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GT3: Lester, Simonsen secure first GT3 victory.

Allan Simonsen and Hector Lester secured their place in the record books with victory in the opening race of the new FIA GT3 European Championship at Silverstone.

The JMB Racing duo overcame a spin on the opening lap to storm back through the field as conditions improved to secure a dramatic victory after the drying track worked against the Dodge Vipers that had looked strongest during the opening stages.

At the start, Max Mugelli led the field away in the BMS Scuderia Italia Aston Martin DBRS9, with Lester second and Dimitris Deverikos holding third for Tech 9. However mid-way round the opening lap, the Greek driver would spin with Lester and while the Porsche would recover to stay inside the top ten, Lester was left much further down the order - leaving work to do for the rest of the race...

The duo spinning in front of the field allowed Mugelli to scamper away and open up a slender lead with paraplegic racer Gilles Duqueine giving chase in the Pouchelon Racing Dodge Viper and Stefano Zonca and Andrea Ceccato in the similar machines of Racing Box in third and fourth.

However three cars expected to challenge but nowhere to be seen where the three Ascari KZ1Rs of Damax which had shown an impressive turn of pace during the weekend but were trailing round at the back well off the pace having started from the pitlane - a gamble on slick tyres not looking too clever during the opening laps of the race.

With the Viper having been viewed as the car to beat, Duqueine was soon closing in on the DBRS9 ahead and on lap three he moved the blue and silver car into the lead -Zonca and Ceccato both following him through within a matter of laps to make it a 1-2-3 for Dodge.

Behind them, Mugelli was left in fourth but he was being rapidly hauled in by a recovering Deverikos who posted the fastest lap of the race on his way past the DBRS9 into fourth on lap eight.

The Vipers continued to lead as the driver changes approached but as the track dried out, so Pouchelon and Racing Box saw their chances of victory start to disappear - with the American cars handicapped when it came to a tyre change by the fact they lacked the all important five point wheel nuts. As a result, any tyre change would take much, much longer than their rivals.

When Duqueiene pitted from the lead, Pouchelon were able to make an impressive stop to help the Frenchman from the car and get Reid installed to see the former BTCC racer emerge in second although he soon forced his way past the Viper of Marco Cioci to take the lead. However, while the two Dodge's led the way, Sean Edwards and Simonsen - having taken over from Deverikos and Lester - were closing in after switching to dry tyres on the stops.



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The winners celebrate

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