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Bahrain 2005: Maiden win for Russian Age Racing

26 November 2005


After only just missing out on the win in Dubai, Russian Age Racing, running under the colours of Middle East Aston Martin, claimed their first-ever win Friday in the final round of the FIA GT championship at the Bahrain International Circuit.

The Aston Martin DBR9, driven by Christophe Bouchut and his new team-mate Antonio Garcia, put in a dominant performance, leading for most of the three-hour race and finishing ahead of the #16 JMB Maserati, and the GLPK Carsport Corvette.

Bouchut finally put his bad luck aside and after three other poles, finally converted his Bahrain one to take the win, helped admirably by his new team-mate, Antonio Garcia.

The duo put in a faultless performance, taking the lead at the start, pulling away and only briefly dropping back during the pit stops. Despite his limited time in the car, Garcia pulled away from Philipp Peter during his time on the track, and was frequently the fastest man on the track. He was therefore able to hand over to Bouchut with a healthy lead, which the Frenchman held until the end.

"It's a wonderful day for sure," Bouchut said. "Today, I would like to congratulate all my team, all the mechanics, who did a very good job, and also Antonio. Of course, thanks to Aston Martin Middle East, without whom it would have been impossible to be here. And a special thanks for Rob [Schirle - Russian Age Racing's team manager]. This result is unbelievable."

Garcia was also delighted with his win, his first in the FIA GT Championship since the 2001 Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, in the N-GT category.

"It was nice to back in a GT car. I missed this kind of racing, as they are really good cars and good races," he added. "It was a perfect weekend, it couldn't have been better, and I'd like to thank everyone involved."

Philipp Peter and Jamie Davies took a fine second place in the #16 JMB Racing Maserati MC 12, after chasing the Russian Age Racing Aston Martin for much of the three-hour eleventh round of the Championship.

Without penalty weight, and with a strong line-up, the car finished 26 seconds behind the leading Aston Martin, and over a minute ahead of the third-placed GLPK Carsport Corvette. This equalled the Austrian driver's best result of the season, having also finished second in the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, with Karl Wendlinger and Andrea Bertolini.

Third place on the track was the GLPK Carsport Corvette C5R, despite the team having struggled with the car in qualifying. They inherited their podium position in the closing stages, after first the #10 Vitaphone Maserati stopped with transmission problems, and then the #11 Larbre Competition Ferrari 550 Maranello slowed due to running low on fuel.

Originally Gabriele Gardel and Pedro Lamy were classified fourth, something that handed the GT1 title to Gardel, however the #11 Ferrari was later excluded after failing to have the regulation three litres of fuel in the car. This moved Michael Bartels and Timo Scheider up a place, provisionally giving them the GT1 drivers' championship, pending the appeal lodged by Gardel's team, Larbre Competition.

The #3 GPC Ferrari 575 M Maranello of Marco Cioci and Andrea Montermini were fifth, while Robert Lechner and Paolo Ruberti took sixth, after a consistent race, followed by the #12 Larbre car of Steve Zacchia, Raymond Narac and Roland Bervillé.

In the GT2 class, young German duo of Marc Lieb and Mike Rockenfeller claimed their sixth win of the season, finishing the race in ninth position overall. They had already clinched the 2005 GT2 drivers' championship.

"Overall, we had a great season with both cars generally finishing on the podium unless there were technical problems," Rockenfeller said.

"Thanks to the team, our engineer, the crew of the #88 car and Marc. We were pretty good together and very consistent. We were so close - sometimes too close - with Manu and Tim. We had good fights and good fun. I feel really good to go in the winter as the champion".

They were followed by the #86 GPC Sport Ferrari 360 Modena of Luca Drudi and Luca Pirri, with the #74 Ebimotors Porsche of Luigi Moccia and Paolo Rapetti in third.

The six points meant that Moccia finished third overall in the GT2 Drivers classification, behind the two GruppeM pairings of Lieb/Rockenfeller and Emmanuel Collard/Tim Sugden.

The #97 Lammertink Porsche of Wolfgang Kaufmann and Luca Moro finished fourth in the GT2 category, earning the drivers five points. However, they were far from satisfied, feeling a podium had narrowly slipped through their fingers.

Collard and Sugden, in the #88 GruppeM Porsche, were competitive early on, but a problem with the radiator gave them a long pit stop, and although the car recovered well to finish fifth, it prevented the British team claiming yet another one-two.

Dick Waaijenberg and Peter Kutemann, in the #89 JMB Ferrari, finished in sixth position, ahead of the #57 ARC Bratislava Slovakia Porsche of Miro Konopka and Stefan Rosina.

The Proton Competition Porsche, driven by Gerold Ried and Bahraini driver, Shaikh Jaber Ali Al Khalifa, finished in eighth position to take the final GT2 point.


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