Four races, four different winning cars has got the 2005 FIA GT Championship off to a competitive - and completely unexpected - start, with the GLPK Corvette completing the quartet in dominant fashion at Imola.

In front of 22,000 sun-baked spectators, the three-hour race took a high toll on the field, with an unusually high attrition rate and only 14 cars classified at the end. But the survivors - as well as those who did not make it to the chequered flag - put on an intriguing show in difficult conditions, with the top six cars on the same lap just minutes from the end.

In the end, however, the day belonged to GLPK-Carsport, which became the first Belgian team to win outright when its Corvette C5-R crossed the line ahead of the mixed pack of Ferraris and Maseratis, and to GruppeM, which claimed its third one-two of the season with a fine win for Emmanuel Collard and Tim Sugden.

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For the first time in nine years of racing, grid ceremonies aside, the Belgian national anthem was heard at a FIA GT Championship round as GLPK-Carsport claimed its maiden win, and the first in the series for the Corvette C5-R. Mike Hezemans, Bert Longin and Anthony Kumpen put in a faultless performance, leading for nearly the entire three hours, except for a short time before their second pit-stop.

Hezemans started from pole, but only after a major scare for the team when, faced with a broken gearbox and considering retirement after the warm-up, the team managed to repair the car in time for the start.

"I didn't know how long it would last, so I decided to push very hard for the first laps, at least to give the spectators a good show," Hezemans explained, "But, after around 25 laps, everything was feeling good, and I was very positive."

Setting the fastest lap early on, the Dutchman handed the car over to Longin without losing the lead. The Belgian, who endured a torrid time at Silverstone, put in a great stint, resisting pressure from Thomas Biagi until he opted to let the Italian Maserati driver through.

"I knew they had to do an extra stop, so I decided to be cool out there today," Longin said.

Kumpen took over for the final stint and, when the Maserati pitted, found himself in the lead - just as Longin had surmised.

"I had quite a comfortable gap of over thirty seconds, so I just had to keep ahead," Kumpen explained, "But I was getting pretty worried, as you begin to hear all the noises and worry that there will be a problem with the car."

The Corvette crossed the finish line 19 seconds ahead of the #11 Larbre Competition Ferrari 550 Maranello of round one winners Pedro Lamy and Gabriele Gardel, with the #10 Vitaphone Maserati of Biagi and Fabio Babini third on a disappointing day for the Trident marque.

"It is a great result after two near misses," a jubilant Hezemans admitted, "It was also a great weekend for me, as I got pole position, fastest lap and the win! I am quite proud of myself today!"

Larbre continued its excellent comeback to the FIA GT Championship with second place in the race, the #11 Ferrari always towards the front. Eight points for the result put Gardel into a share of second place in the standings, on the same points as Karl Wendlinger and Andrea Bertolini, and just one behind new leaders Biagi and Babini. Larbre is also lying third in the teams' classification, having finished in the points in every race so far.

"It was too hot out there today - the last laps were very difficult," the experienced Lamy revealed, "I felt very bad after my first stint, but I was able to recover and get back in the car. We had a good set-up today, but the Corvette was just too fast for us today, so second place is good."

For the fourth race in a row, Biagi and Babini finished third, but the remarkable consistency - added to the full points they received at Silverstone when Aston Martin Racing was ineligible to score - has given the Italian pairing a slender one-point lead in the drivers' classification. Running a four-stint strategy, as did all the Maserati cars, they were involved in some close fights with the Corvette, as well as the Larbre and GPC Ferraris, before having to settle for the final step on the podium.

"It is a very good result for us," Biagi insisted, "The 80kg [success ballast] was very hard today - and we will have 100kg for Brno, but I am not worried. I won a lot of races in the Ferrari with 100kg, so I am still confident."

Vitaphone now has a fine lead in the teams' classification, with nine points separating it from JMB Racing. The #9 car, which put in an amazing performance in qualifying despite 80kg of penalty weight, started off strongly but had to retire with a gearbox problem..

Fourth place thus went to the #15 JMB Racing Maserati of Bertolini and Wendlinger, who struggled with 70kg ballast and bad oversteer, but put in a steady performance to score as many points as possible - as well as losing weight for the next round. The team's second car finished fifth, after two excellent stints from Philipp Peter at the start and mid-race.

The #3 GPC Sport Ferrari 575 M Maranello was classified sixth, having been third until very shortly before the chequered flag. In what had been its best race to date by far, the Jaime Melo/Jean-Phillipe Belloc car had a late drive-through penalty, and then ran out of fuel just three laps from the end.

The final two points went to the #8 Graham Nash Saleen of Casoni/Panzavuota/Varini, as the seventh and last GT1 car to be classified in a hard race.

Among the non-finishers, the Russian Age Racing Ferrari went out early on, having sustained a puncture following contact. The rapid Joel Camathias/Paolo Ruberti GNM Saleen lost a wheel before the start, and retired mid-race as a consequence of the damage, while the two Konrad cars also had a difficult race. The #2 GPC car, meanwhile, proved very fast early on but suffered a gearbox failure. The Lister had an engine failure, while the Ram Racing Saleen crossed the finish line but just missed out on being classified.

In GT2, Gruppe M claimed its third one-two of the season at Imola, the two white, red and blue Porsches putting in an excellent race despite the scorching conditions. However, as in qualifying, it was the #88 entry of Collard and Sugden which dominated the proceedings, the Frenchman pulling out a good lead in his first stint, which was never closed by the #66 car of Marc Lieb and Mike Rockenfeller.

The combination of the extra penalty weight carried by the Silverstone winners, and the heat - especially for Lieb, who was racing without the cool suit - meant that the usual close battle between the two leading Porsches never took place. The two cars were classified in seventh and eighth places overall, an otherwise excellent performance for GT2 cars.

Third place in the class went to newcomers Lammertink, with regular FIA GT competitor Wolfgang Kaufmann and team-mate Luca Moro - who was making his international race debut - at the wheel. Proton Competition finished fourth, with the Ebimotors Porsche fifth after a difficult race. The Vonka Racing Porsche was the sixth GT2 and final car classified - an excellent result for the small Czech team.

In the championship, GruppeM now has a massive 55-point lead over the second-placed Proton Competition. However, there is a close fight for second between Proton, Scuderia Ecosse, LNT and Ebimotors - with the first and last in the group having the advantage, as both will be racing in Brno, while the British teams have a clash with their national series.

The Balfe Motorsport Mosler took its second consecutive G2 class win, finishing ninth overall, between the two Gruppe M Porsches and the Graham Nash Saleen.

"I've never driven in such hot conditions," Jamie Derbyshire admitted afterwards, "We didn't know what to expect. Both of us, 35 minutes into our first stint, were both shot, and on the radio telling them we were not going to be capable of driving at the speeds we normally do. The team asked us to hang on, but I got out and almost collapsed.

"I had to go back to the motorhome and lie under air conditioning and cool down. Then they came to tell me that Shaun [Balfe] was in a similar condition again, so I pulled my suit back on and came back out to do the last 25 minutes. To be truthful, I'm happy to get to the end of it. The GruppeM cars will always be tough to beat, but we're happy with what we're doing so far."

The Vertigo Streiff failed to finish, stopping by the side of the track after 30 laps, having been running strongly.