A close, hot and exciting FIA-GT race in Brno today [Sunday], in front of packed grandstands, saw Matteo Bobbi and Thomas Biagi give BMS Scuderia Italia its fourth win of the season, in the number 23 Ferrari 550 Maranello.

Despite 100 kg penalty weight, and although they were not the fastest car on the track, a problem-free race and two excellent pit stops saw the two young Italians emerge victorious for the fourth race in succession.

They now lead the Drivers Classification with 40 points, a 17-point lead over Andrea Piccini and Jean-Denis Deletraz, in second. Their win, added to the third-place finish for Fabrizio Gollin and Luca Cappellari in the number 22 car, means that BMS Scuderia Italia currently has a 23-point lead in the Teams points.

Related Articles

''The team did a great job today, with excellent pit stops,'' said Biagi afterwards, ''I think my career experience helped me a lot today, as I saw the oil and shifted down, and I was able to stay on the track. We had excellent tyres from Michelin today, which were very consistent. We took care of the car, as it was not easy with 100 kg. We were not fast over a single lap, but we were very consistent. We are leading the Championship, but I am looking at this race by race, as there is still a long way to go and many races, especially the 24 Hours of Spa. But this is a nice moment, and I am enjoying it, as tomorrow I will start working hard again for the next race.''

He crossed the finish line, after 87 laps of the 5.403 km Brno circuit, with a lead of 31.056 over Deletraz and Piccini, in the number 15 Lister.

''I am happy with the race result - we couldn't have done better,'' noted Piccini, ''But now we know what's wrong with the engine, and it should be good for Donington. The top speed was our only problem, the car and set-up were good, and we were very happy with the tyres. This meant I could push throughout the stint. It was a great finish, very close and exciting. Donington is a Lister circuit, and we are currently second in the Championship, so it should be good!''

At the start the number 2 Saleen S7-R, in the hands of pole-setter Jean-Marc Gounon, set a commanding pace, pulling away from the number 14 Lister Storm in a way that Jamie Campbell-Walter described as 'like a rocket'.

The Frenchman set the fastest lap of the race on the second lap, and continued to pull away, ending his stint with a lead of over 15 seconds.

Gounon handed over to Toni Seiler, but an excellent pit-stop from the number 23 BMS Ferrari, which had been lying third, took it into the lead. On lap 45, Nathan Kinch, in the number 14 Lister, overtook the Saleen for second place. However, shortly afterwards, the young Lister driver spun on some oil on the track, dropping back down the grid. With the number 2 Konrad Saleen also suffering problems, this left the number 23 BMS car with a large gap.

The number 15 Lister Storm moved up to second, followed by the number 22 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello. Campbell-Walter got back in the number 14 Lister, and began to charge up the field, as the fastest man on the track. With 40 minutes of the race left, he was 22 seconds behind Gollin. He closed to within 4 seconds, but dropped back on the final lap, realising he was unable to move up to third.

At the same time, a colossal battle was going on between Piccini and Gollin for second, with the gap between the two rarely more than two seconds for the whole of the final stint.

''It was a very exciting end to the race, just like last year,'' said Gollin, ''And just like last year, I finished in third position. But I am happy with the result, and we were lucky because the Lister was very fast here. I worked a lot this weekend for the rest of the season. We tried a lot of things to make the car faster for the future, because we know that the competition is also very fast.''

Bobbi finally took the chequered flag ahead of Piccini in the number 15 Lister, with Gollin third. Campbell-Walter, in the number 14 Lister, took fourth, with the number 21 Care Racing Ferrari in fifth.

''We had a very good car today, but unfortunately Nathan had a spin,'' said Campbell-Walter, ''It was a shame, but that's racing. We have to put it down to inexperience. He then did a fantastic job to recover. It's all part of the learning process. Without that spin, I am sure we would have been able to challenge for the win, as everything was fantastic. The end of the race was really close; I backed off on the last lap as I knew I could not catch Gollin. We know we can definitely win races, things have not gone our way so far, but Spa and Donington could be much better - and at least we scored points.''

The Creation Autosportif Lister Storm continued its consistent point-scoring record with sixth place for Verdon-Roe and Zadra. This mean that the top six places included three Ferrari 550 Maranello cars and three Lister Storms.

The Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7-R cars finished in seventh and eighth places, but the number 7 car of Erdos and Newton was later excluded due to a fuel-tank problem. This elevated the number 8 car to seventh, and the number 11 Roos-Optima Chrysler Viper GTS-R took the final point for eighth.

In N-GT category, having been consistently fast this season, the reigning N-GT Team Champion, Freisinger Motorsport, finally finished on the top of the podium, with St?phane Ortelli and Marc Lieb repeating their 2002 Brno win in fine fashion, finishing the race in ninth position overall, 15 seconds ahead of the JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena of Andrea Bertolini and Fabrizio de Simone.

''We are very happy with this win - we have proved that we are competitive, and when we can get to the end, we can win,'' said team manager, Michel Hinterberg, ''It is very close this year, especially with the new points system, which makes it very hard to catch up when you fail to finish. But we are optimistic! We had a very tough race at Brno last year, when we also won, and this year was easier. We hope we will be in good shape for the UK. There is an excellent spirit between Ortelli and Lieb. But I think the key point of this season will be Spa.''

Ortelli added: ''We really pushed hard all weekend; we had to, as our fuel consumption is not as good as last year. I made a safe start, and lost two places, but it was not too long until I was back in the front, and managed to pull out a good gap for Marc. He did an excellent job during his stint, and he has really improved since we won together here in Brno last year.''

The number 88 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 360 Modena of Jamie Davies and Tim Mullen finished third, with the Pergusa-winning EMKA Racing Porsche in fourth place.

''We had big problems during free practice and qualifying, so this is a very good result for the Championship,'' said Mullen, ''The circuit was quite similar to Barcelona in the way that the car handled, and we had no grip. We have a lot of work to do, but now we have the time to do it before the next race in Donington.''

The N-GT points situation is very close, with de Simone and Bertolini leading the Drivers by three points over Mullen and Davies, with Ortelli and Lieb third on 18 points. In the Teams Classification, Team Maranello Concessionaires have a one-point lead over JMB Racing, with Freisinger only seven points behind the leader.

Bertolini, in the number 52 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena, made the best start, taking the lead ahead of pole-setter Ortelli in the Freisinger Porsche. However, by lap 6, Ortelli regained the lead, after an excellent, clean battle between the two drivers. Bertolini, suffering from tyre problems, dropped back, with the number 61 EMKA Porsche and the two Team Maranello Concessionaires cars moving up behind the leading Freisinger Porsche.

After the pit stops, the number 52 began to recover, and de Simone brought the car back up to second place. The number 89 Ferrari had a long pit stop and dropped out of contention, leaving the number 88 in third place ahead of the EMKA Porsche. Although local hero Tomas Enge was setting some fast laps when he took over from Robert Pergl, he was not able to move higher than fifth.

''I am very happy to see the chequered flag again after two non-finishes,'' said Enge, ''We had some oversteer today, but apart from that the car was fine. I pushed quite hard, but although we had tried for a one-stop strategy, the situation was quite marginal, so we decided to do a splash-and-dash and play it safe. I have to thank our many fans for their support today. It's our best result so far, so it's very good for the team on home ground, considering the pressure. We'll carry on working hard and see what happens next race.''

After the three hours of racing, Ortelli crossed the line with a lead of 15 seconds over the number 52 JMB Racing Ferrari, with the number 88 TMC Ferrari third.

Bertolini, who drove the number 52 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena to second with de Simone, commented: ''This race was good for the Championship. My first stint was very good, and I had a very clean fight with Stephane. However, I had a problem with the first set of tyres, but it was fine after we changed. Fabrizio had a good stint, and then my final stint was very quick. With the new points, it is very important to score at each race. The N-GT category is very, very close, and I think Spa is going to be extremely interesting.''

Tim Sugden and Martin Short took a fine fourth in the number 61 EMKA Porsche. The second Freisinger Porsche of Gabriele Gardel and Bert Longin was sixth, while Team Eurotech placed its two Porsche 996 GT3-RS cars in seventh and eighth. Gerold and Christian Ried, in their first race in the new Proton Competition Porsche 996 GT3-RS, finished just outside the points in ninth place.

The next race is at Donington Park, Great Britain on June 29.