Monday 6 June 2011

FIA GT3: Faster Racing BMW 1-2 in Round 4 at Silverstone

It was a 1-2 for the all Dutch Faster Racing DB Motorsport team in Round 4 of the FIA GT3 European Championship at Silverstone with Hoevert Vos taking the chequered flag in the nr35 BMW Z4 after passing his teammate, Harrie Kolen, on the last lap of the race. The LMP Motorsport Aston Martin DBRS9 driven by Gael Lesoudier and Maxime Martin took the final podium place, rounding off a good weekend for the French team after finishing second in Saturday's race.

Twenty seven cars lined for the rolling start for the fourth race of the 2011 FIA GT3 European Championship season with the nr36 Faster Racing by DB Motorsport BMW of Nick Catsburg on pole position. However at the green light it was the nr9 LMP Motorsport Aston Martin of Maxime Martin that got the better start and led into the first corner. However behind the leaders chaos ensued as the nr44 Heico Motorsport Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG of Brice Bosi was tipped into a high speed spin which also involved the nr 8 LMP Aston Martin of Dimitri Enjalbert and the nr33 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 of Greg Franchi. All drivers were OK but with debris covering the track the Safety Car was deployed.

Racing resumed on on lap 5 with Catsburg putting the pressure on the leading Aston Martin from the restart. On lap 6 Catsburg put the BMW alongside Martin's Aston at Turn 4 but the Belgian driver held his nerve and the lead of the race. Catsburg tred again on lap 7 at the same place but had to wait until a lap later before he could make the move stick and move ahead of the Aston Martin into the lead. Once released Catsburg moved ahead of the field while the nr21 MTECH Ferrari 458 of Matt Griffin closed up to challenge Maxime Martin for 2nd.

The pit window opened on lap 11 but most of the front runners elected to stay out. The leading BMW had opened up a 5.8 second gap to the nr9 LMP Motorsport Aston Martin continued to defend his 2nd place from Griffin's Ferrari. At Club corner on lap 13 Griffin dived down the inside and moved ahead just before the lead cars headed for the pits to complete their stops. It was a disasterous stop for the MTECH Ferrari as it failed to restart for Duncan Cameron and the team had to push start the Ferrari, which isn't allowed by the regulations.

After all the stops the nr36 BMW, now with Harrie Kolen at the wheel, had a comfortable 18 second lead over the nr15 Saintloc Racing Audi R8 of Jerome Demay who was coming under pressure from the nr9 Aston Marin now with Gael Lesoudier at the wheel, the nr35 Faster Racing by DB Motorsport BMW of Hoevert Vos and the AF Corse Ferrari of Dan Brown. On lap 17 Demay was passed by Lesoudier and Vos and then lost another place to Brown on lap 18, but fought back to regain the position a lap later.

The nr50 AF Corse of Federico Leo was also moving up the field, passing the two Graff Racing Mercedes-Benz before passing Demay's Audi to run nose to tail with his teammate.

Meanwhile the nr35 BMW had moved passed the nr9 Aston Martin to take second place and was quickly eating into Kolen's lead. In just four laps the lead had shrunk from 10 seconds to just two tenths as the two BMWs crossed the line to begin the last lap. Vos dived down the inside at the first corner on the final lap and swept into the lead and Hoevert Vos led Harrie Kolen to the chequered flag to record the team's first win in the FIA GT3 European Championship. The nr9 LMP Motorsport Aston Martin was third ahead of the two AF Corse Ferrari 458s. However the nr50 AF Corse Ferrari of Federico Leo and Francesco Castellacci was given a drive through, which was converted to a 30-second penalty after the race, dropping the Italians down to 11th from 5th place. The nr7 Need for Speed Schubert Motorsport was excluded from the result for causing an avoidable accident.

The win gives Jeroen den Boer and Hoevert Vos (50 points) a five point lead over Edward Sandstoem and Abdulaziz Al Faisal (45 points) in the Driver Championship and the Faster Racing by DB Motorsport team has closed the gap to the Need for Speed Schubert Motorsport to just 8 points in the Team Championship.

The next two rounds will take place in Navarra on the 2/3 July.

CLICK HERE for result of Round 4

CLICK HERE for the Race Facts

CLICK HERE for the Championship Positions after Round 4

Nr35 Faster Racing by DB Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3

Jeroen den Boer: “My start was really good. I could overtake the nr 4 in the first corner. Unfortunately at the straight, the Audi came over, who are much quicker in the straight, and I was a bit surprised. The restart after the safety car was fine, I had a nice gap behind me, so I could really push to overtake the Audi; I tried a lot of times, but it was difficult to get over. I was much quicker, but I couldn’t find a nice spot to overtake him. I was surprised when I had to pit in, we were having such a nice fight. The team manager told me it was the last chance to enter the pit lane, so I had to come in. I handed the car over in p5, and Hoevert did a really good job. After Portimao where we didn’t get much time in the car, and yesterday we managed 5th, today everything just fell into place.”

Hoevert Vos: “It was a very good struggle. They were really fighting, but we’re a lot quicker in the corners. It was a very nice battle, and I won it, so it was the best battle for me. Seven minutes before the end, my team manager said that the gap was 13 seconds, and I knew that I was quicker around the track, so I kept on pushing. When I caught up to them, I wasn’t thinking about it, and in the first corner, I just went, and came out ahead. Everything is perfect here.”

Nr36 Faster Racing by DB Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3

Nicky Catsburg: “At the start, I got overtaken by Maxime Martin, his car was a bit faster on the straight line. And then we were a bit unlucky with the safety car, because the plan was to make a big gap to leave Harrie with some space, so the safety car was a bit disappointing, but after the safety car, I could overtake Maxime, because he seemed to be struggling with his car a bit. After that I could make a big gap, and I tried to keep on pushing on every lap like in qualifying, and made a big gap. Then I went into the pit box as fast as possible to give to Harrie and he did a really good job in only his second race on this level, and also for the team, P1 and P2 is amazing, because we’re quite inexperienced, so congratulations to the P1 guys, and especially to Harrie.”

Harrie Kolen: “I’m happy with the result. The car was fine. I was coasting along, I had a lot of time out ahead to myself. I’m just very happy.”

Nr9 Team LMP Motorsport Aston Martin DBRS9

Maxime Martin: “I got a really good start. I was really happy with the safety car, because I knew they were quicker, so I tried to stay in front, but he was too quick, so I let him pass without any problems, and I tried to push and to give a car with the best possible tyres to Gael, because we know we’re struggling a bit with the tyres. He did a really good job at the end, and we got another podium, the team’s second podium, which is great for the team. We started very badly in Portimao, but got 2 podiums here, so it’s very good. Navarra won’t suit the Aston, and we’ll struggle there, so we’re happy to get two podiums here, because we know that on some circuits it will be very difficult.”

Gael Lesoudier: “It’s been a fantastic weekend for us. We’ve taken a lot of points for the championship. We had a 10 second penalty from yesterday’s podium, but I tried to push but we have some trouble with the traction at the rear, so I decided to keep the position. There was a big gap to 4th, so we decided to keep 3rd and get points. We can hope to get another good result at Paul Ricard, it’s another good track for Aston Martins.”

Info: Jeff Carter

Photos: DPPI.

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