FIA GT Round 4 - Imola

First Corvette Win

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 perfect weekend.

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 said.

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.


Car Class Drivers Car Time/Laps


6 GT1 Longin/Kumpen/Hezemans Corvette C5R 97 laps


11 GT1 Lamy/Gardel Ferrari 550 Maranello -19.264


10 GT1 Babini/Biagi Maserati MC12 GT1 -24.005


15 GT1 Bertolini/Wendlinger Maserati MC12 GT1 -53.757


16 GT1 Peter/Buncombe/Rusinov Maserati MC12 GT1 -1 LAP


3 GT1 Melo/Belloc Ferrari 575 Maranello GTC -3 LAPS


88 GT2 Collard/Sugden Porsche 996 GT3 RSR -3 LAPS


66 GT2 Lieb/Rockenfeller Porsche 996 GT3 RSR -3 LAPS


101 G2 Balfe/Derbyshire Mosler MT900R -8 LAPS


8 GT1 Casoni/Varini/Panzavuota Saleen S7 R -9 LAPS


87 GT2 Kaufmann/Moro Porsche 996 GT3 RSR -9 LAPS


69 GT2 Ried/Ried Porsche 996 GT3 RS -9 LAPS


74 GT2 Moccia/Busnelli Porsche 996 GT3 RSR -10 LAPS


56 GT2 Vonka/Amaduzzi/Castro Porsche 996 GT3 RS -11 LAPS

Not Classified


20 GT1 Stanco/Janus Saleen S7 R 66 N.C.F.


5 GT1 Lechner/Bobbi Saleen S7 R 46 D.N.F.


4 GT1 Becker/Hermann Saleen S7 R 43 D.N.F.


85 GT2 Wilson/MacAri Ferrari 360 Modena 38 D.N.F.


105 G2 Kuppens/Leinders Vertigo Streiff 30 D.N.F.


9 GT1 Bartels/Scheider Maserati MC12 GT1 27 D.N.F.


14 GT1 Keen/Halliday Lister Storm GT 22 D.N.F.


2 GT1 Deletraz/Piccini Ferrari 575 Maranello GTC 21 D.N.F.


7 GT1 Ruberti/Camathias Saleen S7 R 11 D.N.F.


17 GT1 Bouchut/Fomenko/Vasiliev Ferrari 550 Maranello 3 D.N.F.

GPC Ferrari 575 - Melo & Belloc
JMB Maserati MC12 - Wendlinger & Peter
Vitaphone Maserati MC 12 - Bartels & Scheider
Vitaphone Maserati MC 12 - Thomas Biagi
Imola Ambiance
Imola Ambiance
Vitaphone Maserati team - Michael Bartels
JMB Maserati MC12 - Peter & Rusinov & Buncombe
Imola Ambiance
JMB Maserati team - Philipp Peter
Vitaphone Maserati MC 12 - Bartels & Scheider
Larbre Competition Ferrari 550 - Gardel & Lamy
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