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FIA GT Championship Brno 2000

17th-18th September 2000

Event report

Friday - 15th September

The ninth and penultimate round of 2000 FIA GT Championship took place at Automotodrom Brno. It was the first time FIA GT race was run in Czech Republic. The situation in point standing became very interesting during last few races. In GT drivers championship the Lister Storm Racing men Bailey and Campbell-Walter were after excellent start of the season still leading but only by 8.5 points from their best opponent Mike Hezemans from Carsport Team Holland. Also both lead drivers of Paul Belmondo Racing Derichebourg and Vosse had still a good chance to take the championship.

In the team standings the situation was even more interesting. After Lister retirements at A1-Ring, the Paul Belmondo team had taken the lead in the championship and led by 4 points before the Brno race. The third was Carsport Holland, which was 19.5 points back. That gave this team still theoretical chance to take the title but only when they would win both last two races and non of Belmondo's car or Lister would finish in top 6. That was very unlikely so Hezemans' team had to concentrate on driver's championship and keep the third teams position because Freisinger's two-car team was after a great victory at Lausitzring only by 4.5 point behind the Dutch team. It is worth to say that all leading teams had two cars entry during the season with only Carsport Holland having a single car. As results of best two cars of each team is counted to the championship, it is not surprising that Carsport Holland team, which had won two races this season and is battling for drivers title had much less chance in team championship.

Scrutineering (8:00-13:00)

Brno race with 28 cars in provisional entry and only 24 present at the meeting itself became the worst supported race of the season. Leading entrants such as Lister Storm Racing, Paul Belmondo Racing, Carsport Holland or Freisinger Motorsport were present. However all other entrants that had scored any points this year, with one exception of Wieth Racing closing the team table with one point from A1-Ring, were absent. Among the missing teams we can name Konrad Motorsport who prefer to race a Lola at very well supported Nürburgring SRWC race, Chamberlain Engineering which starts became very sporadically during this season and Marcos Racing International that after failed scrutineering in the last race at Lausitzring decided not to enter.

The N-GT class was once again a Porsche monopoly after no of Ferrari 360 Modena was entered. Many of regulars were present here at Brno but EMKA and MAC Racing cars stayed at home.

The positive side of the entry was a presence of two Lamborghinis and the First Racing Ferrari 550 that is still waiting for the first finish this year.

Pre-race Press Conference (11:00-11:30)

An exceptional press conference with some of FIA GT leading drivers was held prior to the event. Julian Bailey, Paul Belmondo and Mike Hezemans were speaking about their chances in Sunday race and also about their past. One of FIA GT Championship organisers Jürgen Barth was also present. He said that more entrants should join the championship next year and also that full live coverage on Eurosport is promised for the new season. We will see...

1st free practice session (13:30-15:00)

In the opening free practice session Julian Bailey set the best time at 2:02.043 and beat its team-mate Philippe Favre by 0.228 seconds. All four present Chrysler Vipers followed with the best of them being Vosse/Derichebourg from Paul Belmondo Racing. Relatively good performance showed First Racing Ferrari with 2:05.438 and was eight ahead of the best N-GT Porsche of Riccitelli and Quester. The quickest GT2 Porsche was the one of Wolfgang Kaufmann and Hubert Haupt that was seventh. That had run only second part of this session after early problems in the pits.

2nd free practice session (16:30-18:00)

The question before this meeting was if GT cars would run the Brno circuit under 2 minutes or not. They were expected to do so and the leading Lister of Bailey/Campbell-Walter was now very near to this two minutes limit when running lap at 2:00.410. Hezemans improved by three seconds and was second ahead of the other Lister. Vosse/Derichebourg were fourth and the fifth was best Porsche - again Kaufmann/Haupt from the Freisinger team. Ferrari made only seven laps before water pump belt failure occurred and set nearly the same time as in previous session. This put it on 9th place overall. Best N-GT Porsche was now Larbre Competition entry with Bouchut/Goueslard at the wheel.

It was decided by stewards that Lamborghini number 24 don't complies with technical rules and was going to be not allowed to race but after team's appeal it was allowed to take part in.

