14 July 2002
Ferrari finds favour in photo-finish.
A fascinating photo-finish end to the sixth round saw Andrea Piccini and Jean-Denis Deletraz take their third consecutive FIA GT Championship win, and gain the lead in the drivers' classification in Oschersleben.
Their BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello crossed the line just a second ahead of the charging Lister Storm of Jamie Campbell-Walter and Nicolaus Springer, who helped Lister Storm Racing retake the teams' points lead. The Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper GTS-R of Marc Duez and Fabio Babini finished third.
An extremely close N-GT race was finally won by the Autorlando Porsche of Philipp Peter and Toto Wolff, overhauling the RWS Motorsport Porsche of Antonio Garcia and Horst Felbermayr Jr. Andrea Garbagnati and Andrea Bertolini were third in their JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena, further increasing their team's points lead.
Piccini and Deletraz had signalled their intent by setting fastest time in the warm-up session, but were hounded throughout by the Viper pairings of Mike Hezemans/Anthony Kumpen and Fabio Babini/Marc Duez. Garcia was the fastest of the N-GT runners in the #76 RWS Porsche 996 GT3-R, the Spaniard taking the position from Philipp Peter and Toto Wolff in the #58 Autorlando car that would be its biggest threat in the race.
Piccini dropped from second position on the grid to fifth at the start, but made up places to run second at the first round of pit-stops. Deletraz stepped aboard and took the lead from Springer in the second hour. However, the #12 Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper of Babini and Duez was always in close attendance, and it took the lead at the final round of stops, when the team elected not to change tyres.
''At the start, I thought that one of the cars passed before the green light,'' Piccini claimed, ''I couldn't close the door so dropped to fifth. It was very difficult for me to pass the Carsport cars, because they were very fast in a straight line. I don't think that Gollin saw me and I hit him, and I am sorry about that. I didn't hit him deliberately - I was all over the grass, but we touched.''
The last hour provided one of the races of the season, with the top three battling hard, but it was Piccini who controlled the race from the front, allowing Campbell-Walter to close at the flag, despite coping with worn front-tyres.
''I started to push to catch the Lister, but there was always traffic,'' Piccini continued, ''We lost time in the pit-stop with the refuelling but, when I took the car over, I was only five seconds behind. I had to close the gap which, was hard because the front tyres were gone. It was a hard race.''
The Lister pair had to settle for second position, after team tactics played another major part in the result. Springer took the car for the second hour of the race with fresh Dunlop tyres for the first time this season, and was able to lap competitively throughout. The team made up further time when it changed just the left-side tyres at the final stop for Campbell-Walter, but it was just not enough.
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