18 April 2004
Valencia 2004: Gollin and Cappellari double up.
A close and interesting race around the tight and technical Valencia circuit saw BMS Scuderia Italia claim its second one-two of the season, with Fabrizio Gollin and Luca Cappellari extending their championship lead with their third consecutive win.
The Italian duo backed up their back-to-back wins at flat-out Monza in 2003-04 by proving that the ultra-reliable Ferrari 550 Maranello was also more than a match for its rivals on the twisty Ricardo Tormo circuit. Team-mates Matteo Bobbi and Gabriele Gardel were again best of the rest in second, while Reiter Engineering gave the new Lamborghini racer an unexpected first international podium, as the Murciélago R-GT finished a fine third with Peter Kox and Oliver Gavin.
In N-GT, Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr were imperious, leading throughout to win for Freisinger Motorsport. GPC Giesse duo Christian Pescatori and Fabrizio de Simone finished second in class, as they had at Monza, and now join third-placed finishers Emmanuel Collard and Stephane Ortelli at the head of the N-GT drivers' standings.
Gollin and Cappellari only moved into the lead of the race after the second set of pit-stops, having opted to change only two tyres on their 550. The duo completed 112 laps in the maximum time of three hours, meaning a total distance of 448.56km. The two Italians now have a four-point lead over their nearest rivals.
"During the last pit-stop, we only changed two of the tyres as, after the first stint, our tyres were still good enough," Gollin said with a broad smile on his face, "This year, we've had two wins in the first two races, so we can't complain - the championship is looking good so far."
Team-mate Cappellari was a little more circumspect in his assessment of the race, noting that they had needed an outside influence to spring them into top spot.
"We were somewhat lucky today, but luck is always important in motor racing," he admitted.
Cappellari and Gollin were followed home by BMS team-mates Matteo Bobbi and Gabriele Gardel, but the reigning champion and his new co-driver finished a rather distant 23.8secs behind, having earlier raced bumper-to-bumper with the two Italians.
"Maybe this is not my year," Bobbi sighed, "The first stint was really good - we know that the car's always a bit slippery on new tyres, so we were careful during the first couple of laps - but then something went wrong during Gabriele's pit-stop. The engine wouldn't start when I pushed the button, and we lost quite a lot of time."
Scoring full marks for the second race in a row, reigning champions BMS Scuderia Italia now have 36 points in the teams' championship - a 25-point lead over GPC Giesse Squadra Corse, whose GT class entries failed to finish in Spain.
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