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FIA GT Championship Brno 2002

17th - 19th May 2002

Event report

Friday - 17th May

The third round of the FIA GT Championship was held at Brno together with other two FIA championships: touring cars and sportscars. It was held under Olympia LG Super Racing Weekend banner. Because of presence of sportscars, usual SRW support races such as Lamborghini Trophy or Renault Clio and Formula Renault were cancelled for this one weekend. The programme was very busy over the three days.

Practice sessions

Friday was all about GTs and prototypes. Only these two categories rotated on the track with GTs having only free practice sessions. Together 29 cars were present, among them three local teams that made their debut in the FIA GT championship. These were Machanek Racing Porsche from Slovakia that made their race debut at 4 hour Brno national race in April earlier this year with former Coca-Cola Racing Porsche. The second former Coca-Cola car had been bought by Czech team Vonka Racing that debuted his car last year in non championship Brno 6 hour race in November. Jan Vonka is former national hillclimb champion in groups C3 and N. He also won the first European Hillclimb race in GT class at Rechberg this year. Last local entrant was Sport Team NH Car of former superturismo driver Vaclav Nimc. He bought brand new Porsche 996 GT3-RS model 2002 for this season but during his debut in April at national race, he damaged two gearboxes and couldn't start the race. Now the car looked in much better form. Josef Venc was called in the last minute as a co-driver and made some good times with the car.

However the greatest local star was definitely F3000 championship leader and occasional F1 driver Tomas Enge. He had originally start with Prodrive Ferrari but the team decided that after great performance at Le Mans test they do not want to change the car to FIA GT regulations that are different and prefered just to show their two Volvos in touring car race. Thus Enge's manager Antonin Charouz arranged agreement with another Ferrari entrant BMS Scuderia Italia to enter one car with Tomas.

Tomas Enge was without doubt the quickest GT driver on the track during Friday and won both free sessions and was the only driver to run under 2 minutes. Second was always Lister no.14 driven by Jamie Campbell-Walter.

Saturday - 18th May

First qualifying session

Tomas Enge improved his times from previous day but it wasn't enough to keep provisional pole as Jamie Campbell-Walter ran strong at 1:58.236. Second fastest was Bouchut in Larbre Viper (1:58.912) and he believed it is the best time that could be achieved with Chrysler this weekend. The third quickest was Force One Racing Ferrari, in which Philippe Alliot set 1:59.061 despite engine installation problems. However all car's times were cancelled because it failed a ride-height test because of faulty spring. So to third moved better of Carsport Holland Vipers ahead of already mentioned Enge's BMS Ferrari. In N-GT class Stephane Ortelli took the provisional pole over two JMB Ferraris.

Super Pole

This session followed the sportscar championship race, which enjoyed a good crowd, not seen so far at Brno. All people applauded Tomas Enge when he crossed the line of one-lap Super Pole session in the first position. Three drivers that made their lap after Enge were not able to beat him. Local audience enjoyed Tomas' performance very much ancouraged also by good commentary giving also midway times.

Other positions in Super Pole session belonged to Bouchut (Larbre Viper no.1), Campbell-Walter (Lister no.14), Anthony Kumpen (Carsport Viper no.3), Gollin (Carsport Viper no.4) and Vosse (Larbre Viper no.2). Among N-GT JMS Ferraris were fastest (Pescatori no.50 ahead of Bertolini no.51) because Ortelli in Freisinger Posche no.54 who was fastest qualifier in the morning session ran on old set of tyres. Jürgen von Gartzen missed the session after an accident in the morning. However his car was soon repaired and took part in the second qualifyfing session.

Second qualifying session

This session wasn't important to establish front rows positions, so despite all 29 car took part in, quickest was Babini in Belmondo Viper no.12 who left all Listers, Ferraris and Carport plus Larbre Vipers behind him as they needn't set best times but rather prepare race setups or so. Problems continued with Force One Racing Ferrari. After all times disallowed in previous sessions they had now water pump failure and did not complete more than two laps and were only 28th. This car would the next day became the only non-starter in the race after problems in warm up.

