderia Ferrari only managing 8 laps was at least better than the Force One Racing Ferrari of Phillipe Alliot and David Hallyday, which managed to break its gearbox before racing even began. Joining it by not starting the race was the Lehman Sport Clerico/Kaufmann Viper.
Other 'Did Not Finish' cars were the Team Art Viper of Lafon and Jarier, out after 65 laps as was the Proton Competition Felbermayr Porsche GT2. 28 laps was all that was managed by the Cirtek Sangiuolo/Ferti Porsche GT3.
The second placed car, that of Bouchut opted for an early first stop and came in at the 35 lap mark to hand over to Terrien. Bouchut had found the racing in his first stint of 2002 closer than before: “the gaps are definitely smaller than last year there are some differences because of different driver we are happy we are suffering a little from a lack of preparation but I'm happy to see we are able to battle for the lead”
Jamie Campbell-Walter was in to change soon afterwards, and proclaimed himself happy with efforts so far: “we have no problems.we had a nice lead but it was very hard to pull away, obviously it's the first time on the Dunlop tyres, they were fantastic through the stint.”
For the Hezemans car there were problems with a stop and go penalty for passing under yellows. As if the stop wasn't enough penalty that it was botched by the stop board official merely added insult to injury.
In NGT Stephan Ortelli in the Freisinger Porsche 911 GT3-RS was late stopping as was Christian Pescatori in the JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena. Also showing well in the class was the Jurgen von Gartzen/Ian Khan combination JVG Porsche 911 GT3 going well an hour down into the race.
With the second drivers on board the Bouchut car, now driven by David Terrien chased down Nichlaus Springer in the lead Lister and found its was past around the 51 lap mark. By lap 56 Bouchut was still in the lead with the Hezemans car, driven by Kumpen in second place, just a third of a second behind and the Lister now 14 seconds down.
Springer continued to drop away from the lead which the Carsport Holland and the Larbre Viper battling up ahead for the lead corner through corner, lap after lap at the mid-way stage of the race. Nose to tail the pair caved through the backmarkers until Kumpen finally made it past.
The Carsport Holland car made a late stop. Earlier the Lister had been in with Springer just in the car for 40 minutes. The tactic meant that Campbell-Walter was going to have a very long final stint; the expectation being that he would have to make a final splash and dash, and therefore gain a sufficient gap for this. After the Carsport Holland Stop Campbell inherited the lead.
Campbell-Walter nailed the Lister to make up sufficient gap, and that he managed admirably. Before the first stop the Lister had managed a long run which could have been indication enough for the other teams of where the Lister tactics were going. A late splash and dash was were the card fell. 20 minutes from the end, Campbell Walter had a lead of a minute, plenty of time for a comfortable stop and back into the lead. Hezemans still in second place ended up crossing the finish line some 22 seconds adrift. It had looked like there would be more of a challenge for the second place from last years championship winning Larbre trailing off near the end to cross the line 12 seconds behind the Carsport Viper.
NGT saw the Friesinger Amorium/Ortelli just stretch out the petrol fumes to allow it not to make a final stop. Ultimately this was to be in vain, a post race appeal by the JMB squad saw the No. 54 get disqualified from the race and loose the NGT win. That meant that the Pescatori/Montermini JMB Racing Ferrari took the win.
So an impressive debut for the new helmet of Jamie Campbell-Walter, a victory for Dunlop in Michelin's back yard and a first race victory in FIA GT for Nichlaus Springer.
1 No. 14 GT Lister Storm Racing Campbell-Walter/Springer Lister Storm 108 laps
2 No.3 GT Team Carsport Holland Hezemans/Kumpen Chrysler Viper GTS-R -22.5 secs
3 No.1 GT Larbre Competition – Chereau Bouchut/Terrien Chrysler Viper GTS-R -36.6 secs
4 No.4 GT Team Carsport Holland Cappellari/Gollin Chrysler Viper GTS-R 107 laps
5 No.2 GT Larbre Competition – Chereau Rosenblad/Vosse Chrysler Viper GTS-R 107 laps
6 No.23 GT BMS Scuderia Italia Deletraz/Piccini Ferrari 550 Maranello 106 laps
7 No.11 GT Paul Belmondo Racing Belmondo/Gosselin Chrysler Viper GTS-R 104 laps
8 No.54 N-GT Freisinger Motorsport Amorim/Ortelli Porsche 911 GT3-RS 103 laps *
9 No.50 N-GT JMB Racing Pescatori/Montermini Ferrari 360 Modena 103 laps
10 No.60 N-GT JVG Racing von Gartzen/Khan Porsche 911 GT3-RS 102 laps
*No. 8 car was disqualified post race.
Class in Italics.