27 July 2003
Freisinger breaks Ferrari deadlock.
After an action-packed, rain-soaked and thrilling race, Freisinger Motorsport claimed an historic result by becoming the first N-GT team to taking the chequered flag in both the 2003 Proximus 24 Hours of Spa and any other FIA GT Championship result.
The Porsche 996 GT3-RS piloted by Stephane Ortelli, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas - who won their class in 2002 - completed 479 laps of the circuit in the 24 hour time limit, finishing eight laps ahead of the #22 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello, with another N-GT machine - the #72 Seikel Motorsport Porsche - in third.
''It is going to be difficult to talk about anything right now,'' Ortelli admitted after the race, ''The race started very, very well for us because we were not fighting with the other N-GT cars. They were much quicker in the dry, but I was just quicker in the rain, so I tried to stay in control of the situation. We were second when the rain came but, at that time, I came back to the pit and Marc took the car.
''The Porsche was just unbelievably good in the rain and the Dunlop tyres were fantastic too. They compromised for the fact that we have less horsepower than the
big cars. Without the rain, though, I do not think we could have won.''
In the championship classification, the result means that Freisinger now has a healthy lead in both N-GT team and drivers' title races, while BMS has taken an almost unassailable lead in the GT teams' classification with four rounds remaining, the #23 entry having won the previous five races leading in to Spa.
In the GT category, the BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari was followed home by the #1 Larbre Competition Chrysler Viper GTS-R - winner for the past two years - driven by Christophe Bouchut, Vincent Vosse, Patrick Huisman and Sébastien Dumez, with the #24 Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper GTS-R of Paul Belmondo, Emmanuel Clérico, Yann Clairay and Pierre-Yves Corthals third.
The #57 MENX Ferrari 360 Modena of Robert Pergl, Yannick Schroeder and Jaroslav Janis claimed third in N-GT behind the Seikel crew of Gabrio Rosa, Luca Drudi, Alex Caffi and Andrea Chiesa, and finished sixth overall.
''We are really delighted because we are newcomers to N-GT and we have never raced in a 24-hour event,'' MENX team leader Robert Pergl bubbled, ''We have never tested at Spa either so, taking into account all these facts, it is an amazing success. We really enjoyed it and found it so funny to be passing the big cars. We only had minor problems with the car and I would like to thank Ferrari for supplying us with a car which was so reliable.''
After 18 hours of almost total damp, the 19th dawned with brightening skies - although there wasn't much to be cheerful about for the #15 Lister Storm, which lost significant amounts of time when it came in with a broken wheel hub. Although the part was changed, the car rejoined down in seventh position overall, albeit still third
in GT. With additional pit stops over the next hour, the car dropped to twelfth, however.
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