FIA GT » 12 May 2003
Ferrari wins again after exclusion at Enna.
The third round of the FIA GT Championship, watched by approximately 40,000 spectators gathered around the Pergusa circuit in Sicily, saw Fabrizio Gollin and Luca Cappellari cross the line first in the GT category at the wheel of their BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello - only to be excluded at scrutineering.
The Italian duo ran strongly in the top three throughout, taking the lead when their team-mates lost time in the pits and going on to finish ahead of the #23 Ferrari 550 Maranello of Thomas Biagi and Matteo Bobbi - the winner of the opening two rounds - with the Lister Storm of Jamie Campbell-Walter and Nathan Kinch third. However, a faulty airbox caused the car to be excluded after scrutineering, promoting Biagi and Bobbi to their third successive win. The BMS team has appealed against the disqualification, and the results therefore remain provisional.
In the N-GT class, a thrilling end to the race saw British duo Tim Sugden and Martin Short take their first win in the FIA GT Championship, driving the EMKA Racing Porsche 996 GT3-RS home ahead of a closely matched field. Sugden only took the lead on the last lap when Fabrizio de Simone, in the #52 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena, spun after a frantic last-minute battle between the two cars. Twin brothers David and Godfrey Jones took third place in their Eurotech Porsche 996 GT3-RS, competing a good day for the Brits.
''We had a pretty bad start to the season, but today everything went well,'' David Jones grinned, ''My stint went quickly and I had to come in early, so Godfrey had to do a longer stint. I don't know if we are the first twins to be on the podium of an FIA Championship, but I would think we must be the first 50-year olds!''
''With the three-hour races, this is very different from the one-hour British races,'' his brother confirmed of their graduation to the international scene, ''The car was perfect today, but we'll have to take the rest of the season one race at a time - it is all very new to us.''
Jean-Marc Gounon started from pole in the Konrad Saleen S7-R and ran strongly throughout his stint, easily keeping the lead of the race.
He was followed by the #22 BMS Ferrari of Cappellari and Gollin, but the #5 Force One Chrysler Viper, so fast all weekend, suffered early damage after blowing a tyre and retired, bringing the #14 Lister up to third place.
When Gounon handed the Konrad over to Toni Seiler, the car dropped back, while the three BMS-run Ferrari 550 Maranello cars came to the fore. By lap 43, Bobbi was leading from Cappellari, with Seiler third and the #21 Care Racing car fourth. On lap 68, however, the Saleen retired due to a broken gearbox, leaving the three Ferrari 550 Maranello cars in their almost customary positions ahead of three Lister Storms.
''I am very disappointed, as the car was unbelievable today,'' Gounon sighed, ''I was keeping the lead easily, barely touching the kerbs at all. But, in the end, we had similar gearbox problems to those we had at Magny-Cours. It's a great shame.''
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