Saturday - 16th September

1st qualifying (9:00-9:45)

Julian Bailey set the provisional pole running still over two minutes (2:00.127). Bailey said that he could manage lap at 1:59 but his car shouldn't have 80 kilos success ballast. Favre in the second Lister was only 0.15 second slower that his team-mate. The third was Vosse/Derichebourg nearly one second behind Bailey. Carsport Holland car was fourth ahead two remaining Vipers. The quickest Porsche was a little surprisingly the Freisinger car no.4 driven by Chateau and Palmberger ahead of Kaufmann/Haupt - the Freisinger car no.3.

N-GT provisional pole took Luca Riccitelli (10th overall) three tenths of a second faster than Bouchut and eighth tenth faster than Wallinder in the Pennzoil G-Force car.

Ferrari was in problems again. The reason was again broken water pump although the system was completely changed. After only three completed laps it was classified 23rd. It was also the last because Wieth Racing Porsche didn't enter this qualifying at all.

2nd qualifying (14:00-14:45)

Hezemans/Hart in Carsport Holland Viper set the best time in the afternoon session, however top 9 positions in combined qualifying stayed unchanged.

Afternoon qualifying session was much slower than the first one even if the weather was good. Only four car improved their times from the morning session. Two of them were Wieth Porsche that didn't start in the morning and the only Ferrari in the field driven by Giroix/Deletraz that completed only two laps but was fifth fastest in the afternoon session behind four Vipers. Its time 2:04.986 put Ferrari on 10th place on the grid. Both Lamborghini were running 2:07 and that meant 17th and 18th position overall.

Julian Bailey didn't appear on the track at all. He was only prepared in the pits for a case that anybody beat him. But it didn't happen.

Sunday - 17th September

Warm Up (8:25-8:45)

While all practice and qualifying session were run under dry conditions, Sunday welcomed teams and drivers with a little rain. So the morning warm-up was claimed to be wet. Achieved times were about 15 seconds slower than in dry sessions but it was a good opportunity for all participants to try wet conditions on track which is new in the championship. Only Ferrari that had in Saturdays last session again the same problem as before (water pump belt failure) didn't use the opportunity and stayed in the pits. Some showers were expected for the race by the weather forecast.

Fastest time set again black Lister Storm no.14 (2:13.105). Its drivers were by more than two seconds quicker than the next car - yellow Viper of Vosse/Derichebourg. Sixth and seventh were N-GT class Porsche of Riccitelli/Quester and Bouchut/Goueslard.

The Race (13:40-16:40)

The start of the race was scheduled at 13 hours 40 minutes but with three minutes to go to the formation lap it started to rain heavily. That was why it was decided that the start was delayed by 10 minutes so that all cars could change tyres to wet. All 24 cars were on the grid but three of them (both Lamborghini and Proton Competition Porsche GT2) went to the pits to change tyres there. They had to start from the pit lane behind all field. Problems had also Ferrari, the windscreen of which was steaming up. Giroix had to pit three times to wipe a mist in laps 1, 4 and finally in eighth lap.

Because of the rain the race was started under safety car. The rain soon stopped and safety car pulled off after five laps. After the 'real' start Bailey in Lister no.14 took the lead. Vosse in Viper no.12 overtook Favre in Lister no.15 at the end of the pit straight. During the first lap Favre lost even one more position when Hezemans took the third place. In the next lap the battle for the second culminated. Hezemans took the advantage and kept then second place behind Bailey until the first series of pitstops.

In lap 7 Palmberger running in eighth position in Freisinger Porsche no.4 went into the gravel and lost more than one lap. Lamborghini no.23 driven by Kronseder went slowly into the pits and retired with transmission problems. A lap later the N-GT class leader Riccitelli in GT3 Porsche no.77 overtook Wieth in GT2 Porsche no.22 and was running eighth.

After 10 laps leading Julian Bailey was 5 seconds ahead of Hezemans. Two laps later Favre (Lister no.15) overtook Vosse (Viper no.12) and it was now Lister-Viper-Lister-Viper. Other positions belonged to Racing Box Viper driven by Matteuzzi, Paul Belmondo in no.11 Viper. Haupt was next driving the best Porsche entry in the last race-winning car of Freisinger team. Belmondo soon overtook Matteuzzi. In N-GT there was also change - the new leader was Bouchut in Larbre Porsche no.52 who overtook Riccitelli in no.77. By this time Giroix in Ferrari that was two laps back after three pitstops and was running very slowly in stopped on the track. It retired so soon even if the team had great hopes to finish after running more successful at Suzuka 1000 kilometres race.

