Round 5 winners Albert von Thurn und Taxis and Nikolaus Mayr-Melnhof scored their second win of the 2011 season in emphatic style with a lights to flag victory in Round 7 at Paul Ricard. Von Thurn und Taxis, starting from Pole Position in the nr24 Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo, led the 28 car grid into the first corner and opened up a 10 second gap to the following cars by the time the pitstop window opened. The nr24 Lamborghini was the last to pit and Mayr-Melnhof took over the driving duties and he held the lead until the chequered flag.
Second place went to the nr50 AF Corse Ferrari 458 of Federico Leo and Francsesco Castellacci after Leo made up two places at the first corner from 4th on the grid. Despite pressure from the nr1 Prospeed Porsche of Paul van Splunteren Leo handed over the car in 2nd place, with Castellacci bringing the car home for their third podium finish and the lead of the FIA GT3 Drivers Championship.
The final podium place went to the nr15 Sainteloc Racing Audi R8 LMS of Dino Lunardi and Jerome Demay. Demay made up seven places on the opening lap from 13th on the grid and handed the Audi to Lunardi in 4th place. A penalty for the nr1 Porsche for a pitstop infringement gave Lunardi the final podium position.
CLICK HERE for the Full Result from Round 7
CLICK HERE for the Race Facts
CLICK HERE for the championship positions after Round 7
Nr24 Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo LP600
Albert von Thurn und Taxis: “The start was quite good fortunately. I was a little bit scared about the Mercedes, which was quite up close and got a good start as well, so I was a little bit late on the brake, and went a little bit wide on the exit. The thing we were concerned about was the Porsche, as it has considerable high speed on the straight. My fear was that if the Porsche got a better start, it would be quite difficult to get past him, as we saw during the race, that even a faster car would have trouble overtaking. Fortunately we ended up first after the first corner and from then on I managed to get a little bit of distance from the field, which I was told to do by Nicky, otherwise he would not even take the car. I’m glad that I did so. I’m incredibly happy. For me, the pole position is something of great importance, and last year, I was at the front row here, and I was a little bit cheeky when we came here and we were saying that we wouldn’t settle for anything less than pole position, and then last night I was sitting in my bed, thinking ‘what an idiot you are, because you’re not going to make it’, and these kind of things haunt you. But I managed to do it, and I was incredibly pleased, and to do win a race when you start from pole isn’t something I’ve had an incredible amount of experience doing. You cherish these things quite a lot.
“For us drivers, the balance of performance isn’t 100% clear, how it works, because we’re no experts in the way the data is accumulated or what kind of things are taken into consideration, and there’s always a bit of bad talk in the paddock, complaining that the others have faster or slower cars...I think these results really show that there is a balance here, and that there’s some really good racing going on here.”
Nikolaus Mayr-Melnhof: “I was watching from the pits and I could see that he opened up a comfortable lead. I thought that the same thing would happen to me as it did last time, where he was left without any tyres. I got into the car and felt comfortable, better than I had all weekend, I hadn’t got into the rhythm. And Albert had pole whereas I only got 5th, which hit my ego a little bit. Then in the race, the car was really good. We could see that I could keep a good pace and keep the distance from the Ferrari. At the end, I could really feel the pressure and saw the gap coming down on the pit wall and I really had to push and struggle with the tyres. I’m so happy though. If you’re out there and driving at the front, you’re just listening to the car and you hope that you can bring it home and not disappoint the team. But the team did a perfect job and also Albert who made a great gap and handed me over a good car, he looked after it and didn’t ruin it, well done. I’m really happy.”
Nr50 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia
Federico Leo: “I did a good start. I got a good braking point in the first corner. We were all very close, but I managed to pass into 2nd. I tried to keep the gap with the Lamborghini but it was very difficult for us. In the last races in here and Navarra, it’s been very difficult for us to drive, because we have 105kg of weight more, for the BOP. I hope that they’ll change something. Francesco did a really good job. I also had to fight to keep position against the Porsche, which was very difficult. I tried to give Francesco a good car, who did a very good job. This win will give us some good points in the championship and we’re lucky that our rivals aren’t here as well. We were sad about our electrical problems at Navarra .
Francesco Castellacci: “Finishing in 2nd is good for us. I was trying to catch the Lamborghini, but it was really quick. The BOP hasn’t done the car much good since Navarra, even for the security of the car, because we have 105kg, 25 more than in Silverstone, and I think it’s too much for the car, for the tyres. Not so equal to the other cars. But we have AF Corse, which is a great team, and Ferrari is helping us a lot and gave us a very good car. We managed to get a good second place in these conditions.”
Nr15 Sainteloc Racing Audi R8 LMS
Jerome Demay: “I got a quite a good start. We managed to warm up the tyres during the formation lap, and as everyone was going down the inside, I went down the inside, and as it happened, I came out 7th.”
Dino Lunardi: “Jerome did a fantastic job at the beginning, his start was perfect. At the beginning, at the first few laps, he overtook a lot of cars, so afterwards, he saved his position, saved the car, the tyres, and when he gave me the car, the car was nearly perfect. It was possible for me to push a lot and to try to reduce the gap between the two cars in front of me. I was just a bit disappointed, I just wanted the race to last one more lap, just one more. Sainteloc did a fantastic job since the start of the season, and race after race, we’re increasing our performance. This result is thanks to the effort of the team and I want to say many, many thanks and congratulations to the whole team"