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International Sports Racing Series Brno 1998

16th - 17th May 1998

Event report

Saturday - 16th May

This race returned great sportscars to Brno after 10 years. In July 1988 when the World Sports Prototype Championship 360 kilometers Sprint was held here it was the battle between Jaguar and Mercedes. This time a battle between Ferrari and Riley & Scott was expected. Similarly as 10 years ago, total 18 cars arrived and 17 entered the race...

For the second ISRS round at Brno 19 cars were originally entered but several days before the event Gaiero 1 Alfa Romeo of Scuderia Giudici was withdrawn. Four Ferraris and four Riley & Scotts dominate the entry in numbers. Just three of them were making their racing debut in the series: two BMW Team Rafanelli and Solution F of Phillipe Gache who's Riley & Scott has been already seen at Le Mans during prequalifying. Other interesting ISRS debut was going to make Target 24 entered Chevron B73 BMW.

On Friday afternoon 17 cars were present in the paddock. Only Kremer Racing car we couldn't find. Teams should have worked under provisional conditions because of pits are reconstructed now. That was also the reason for canceling GTR 4-hours race that should have been run the same weekend here at Brno.

1st free practice (9:00-10:00)

The first practice was held in Saturday morning. The Kremer Porsche, missing during Friday, was now one of the first cars we could see in the pits. This first practice showed possibilities of each driver and cars. Very soon did Lista-Ferrari fastest time in 1:52.19 and stayed for the rest of practice in the lead. Other positions in the first half belonged to Ferraris, but later best Riley & Scott set the second time - 1:52.86, moving JB Ferrari to 3rd place. First non-Ferrari, non-R&S was ex-Interserie group C Lola T92/10 Judd rebuild to spider SR1 and called now McNeil Lola 981 in 8th position before a group of CN cars led by Centenari of Pompidou/Donovan/Ballabio. Outsiders were MBR 972 driven by Shaw/Yvon and unfortunately a new car of the famous name - Chevron B73 that did only one lap and stayed on the track with some failure.

2nd free practice (11:00-12:00)

After one hour filled with touring car practice sportscars returned to the track again in the 2nd ISRS free practice. Weather wasn't good but still didn't rain. JB Ferrari of Collard/Sospiri was lap after lap faster and with 1:49.49 was the only car which ran under 1:50 during all weekend. By the way the lap record in practice still keeps Baldi/Schlesser in Sauber-Mercedes C9/88 from 1988 and it is 1:46.44. Here is to say that this year was one curve modified and track was lengthened about 9 meters. Current SR1 cars are a bit slower than group C cars 10 years ago, but perhaps next year they would be able to beat the record. Second and the third was also Ferrari (Lista and GTC) followed by three Riley & Scotts. The fourth R&S of Stuck/Soper didn't practice. In this session two cars were crashed. First was works Osella rolling slowly into the pit with damaged bodywork. Worse it was with Chevron B79 which driver went in a full speed into barriers and damaged front suspension and chassis. Setting time 2:25.53 was even slower than in his one lap from the 1st practice (1:22.26). This was the end of Chevron story at Brno... MBR set its fastest time of the weekend (2:12.14). After that they had only problems. All other cars were running faster than 2:02. This practice was interrupted after 45 minutes because of Kremer K8 stayed after spin partly on the track and it was dangerous.

Qualifying session (14:30-15:30)

After a lunch break and practice of historic and touring cars was the official practice called "Practice to Qualify Drivers". Now without Chevron and Osella, 16 cars were trying to set the fastest time. But the weather was worse and worse and after half-hour started to rain. Before this Collard and Sospiri improved their time (1:48.95) followed by Stuck/Soper (1:51.56) and Graf/Bellm (1:52.96). Most of cars were slower than in free practice because of the rain. But top 13 cars were able to run under 2 minutes. Best CN was Centenari MAC3-02 of Pompidou/Donovan/Ballabio at 1:56.92.

