The only possible way to describe the fifth round of the FIA GT Championship at Donington Park at the weekend is 'action packed'.
With temperatures high and the sun shining, the cars and drivers gave the 20,000 spectators lining the British circuit a thrilling show, with a breathtaking three-hour sequence of changes of lead, nose-to-tail battles, daring overtaking manoeuvres and assorted racing incidents.
Although both Force One Chrysler Viper GTS-R cars and the number 14 Lister Storm led the race, and the Konrad Saleen and other Lister Storms looked strong, an assortment of mechanical problems and racing incidents meant that the race result was identical to Brno, with BMS Scuderia Italia and Freisinger Motorsport finishing on top of the podium.
Further to the technical scrutineering, the number 18 Zwaan's Racing Chrysler Viper, originally classified second, was excluded from the results by a decision from the Stewards of the Meeting. Therefore the results of the race remain provisional, pending the appeal by Zwaan's Racing to the exclusion, and engine checks on both the winning number 23 Ferrari and the number 18 Chrysler Viper GTS-R.
For Matteo Bobbi and Thomas Biagi it was their fifth win, in only their first season of GT racing and as such they continue to dominate the FIA GT Championship, with their seemingly invulnerable Ferrari 550 Maranello. Despite 100 kg penalty weight, and the undoubted speed of the Lister Storm and Saleen S7-R cars, Bobbi and Biagi put in a fine performance to take the win.
''The first stint was very good,'' said Bobbi, ''I had a big fight with the two Vipers at the start; I touched Alliot at the first hairpin and a lap later he pushed me out. I went down to sixth place, and tried to catch Gollin. I pushed very hard and passed four cars, but I could not pass the Lister, as he was very fast. Then Thomas took over and did a very good job. I took the car back over in first position, and it was quite easy to finish the race in that same position. I am very happy because this is a Lister track. We had a little problem with oil towards the end, but it was not a big issue.''
With a perfect score of 50 points, Bobbi and Biagi now have a massive lead of 26 points over their nearest rivals, Care Racing drivers Lilian Bryner, Enzo Calderari and Stefano Livio. Their team, BMS Scuderia Italia, is well ahead of its nearest rivals in the Teams Classification, with Lister Racing trailing by 34 points.
''Today we had a very good set-up but in the first stint we had a big problem with the fuel pump,'' noted Livio, ''It was better after the first pit stop, but we continued to have the same problem throughout the race. I am therefore very happy to have third place considering the problems we had.''
In the N-GT class, just like in 2002, Stéphane Ortelli's fortunes appear to have changed in the Czech Republic. Last year, his Brno win heralded a series of victories that took him to the N-GT Drivers title, and after winning at the Czech track last month, the driver from Monaco continued the sequence with a win in Great Britain.