After 17 laps Bailey is by nearly 10 seconds leading Hezemans. In lap 20 Haupt (Porsche GT2 no.3) pvertook Matteuzzi (Viper no.21) and was now running sixth. In the same lap Wallinder in Porsche no.50 went to the pits and straight into the garage after having gone off the track and damaged front bodywork a lap earlier.

Two laps later it started to rain again and Hezemans was now 2 seconds faster than leading Bailey. But the rain stopped soon again and Bailey led until lap 34 when he came into the pits for fuel, slick tyres and driver-change to Campbell-Walter. Jamie C-W returned on the second position behind Hart who had already changed Hezemans in no.25. Lister no.14 on slicks was now very slow and wasn't a good decision. The same did also Porsche no.3 and Belmondo Viper no.11. Springer who was now driving Lister no.15 on wet tyres ran a little quicker than Lister no.14 and overtook Campbell-Walter on lap 38. It was Viper-Lister-Lister-Viper now but Derichebourg in no.12 running fourth was much quicker than both Listers. So he moved to third in lap 42 and to second in lap 48. By this time we had already other retirement. The remaining Lamborghini in the race that was running on 17th position during lap 27 went to the pits for a normal fuel/tyre/driver change pitstop but did not start. It had to be pushed into the garage with gearbox failure.

In lap 50, when both Listers had already made their second pitstops (no.14 again on wet tyres), Kaufmann was shortly running third behind Vipers no.12 and leading no.25. But Listers were now quicker and both overtook Kaufmann during five laps. In N-GT the battle between Porsche no.52 (Bouchut/Goueslard) and Porsche no.77 (Riccitelli/Quester) was very exciting with both cars running together. Both had pitted in lap 41 but the RWS car no.77 didn't change drivers and had to pit later again. That was a great mistake as no.52 was not going to pit again. Number 77 then took N-GT lead in lap 44 but after its second pitstop in lap 51 and had never again a chance to battle with Goueslard in no.52.

G-Force team hadn't a good day. After having lost car no.50, the second car no.51 went into the gravel in lap 46 and again in lap 56. That meant retirement also for this car. This was the last car that retired. Five cars didn't finish the race. Both Lamborghini, the only Ferrari and both G-Force Porsches.

In lap 60 Derichebourg went to the pits for fuel only but lost one place when Campbell-Walter in Lister no.14 moved up to second. Favre was back in Lister no.15 and was noticeable quicker than Springer before and overtook Derichebourg in lap 65. Positions were now Viper no.25, Lister no.14, Lister no.15, Viper no.12, Porsche no.3 (1 lap back) and Viper no.11. Campbell-Walter was running one or two seconds quicker than leading Hezemans but during last 15 laps he had no chance to catch up more than 40 second loss. So the positions stayed unchanged until the finish.

There was a great mistake of start-marshal who had flagged several cars after three hour limit and then was warned the he had to wait for the leader. Campbell-Walter was among them, slowed but soon recognised the race is still on and finished the lap in a race speed. Worse it was with both ART Engineering cars no.55 and no.57, the first of which even lost one position and the other nearly didn't cross the finish line after turned into the pits. Such error shouldn't happen to organiser who claims the FIA GT race is only a step to Formula 1 race... Another problem occurred when in fourth lap Giroix in Ferrari made his second windscreen clearing and was kept under red light in the pitlane for several minutes till safety car came around and lost one lap. If he had not problems later, he could be very angry for organisers that didn't know rules as much as they should. For final results were taken positions after 73 laps although 75 laps were completed.

The N-GT win took Larbre Porsche no.52 of Bouchut/Goueslard ahead of RWS no.77 Riccitteli/Quester and surprisingly podium finishing Larbre car no.53 driven by de Lesseps/Ahrle. They overtook Hofer with Wollek after 50 laps.

Championship situation is very interesting before the final race at Magny-Cours. Bailey and Campbell-Walter now lead by 4.5 points ahead of Hezemans. That means that they can finish second again to take the title. Among team Lister is again ahead of Belmondo but the difference is so small that final decision depends on how both cars of both teams will finish in France.