Pedro Lamy and Gabriele Gardel helped Larbre Competition maintain its unbeaten FIA GT record at Brno, adding a second win of the season to their own personal tallies after an eventful race at the Czech circuit.
As always, the picturesque Automotodrom, complete with its dramatic scenery and rollercoaster layout, provided an exciting event, made all the more unpredictable by some traditional Brno weather. A heavy shower drenched the track mid-race, with warm dry weather book-ending the three-hour event to keep the teams on their toes.
One team that has always seemed to keep on top of happenings at Brno is Larbre Competition, and Sunday was no different as the French team came out on top of a race that could have any one of a number of ways.
Larbre has won every race it has contested at the Czech circuit, but Lamy and Gardel had to work for 2005 honours against a well-matched field, the Swiss privateer being propelled to the head of an ever-changing points board as his reward. A varied podium saw the JMB Racing Maserati of Karl Wendlinger and Andrea Bertolini take second, after a spirited race from the back of the grid, while GPC Sport claimed its first podium finish of the year with the Ferrari 575 of Jaime Melo and Jean-Philippe Belloc.
The podium result was influenced to a small degree by a first lap casualty list that included several potential frontrunners. While Philipp Peter led away in the second of the JMB Maseratis, the Imola-winning Corvette spun, sending the #10 Vitaphone Maserati of Fabio Babini and Thomas Biagi spinning in avoidance. The black-and-aqua car duly collecting the #13 Lamborghini and #2 GPC Ferrari, ruling all three out of any further participation. The Corvette, meanwhile, rejoined, and would go on to run a relatively uneventful race to finish fourth.
Peter's early pace eventually took its toll on the JMB MC12's tyres and, as the Austrian slipped back into the clutches of the chasing pack, it was Christophe Bouchut, in the #17 Russian Age Ferrari, who was again rewarded for an early charge by taking over at the front after picking off the cars starting in front of him.
The Frenchman continued to pull away, as the #9 Vitaphone car of Michael Bartels and Timo Scheider moved into second, but was eventually deprived of his advantage as the rain started on lap 23. With the slower Alexey Vasiliev taking over behind the wheel of the Cirtek run Ferrari, the battle for the lead changed to one between Bartels and Gardel, with the Swiss driver eventually coming out on top.
As the various tyre changes continued, Gardel found himself being followed, if not troubled, by the Russian Age car, with the #3 GPC 575 joining in to make it a Ferrari 1-2-3. Maserati wasn't done, however and, on lap 43, with the track drying out again, Wendlinger overtook Belloc for third. Bartels hopes of at least a podium disappeared when the Vitaphone car lost time in the pits with a problematic air-jack. Despite team-mate Scheider subsequently setting the fastest lap of the race once he was back out on slicks, the car could do no better than finish fifth.
Lamy took over from Gardel for the final stint, keeping the lead built up by his privateer co-driver in the wet, and holding a comfortable 58-second gap back to the now second-placed JMB Maserati to the line. With the Russian Age car dropping back with its less rapid Russian pilots at the wheel, Bertolini inherited second place, with Melo also moving the GPC Ferrari up to complete the podium.