Sunday 5 June 2011

FIA GT3: Lights to Flag Victory for AF Corse Ferrari

Francesco Castellacci took the chequered flag at the end of Round 3 of the FIA GT3 European Championship at Silverstone to give former FIA GT2 Champions AF Corse their first FIA GT3 victory. Federico Leo lead from the start from Pole Position and built up a comfortable lead before handing over to Castellacci, who brought the Ferrari 458 home. Maxime Martin and Gael Lesoudier took their first FIA GT3 race win since they won at Silverstone in 2009 with Morgan. This time, from 8th on the grid, they secured the first international podium finish for LMP Motorsport in the teams Aston Martin DBRS9, 3.5 seconds ahead of nr3 Graff Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG of Mike Parisy and Philippe Giauque in third. From 15th on the grid, Giauque and Parisy secured the final podium place after a successful last lap move on the nr6 Need for Speed Team Schubert BMW Z4 of Abdulaziz AL Faisal.

With a very clean start from the entire GT3 grid, Federico Leo managed to keep his pole position from the start, and spent the race building his lead. Leo built up a comfortable cushion to his nearest rival when he handed it over to his team mate, which allowed the team to factor in their 10 second success time from the last round.

Behind the leading AF Corse Ferrari, the battle for second place was hard, but fair with Markus Palttala in the nr13 Fischer Racing Ford GT holding onto a strong second until lap 10 when he suffered a right rear puncture, and had to head for the pits.

The fight for second continued between the nr25 Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo LP600 of Nikolaus Mayr-Melnhof and the nr6 Need for Speed Team Schubert BMW Z4 GT3 of Edward Sandstroem. Sandstroem closed in on Lamborghini but couldn’t find a way past. At the pit window the Swede decided to stay out as the Austrian pitted to hand over the Lamborghini to Albert von Thurn und Taxis. Sandstroem pitted just before he pit window closed but his strategy didn’t pay off as Abdulaziz Al Faisel rejoined in 3rd place.

However the BMW Z4 was soon challenging the Lamborghini and for von Thurn und Taxis the going got tough. He held on to the place for a few laps but once the nr6 overtook him, the rest of the field caught up, pushing him slowly down to finish in 11th.

Further back Maxime Martin in the nr9 LMP Motorsport Aston Martin started his steady climb up from 6th place and by lap 22 he was challenging the second place BMW. On lap 23 he overtook Al Faisal for second, which he kept until the end.

Also moving rapidly up the field was the nr3 Graff Racing Mercedes SLS AMG GT3, driven by Mike Parisy. The Mercedes-Benz had started in 15th by Philippe Giauque and the Swiss driver managed to climb up the field before the pit stop to hand over to Parisy. The former French GT3 Champion continued to climb up the order and snatched the final podium place away from Al Faisal in the last lap.

Round 4 of the 2011 FIA GT3 European Championship will take place at Silverstone at 11:45 (local) on Sunday 5th June, with full coverage online at

CLICK HERE for the provisional result for Round 3

CLICK HERE for the Race Facts

CLICK HERE for the championship positions after Round 3

Nr50 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia - 1st

Federico Leo: “Thank you to everyone. I did a good start. It was my first start from the first row in GT. It was exciting for me. I tried to make as big a gap as possible as we had the 10 second penalty from Portimao. The car was very fast. I need to say thank you to the team. It is the first victory for AF Corse in the FIA GT3, and a new car; it’s been very good work. I’m very sorry for the other AF Corse car. Francesco also did a very good job to keep and increase the gap as well. My team told me to stay out longer as we were increasing the gap.”

Francesco Castellacci: “I was really pleased with the gap I had. I increased it a bit more, and I just tried to keep the same pace until the end of the race, without stressing the tyres too much. The car was really good. Federico gave me a really good car, in very good condition, so I just had to handle it to the end of the race. I would just like to also thank the Michelin for giving us very good tyres, and the team and Michelotto, to give us a very good package and a good car.”

Nr9 Team LMP Motorsport - 2nd

Gael Lesoudier: “I’m very happy to be here. We have a good feeling on this circuit. Two years ago we won here with the Morgan. I did a good start. I decided to race safe, because we knew that we had some trouble at the front at the end of the race. But we made a little mistake during the pitstop, we had some trouble with the seat belt and lost more or less 5 seconds. Maxime did a great job and overtook some cars, as he usually does. We like this layout, it’s quite different, but it’s a track where the Aston is very fast.”

Maxime Martin: “This place is great for the team and for Aston Martin, and we’ll see for the second race, where we’re starting from the first row, so I hope we can do something good. We can make the difference on the quick corners and it’s definitely a track for the Aston. Tomorrow, we’ll push and we will see.”

Nr3 Graff Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 - 3rd

Philippe Giauque: “When you start in 15th, the trick is to not touch any other car, and to pass the car over to Mike in the best possible position for him to finish the race, and he did it. I was following a Mercedes for my whole run, and as the same Mercedes pushed me out in Portimao, I decided to stay behind and to wait. I just took my time and kept the tyres in a good condition for Mike. I know how good the Ferrari is because I drive one off the track, but the Mercedes is a good car, but they keep on adding weight to us. We are so heavy, which you can see as he made the pole in Portimao, but was only 11th today.”

Mike Parisy: “It was a very good result for the team and for us. The car was perfect after Philippe’s stint. I tried to push and catch up to the leaders. We overtook a lot of cars. It was very difficult, but I had the same rhythm as Maxime, so I managed to pass 3rd in the last lap. It was very intense. It’s been a very good result. We had a difficult qualifying this morning, the car is very heavy now and it’s not very easy for us.”

Info: Jeff Carter

Media Delegate,

Photos: DPPI.

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