14 September 2008
Brno 2008: Wendlinger, Sharp win for Jetalliance.
Having been forced to withdraw from the last round of the FIA GT Championship in Romania due to safety concerns over the team's Aston Martin DBR9, Jetalliance pair Karl Wendlinger and Ryan Sharp rebounded in style with victory at Brno.
In what was effectively a home race for the Austrian squad, the pair came home eight seconds clear of the Phoenix Carsport Corvette of Mike Hezemans and Fabrizio Gollin, while the similar car of SRT pairing Christophe Bouchut and Xavier Maassen rounded out the podium finishers.
“It's been a very good race, the car has handled very well, it was very consistent and it allowed us to push at the end of the race,” Wendlinger said. “I had things under control; I didn't have to go over the limit, just drive as fast as possible.”
Having qualified on pole position, Wendlinger pulled away at the start, but behind him a first-lap incident took out a number of cars, including the #10 Gigawave Aston Martin, the #13 RBImmo Saleen S7R, the #4 PK Carsport Saleen S7R and the GT2 pole-sitting CR Scuderia Ferrari 430. The #6 Corvette was also damaged, pitting for repairs and an early driver change. Wendlinger's team-mate Alex Müller slotted into second position, but was later deemed to have caused the start accident and was awarded a five grid place penalty for the next event in which he competes in the championship.
Wendlinger led throughout his stint, followed by Muller in the second Jetalliance car, and by Marcel Fassler in the #5 Phoenix Carsport Corvette. Just before the end of the first hour, Bouchut took over the wheel of the #3 Corvette from Xavier Maassen. As the other cars made their second stop, Bouchut stayed out, pulling out a lead of 36 seconds from Wendlinger's Aston before making the second obligatory pit stop with just two laps remaining.
Maassen emerged in second behind the #33 Aston, setting up a thrilling final charge for the line between him and the two Phoenix Racing Corvettes. On the last lap, Mike Hezemans managed to get past the SRT Corvette, but the three cars continued to fight until the chequered flag. Hezemans took second, despite the damage to his Corvette, with Maassen third and Fassler fourth. The #36 Jetalliance Aston Martin of Muller and Lichtner-Hoyer finished fifth.
Championship leaders Bertolini and Bartels finished in sixth place in the #1 Vitaphone Maserati MC 12, maintaining their lead in the points and allowing them to reduce their handicap weight for the next round in Nogaro. They finished once place ahead of their team-mates Ramos and Negrao, who had been caught up in the first-lap commotions. ACA Argentina took the final point for eighth, giving Martin Basso his first FIA GT point in the process.
In GT2, Vilander and Bruni extended their championship lead with a fourth win of the season in the nr 50 AF Corse Ferrari 430 GT2. They finished ahead of newcomer K plus K Motorsport, whose Porsche was driven by Czech driver Jiri Janak and Tim Bergmeister to a fine second place and a maiden podium. Third place went to BMS Scuderia Italia, with their #77 Ferrari 430 GT2 of Paolo Ruberti and Matteo Malucelli, strengthening their second place in the GT2 points after an excellent fight back up the field after going wide to avoid the first corner problems, rejoining at the back of the field.
“My stint was very nice, and the car went well; we've been making small adjustments all weekend and that seems to have worked,” Bruni commented. “I don't mind getting the extra weight back at Nogaro; it'll get rid of the understeer, which I hate. We'll see. Every race is a different story.”
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