Shoot out (16:45-17:15)

Top ten cars from qualify were to run Pole Position Shoot Out. Each team chose one of their drivers to run four lap and the best was counted for this "mini-race" of the FINA First Trophy and for the final starting grid. Two cars didn't run this shoot out, Solution F R&S because of problems with brakes and the second semi-works BMW Team Rafanelli of de Radigues/Auberlen with broken gearbox. This session helped especially to Horag Lista Team which was only 7th in qualify after having problem with shocks. Now they were second just behind JB Ferrari. Excellent time did Pompido with CN Centenari - 1:55.38 while his even better 1:55.33 in the fourth lap wasn't counted. Brno never before saw so quick CN car!

Sunday - 17th May

Warm Up (9:30-10:00)

Damaged Osella was already repaired after crash from free practice, so all-17 cars entered Sunday morning warm up at 9:30. The track was still wet after morning rain, so achieved times were about 20 seconds worse than in practice. The quickest was again No.5 Ferrari (Collard/Sospiri) running 2:09.30 followed by Solution F R&S which was more that 2 seconds slower. Stuck and Soper were 8th completing only 3 laps and Ferrari of Lienhard/Theys after 2 laps only 15th. MBR running with problem through the pit was still the slower car of the field and stayed at 6:41.73. In SR2/CN class was now best works Osella 11th overall with 2:26.86.

The Race (13:00-15:30)

On Sunday afternoon 15 cars went to the grid. Solution F Riley & Scott had some problems so stayed at their mechanics and started from the pits.

It was very exciting to see the start of those beautiful and powerful cars: In front there were Ferraris while R&S had problems. No.3 Rafanelli smoked just had started and retired in the first lap, Gache started from the pits and No.4 Rafanelli with slicks on wet track was slower in first laps than CN cars. So the only R&S running in the front of the field was Target 24 Caffi/Chiesa which was 4th behind leading JB, GTC and Horag Ferraris, followed by McNeil Lola driven by Stirling, Calderari Ferrari and Kremer K8 of Agusta/Coppeli keeping now its best position in the race. Track was wet and that was an advantage for SR1 cars. Why? Who knows, but even SCI-Spice in 8th place was quicker than all CN field. And after the track was drier as it doesn't rain during the race, CN cars started overtaking slower SR1.

During 2nd lap works Osella driver had some problems, went off the track and lost two laps to return to the track. After several laps he stopped in the pits to repair his car and after that was running 4 laps behind Collard in the leading Ferrari. Collard was at this part of the race about 4-5 seconds quicker than all other competitors.

But Osella wasn't last. The last was MBR, which had all time problems with overheating. It had started from the pits like Gache but about 10 minutes after the start. It ran only 6 slow laps and after that retired.

And how the situation looked at the top? Collard was still leading, Lienhard overtook GTC Ferrari in 9th lap and ran second while Gache in Solution Riley & Scott was running very quickly and was fourth after 10 laps. After 12 laps he was even third. After that he had the first pitstop in lap 15. After the first series of pitstops (after 26 laps) Collard/Sospiri Ferrari was in the lead and only Gache/Beltoise R&S was in the same lap. Surprisingly, the 3rd place overall belonged to Tampolli of Mancini/Riccitelli. Before the second series of pitstops JB Ferrari was the only car in the lead lap followed by all three R&S - Gache/Beltoise, De Radigues/Auberlen and Caffi/Chiesa. The fifth was CN leader Tampolli and behind it were other Ferraris. All 15 cars were still running, Osella was the last but very quick, shorting the delay after unsuccessful start.

Collard/Sospiri became the winner after 2 and half-hour race leading all 73 laps from start to finish. The second position belonged from lap 47 to Rafanelli R&S driven by de Radigues/Auberlen. Usually third running Gache/Beltoise was two laps to go overtaken by Graf/Bellm GTC-Lanzante Ferrari and finished fourth. Winner of CN class were after excellent drive Mancini/Riccitelli in works Tampolli just two laps before Centenari of Pompidou/Donovan/Ballabio.

Two of SR1 cars had problems before the end. Earlier Kremer Porsche, the only turbocharged car in the field, went slowly to the pits and return in the last position. Worse it was with McNeil Lola of Stirling/Hodgetts which was in the pits 8 laps. So Osella could overtake three cars (also SCI-Spice) but all were SR1 so finished last in its class and 12th overall.