Spa race report
TRACK CONDITIONS Sunny skies and a temperature of 22 degrees made racing conditions ideal for the two and a half hour race. FERRARI TO THE FORE ONCE MORE BMS Scuderia Italia scored their second 1-2 finish of the season at Spa Francorchamps ...
Sunny skies and a temperature of 22 degrees made racing conditions ideal for the two and a half hour race.
FERRARI TO THE FORE ONCE MORE
BMS Scuderia Italia scored their second 1-2 finish of the season at Spa Francorchamps today with Marco Zadra and Jean Marc Gounon triumphing after the Den Bla Avis Dome car of John Nielsen and Hiroki Katoh relinquished a healthy lead due to a cracked shock absorber.
The result means that Zadra now leads the championship after adding another maximum score to the one that he earned in the season opening race at Barcelona. The young Italian was delighted with the win and with his new team mate after the race, "It was another great job by the team today and Jean Marc has really helped me to get a good lead in the championship race. The early stages of the race were very exciting when I was battling for third place with the Ascari because we touched wheels on a few occasions."
Gounon, who is deputising for Christian Pescatori in three races this year took over the lead from the Dome after 1hr and 45 minutes and the Frenchman wasted no time in opening up a healthy lead from the sister car of Angelo Zadra/Enzo Calderari and Lilian Bryner. "It is nice to come back in to this championship with a win, as I left it with one also at Kyalami in 1999 aboard the DAMS Lola." said Jean Marc. "The Ferrari chassis is a great car to drive but the engine lacks some power compared to the Judd car. But we were there when the Dome had a problem and that was the important thing at the end of the race."
Completing a great day for the Prancing Horse was the second car after 'Papa Zadra' opened with a double stint that saw the car quickly move in to 3rd position, from where Enzo Calderari and Lilian Bryner moved the scarlet car in to a worthy second place. With consistent pace and by simply keeping out of trouble, the trio matched their result here last year and now move in to second place in the championship, just ten points behind the lead car.
There was ultimately disappointment for the pole winning Den Bla Avis Dome after John Nielsen had led from the start before handing over to Japanese team mate Hiroki Katoh who initially consolidated the lead from the pursuing Ferrari of Gounon. It all turned to nought however when the Judd powered S101 pitted when Hiroki noticed the car's handling to be awry, almost pitching him off the track on a number of occasions. Team Manager Karl Patman was philosophical after seeing his car command the race from the start and then slip down to an eventual 10th place by flagfall, "It is a shame because we had the legs of everyone today, but we always prepare ourselves for little problems like this with such a new car."
It was on the whole another very positive day for the Dome constructor as the second S101 of Jan Lammers' Racing For Holland team scored their second consecutive podium position in third place. The worlds fastest chess board (the car has a unique chequered livery) had got off to a bad start when Jan stalled as the field left for the formation lap and was thus required to start from the back of the field, " It was my mistake" said the typically honest Dutchman, " but from there on it was a good race for us, we had some problems with the tyres picking up debris on the track towards the end of my stint and then I handed over to Val (Hillebrand), who I must say did a fantastic job today. There are not many 19 year olds who drive with that level of maturity in a race like this."
Coming home in 4th place was the Team Ascari Judd and the team that finished their first race at Monza, were scheduled for another visit but were defeated by a myriad of problems as Ben Collins explained, " It was a pretty fraught race for me as I had to defend from Zadra in the opening stages and we had some good fights on the run down the straight from Blanchimont and in to the chicane. We touched on a couple of occasions but it was no problem, just good racing. We then had the front bodywork come loose and then I ran out of fuel entering the pits." These dramas cost the ex Indy Lights racer and his team mate Werner Lupberger a probable third place, but they still scored 10 points for their eventual 4th place.
Of the other SR1 runners, the GLV Brums car was the only other finisher in 5th place after a brake problem cost them three laps in the pits. Christian Vann had opened the driving and was keeping with the battle for third before having several exciting locking up moments at the Bus Stop chicane when the brakes started to fail. Team principal and hero of Monza, Giovanni Lavaggi then nursed the car home to bag more points that moves them in to 4th place in the points table.
There also more Italian disappointment when the R&M team were disqualified from the race after receiving pushing their car away from the pit after Mauro Baldi lost the use of his starter motor. The stewards instantly called in the car and a clearly upset Baldi was forced to park the Riley & Scott. Running second in the early stages of the race, the Italian was in a comfortable 2nd place until the problems set in.
Both the Kremer Racing Lola of Sam Hancock and Didier De Radigues and the Redman Bright Reynard 01Q Judd of Peter Owen and Mark Smithson had repeats of their Monza problems with the Lola retiring on the first lap with a misfire and the silver Reynard losing the use of its rear brakes. Peter Owen had earlier been towed out of a gravel trap after a spin at Pouhon but team manager John Bright reported that this was not linked to the eventual retirement when Mark Smithson parked the car.
SR2 saw the inevitable close racing with the Italians coming out on top with the Tampolli of BM Autosport's Massimo Monti and Renato Nobili taking a richly deserved win. Taking the lead from the start, the flying Monti fended off the advances of the much more fancied Pilbeam's and Lola to take the small teams second win after that triumph at Magny Cours last year. Lapping close to qualifying pace from the start, the perennially underrated Italian scorched around the Ardennes to set up Renato Nobili for the win. It was not to prove that easy though for the cheerful Renato, as he had to fend off the advances of the Lucchini Engineering car of Raffaele Raimondi at the end of the race.
At one stage the brand new Lucchini led, but that did not last long as the cars propensity to overheat came back to haunt it and they faded at the end when a lengthy pit stop dropped them to 3rd place. Gratefully taking that second place was Francioni and Raimondi's team mates in the second car, Piergiuseppe Peroni and championship newcomer Jean Bernard Bouvet. The car had only been finished the night before and with Roberto Tonetti and Massimo Saccommano coming home 4th, it was a delighted Giorgio Lucchini who watched his very promising new cars take the flag. The third 'works' Lucchini of Denny Zardo and Mauro Prospero succumbed to a broken front suspension at the halfway mark
The SportsRacing Team Sweden Lola, that seemed nigh on invincible at Barcelona and Monza suffered rare mechanical #problems when the same electrical gremlins that spoilt their qualifying session came back to haunt them again, when the engine started cutting out sporadically throughout the afternoon. With keeping their championship lead firmly in mind, the team was forced to play the percentage game and they eventually finished 5th in the three-litre class, scoring 8 points that could be valuable at season's end.
The value of those points for the Stanley Dickens run team was all the more significant after pole sitters Rowan Racing were forced out of the race with a broken gear linkage. The other Pilbeam in the field of the Roy Baker run Team Swara outfit had another short race after Michael Mallock ended his race on the first lap in the Eau Rouge barriers.
An impressive first race from the distinctive Renauer Tampolli team secured them their first ever points in the championship with rookie Hanness Gsell and Martin Henderson bringing the Alfa powered car home in a very creditable 6th place. Pierre Bruneau's Debora was 7th with Marc Rostan and Arturo Merzario completing the drive and Raniere Randaccio's SCI team were classified 7th in class despite Leonardo Maddalena parking the car towards the end with an as yet unspecified mechanical problem. The Rapier 6 Nissan of Ian Flux and Mike Millard was unable to cure its engine problem that blighted its progress in qualifying.
Another intriguing race between the older cars and the more contemporary cars produced great wheel to wheel action and now the series takes a mini summer break before reconvening at Brno on 1st July.