6 October 2003
575 takes debut win as Biagi/Bobbi sew up titles.
For the first time ever, the FIA GT Championship has had a bright and sunny race weekend in Estoril, and an exciting, close race took place around the 4.183 km circuit.
A Ferrari-dominated weekend saw JMB Racing win in both categories, giving the new Ferrari 575 M Maranello a win in its debut race, while third place gave BMS Scuderia Italia drivers Matteo Bobbi and Thomas Biagi the GT Drivers title in their first season of GT racing.
Andrea Bertolini and Fabrizio De Simone's third win wrote another chapter in the extremely close N-GT category, meaning that the three-way fight between Freisinger, JMB and Team Maranello Concessionaires goes on to the final round in Monza.
After an extremely difficult season, when their Ferrari 550 Maranello cars proved to be fast but unreliable, JMB Racing have put their bad luck behind them with a fine win for the brand new nr 9 Ferrari 575 M Maranello of Philipp Peter and Fabio Babini. With the car winning on its first time out, it was a great relief for the whole team.
"We are all very emotional today - all the team was crying," Peter said. "Even in our most positive moments we did not believe we could do this. I would like to really thank Pirelli, who changed the compound in the race."
His teammate Fabio Babini, who last won at Silverstone last year in a Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper GTS-R, was also delighted. "I really like this track; I pushed hard in the last stint, and I am very pleased for JMB Racing, Pirelli and N-technology."
BMS Scuderia Italia duo Luca Capellari and Fabrizio Gollin finished second after a spirited fight, crossing the line just 16 seconds behind the victorious duo after 106 laps of the hot Estoril track.
Third place in Estoril was enough to secure the 2003 GT Drivers' Championship for Matteo Bobbi and Thomas Biagi, following an amazing debut season in GT racing. The two young Italians, both single-seater drivers, have led from the start of the season, winning five races in a row, and a sixth (appeal pending) in Oschersleben. The two were both delighted with the title and relieved that the pressure was now off them before the final race in Monza.
"I lost the title last year by one point in the final race, and I did not want to go through that again," Bobbi explained.
As for Biagi, he dedicated his title to his best friend, Alfredo Melandri, killed in 1998 in Formula Three testing. "When he died, I had two choices – to stop races or to go ahead. I decided he would want me to race on, and so I want to dedicate this title to him."
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