Four thrilling races, four different winning cars - the 2005 season of the FIA GT Championship has truly got off to an
amazing start. In the scorching heat, the three-hour race around the beautiful, but difficult circuit of Imola took a high
toll on the FIA GT competitors, with an unusually high attrition rate and only 14 cars classified at the end. But the
survivors - as well as those who did not make it to the chequered flag - put on a fantastic show in the difficult
conditions, with the top six cars on the same lap just minutes from the end. In the end, however, the day belongs to
GLPK-Carsport, who became the first overall Belgian winner when their Corvette C5-R crossed the finish line in first
position, and to GruppeM, who claimed their third one-two of the season, with a fine win for Collard and Sugden after a
The results remain provisional pending engine checks on the nr 6 and the nr 88 winning cars.
Carsport And The Corvette Take Their First FIA GT Win
For the first time in nine years of racing, a Belgian team has claimed victory in the FIA GT Championship. GLPK-
Carsport claimed its maiden win, which was also the first win for the Corvette C5-R. Mike Hezemans, Bert Longin and
Anthony Kumpen put in a faultless performance, leading for nearly the entire three hours, except for a short time
before their second pit-stop. Mike Hezemans, who claimed his seventh victory today, started from pole, after a major
scare for the team. Faced with a broken gear-box after the warm-up, and considering retirement, the team managed to
repair the car and took the start. "I didn't know how it would last, so I decided to push very hard for the first laps, at least
to give the spectators a good show. But after around 25 laps everything was feeling good, and I was very positive,"
Mike explained. Setting the fastest lap early on, he handed the car over to Longin without losing the lead. The Belgian
put in a great stint, resisting pressure from Thomas Biagi, until he opted to let him through. "I knew they had to do an
extra stop, so I decided to be cool out there today," he said. Anthony Kumpen took over, and when the Maserati pitted,
was back in the lead "I had quite a comfortable gap of over thirty seconds, so I just had to keep ahead. But I was
getting pretty worried, as you begin to hear all the noises and worry that there will be a problem with the car." They
crossed the finish line 19 seconds ahead of the nr 11 Larbre Competition Ferrari 550 Maranello of Pedro Lamy and
Gabriele Gardel, with the nr 10 Vitaphone Maserati MC 12 of Thomas Biagi and Fabio Babini third - three different cars
on the top three places, within 24 seconds. "It is a great result after two near misses. It has also be a great weekend
for me, as I got pole position, fastest lap and the win ! I am quite proud of myself today !" a jubilant Mike Hezemans
Second For Larbre Competition
French team Larbre Competition continued its excellent comeback to the FIA GT Championship with second place in
today's race. The team put in a fine performance, with the nr 11 Ferrari 550 Maranello always towards the front. Eight
points for second has put Gabriele Gardel in joint second place in the Championship classification, on the same
points as Wendlinger and Bertolini, just one point behind leaders Biagi and Babini. Larbre Competition is lying third in
the Teams classification, having finished in the points in each and every race. "It was too hot out there today - the last
laps were very difficult," Pedro said. "I felt very bad after my first stint, but I was able to recover and get back in the car.
We had a good set-up today. The Corvette was just too fast for us today, so second place is good. "
Biagi And Babini Take The Championship Lead For Vitaphone
For the fourth race in a row, Biagi and Babini, in the nr 10 Vitaphone Racing Team Maserati MC 12, have finished in
third place on the track. This remarkable consistency - added to the full points they received at Silverstone, when the
Aston Martin cars did not score - has given them a slender one-point lead in the Drivers Classification. Running a
four-stint strategy, as did all the Maserati cars, they were involved in some close fights with the Corvette as well as the
Larbre and GPC Ferraris. Vitaphone now has a fine lead in the Teams classification, with nine points separating them
from JMB Racing. The nr 9 car, which put in an amazing performance in qualifying despite 80 kg penalty weight,
started off strongly but had to retire with a gearbox problem. The nr 10 car will now go on to Brno with the maximum
100 kg. " It is a very good result for us," Biagi confirmed. "The 80 kg was very hard today, and we will have 100 kg for
Brno, but I am not worried. I won a lot of races in the Ferrari with 100 kg so I am still confident."
A Race Of Attrition
Fourth place went to the nr 15 JMB Racing Maserati of Bertolini and Wendlinger, struggling with 70 kg ballast and bad
oversteer, but putting in a regular race to score as many points as possible - as well as losing weight for the next
round. The team's second car finished fifth, after two excellent stints from Philipp Peter at the start and mid-race. The
nr 3 GPC Sport Ferrari 575 M Maranello was classified sixth, having been third until very shortly before the chequered
flag. In what had been its best race to date by far, the Melo/Belloc car had a late drive-through penalty, and then ran out
of fuel just three laps from the end. The final two points went to the nr 8 Graham Nash Saleen of Casoni, Panzavuota
and Varini, as the seventh and last GT1 car to be classified in a hard race.
Among the non-finishers, the Russian Age Racing Ferrari went out early on, with a puncture following contact. The
rapid Camathias/Ruberti Graham Nash Saleen lost a wheel before the start, and retired mid-raced as a consequence
of the damage. The two Konrad cars had a difficult race, while the nr 2 GPC car, very fast early on, suffered a gearbox
failure. The Lister had an engine failure, while the the Ram Racing Saleen crossed the finish line but just missed out
on being classified, after the heat affected Max Stanco and Janus had to wait in the pits in order not to exceed the
maximum driving time.
Second G2 Win For Mosler
The Balfe Motorsport Mosler took its second consecutive win, finishing 9th overall, between the two Gruppe M
Porsches and the Graham Nash Saleen. "I've never driven in such hot conditions," Jamie Derbyshire said afterwards.
"We didn't know what to expect. Both of us, 35 minutes into our first stint, we were both shot, and on the radio telling
them we were not going to be capable of driving at the speeds we normally do. They asked us to hang on. I got out
and almost collapsed. I had to go back to the motorhome and lie down in the air conditionning and cool down. Then
they came to tell me that Shaun was in a similar condition again, so I pulled my suit back on and came back out to do
the last 25 minutes. To be truthful, I'm happy to get to the end of it. The GruppeM cars will always be tough to beat, but
we're happy with what we're doing so far." The Vertigo Streiff failed to finish, stopping by the side of the track after 30
laps, while it had been running strongly.