Brno 2004: Vitaphone, Alzen and Bartels win again
30 May 2004
Dominating the race from the start, the #5 Vitaphone Racing Team Saleen S7 of Uwe Alzen and Michael Bartels took its second win of the year today [Sunday] at Brno, surviving a last-hour scare when it lost a wheel.
The black and green Saleen crossed the finish line almost 30 seconds ahead of the #17 JMB Racing Ferrari 575 M Maranello of 1999 Champion Karl Wendlinger and his new team-mate, Jaime Melo of Brazil.
Championship leaders Fabrizio Gollin and Luca Cappellari were third, despite carrying 100 kg of penalty weight, while their team-mates Matteo Bobbi and Gabriele Gardel, lying second for most of the three-hour race, pulled out just laps from the end, an engine problem having caused their fuel consumption to soar.
"When I saw what happened to the wheel, I spoke to the team and told them," Alzen explained. "I had to come in and we changed the wheel, and then there was a 12-second gap to the leader. But the Pirelli tyres were in great condition and the car was good, so it was not too hard to overtake them. For me, this is a great victory, and a great job from the team and Pirelli!"
Fourth place went to the #11 GPC Giesse Ferrari 575 Maranello of Philipp Peter and Fabio Babini, with the Creation Autosportif Lister Storm fifth.
The Konrad Motorsport Saleen, minus its multiple pole-sitter Walter Lechner Jr this weekend, finished a steady race in sixth, ahead of the BMS Care Racing Ferrari, which had been a front-runner for much of the race, but fell back due to throttle problems.
Taking the final point for eighth was the #18 JMB Racing Ferrari of Bert Longin, Ian Khan and Robert Lechner.
In the N-GT class meanwhile, after the disappointment at Hockenheim, the #62 GPC Giesse Squadra Corse Ferrari 360 Modena finally took its first win, with Christian Pescatori and Fabrizio de Simone dominating the race throughout.
They crossed the line nearly 30 seconds ahead of the battling Porsche 996 GT3-RS cars of Sascha Maassen/Lucas Luhr and Stephane Ortelli/Emmanuel Collard, who enlivened the race with a thrilling nose to tail, side by side fight of the kind more usually seen in sprint races.
"It was a race without problems for us, so I'm very happy," Pescatori said afterwards. "I am happy for me, for Fabrizio, for the team, and for Pirelli. They all did a lot for this victory. This is a good circuit for Pirelli, particularly the new Pirelli tyres. I hope the situation will be similar in Donington!"
The all-Russian line-up of Alexei Vasiliev and Nikolai Fomenko took fourth place after a steady race, with Proton's Porsche fifth and Czch team Vonka Racing sixth.
JVG Racing and Slovakian team Machanek Racing took the points for seventh and eighth.
In the overall standings Gollin and Cappellari still lead the GT drivers' classification after five races, with Bobbi and Gardel joint third, nine points behind. Wendlinger is fifth, with 21 points, one ahead of today's winners Alzen and Bartels. In the teams championship, BMS Scuderia Italia has pulled out a lead of 55 points ahead of GPC Giesse and JMB Racing, both on 26. The Vitaphone Racing team is fourth.
For the next round, at Donington on June 27th, Gollin and Cappellari will stay on 100 kg, with the #1 Ferrari and the #5 Saleen both on 40 kg, and Wendlinger's Ferrari 575 M on 30 kg. The results of the race remain provisional, pending final scrutineering on the race-winning #5 Vitaphone Saleen S7.
In the N-GT drivers' standings Ortelli, Collard, Maassen and Luhr are all tied on 38 points, with de Simone and Pescatori just 6 points behind. The cars will all have a similar weight for Donington Park, as the two Freisinger Porsches will be on 50kg, and the #62 Ferrari on 40kg, making for yet another close and exciting race.
In the teams championship, Freisinger Yukos Motorsport has 54 points, 16 ahead of Freisinger Motorsport and 22 ahead of GPC Giesse, both of which only have one car. Proton Competition is lying fourth, ahead of Czech team Vonka Racing.
The next round at Donington Park, Great Britain takes place on June 27.