Sunday - 19th May

The Race

A record crowd visited the joint FIA GT and ETCC Sunday's event. We cannot say how many people were present but it was definitely at least two or rather three times more than in previous visits of FIA GT or ISRS at Brno. People were encouraged by seeing local favourite Tomas Enge on pole position. It was the first pole for Ferrari since Zolder last year. Enge became starting driver of BMS Ferrari no.23 after great performance in previous days. He took the lead just after the start and was running nearly one second quicker each lap than his main opponents. After 20 laps he had twenty seconds margin over Jamie Campbell-Walter who started third but overtook Bouchut during 18th lap. However by that time a collision between Garbagnatti (JMB Ferrari no.51) and Bryner (BMS Ferrari no.22) forced a safety car period. Enge decide to make his first pitstop but he wasn't allowed to join the track earlier than all cars behind safety car finished another lap and found himself a lap down. We think it was a great mistake by local track marshalls (and not the only one). After the race was restarted Enge became again fastest driver on the track and set fastest lap that was not improved until the end of the race. However his car soon suffered from engine problems and ended in garage. So this show was over.

After the safety car period Jamie Campbell-Walter found himself in the lead ahead of Bouchut (no.1), Kumpen (no.3) who turned into pits in the next lap for scheduled pitstop and driver change. So the third was then Fabrizio Gollin in the second Carsport car no.4. He later in lap 26 overtook Bouchut (no.1) and ran second. Bouchut was loosing his pace and lost another place (to Verdon-Roe in Lister no.15) before his first pitstop. There were interesting midfield battles as well as battles for third to about 10th positions. First series of pitstops ended in lap 32, changed positions and also performance of some cars. Most notable example was Campbell-Walter's co-driver Nicolaus Springer who was running laps times about 7 or even 10 seconds slower than Jamie and quickly lost the first place. Hezemans (no.3) who was the first in the pits from top runners took the opportunity and took the lead soon in lap 40. Other Vipers were more behind, so Springer stayed second until lap 47 running some 5 seconds slower than Vipers and also slower then the other Lister driven now by Knapfield, who is another Lister gentleman driver. When Terrien in Larbre Viper no.1 overtook both Listers for second, leading Hezemans was far ahead and it looked for clear win.

During lap 48 Knapfield in Lister no.15 spins off, hits the barriers and is out of the race. Lap 53 is deliverance of illness Lister no.14 because the seat is taken again by Campbell-Walter who's hopes are to cut the Springer's delay as much as possible. When Jamie returned to the race in lap 54 the positions were as follows: leading Hezemans (no.3), Terrien (no.1), Duez (no.12), Rosenblad (no.2), Dierick (no.11), Gollin (no.4) and Campbell-Walter (no.14). In lap 58 Viper no.11 changed drivers to Belmondo but had starting problems, lost some time and appeared on 7th place one lap behind leaders. All top six cars were lapping about 2:02. Kumpen in no.3 was clear leader but next fours cars (no.12, no.4, no.14 and no.1) ran all very close together and the race became very exciting. Vosse in no.2 was some 20 seconds behind them.

The close battle of four cars for second continued until lap 73 when second running Babini made a mistake, went off course to the gravel and lost two laps. By that time Kumpen lead by 44 seconds over Gollin in no.4 who was in close battle with Campbell-Walter (no.14) and Bouchut (no.1). However in lap 76 rear wheel of leading Viper was lost and the race ended for Carsport Holland leading car. His relay took over second Carsport Viper closely followed by duo Campbell-Walter and Bouchut, which overtook themselves several times. Three laps before expected finish due to three hour race limit (despite officially run to 500 kilometres) Campbell-Walter took the second from Bouchut and strongly attacked Gollin for the lead. He finally overtakes him in the first turn of the final lap of the race and wins the very dramatic GT race. Even Bouchut (no.1) could manage to overtake Gollin (no.4) in the final lap. The fourth but still in the lead lap finished Larbre Viper no.2 driven by Vosse/Rosenblad. At the end of the race Belmondo in Viper no.11 looses speed for some technical problem and is overtaken in the last lap by his team car no.12 that was delayed earlier.

The N-GT race was a race between Ferrari no.50 and Porsche no.54. Earlier in the race there were more cars involved in the battle (Porsche Orlando no.58 that led early, Porsche no.60 of von Gartzen or Ferrari no.51 that soon retired due to accident) but the second half of the race saw close running of both cars together. Porsche no.54 was driven by Lieb and Ferrari no.50 by Montermini. They ran in this order for several tens of laps with gap rarely exceeding 1 second until lap 73 when Montermini made a mistake and spun. Since then it was nearly decided. At the end the Porsche had gearbox problems and couldn't run sixth gear but its margin was large enough to retain class victory.

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