FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP
Monza 2004
Linel TEX
28/03/2004
 
28/03/2004
Race Report
 
Gollin And Cappellari Win In Monza



After an action-packed first hour, a high-attrition race saw a Ferrari-dominated result in today's first round of the FIA GT Championship, giving Fabrizio Gollin a second consecutive win as a 29th birthday present. With his team-mate Cappellari, in the No. 2 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello, they were victorious ahead of Bobbi and Gardel, with the two GPC Giesse Squadra Corse Ferrari 575 M Maranello cars finishing their first-ever race in third and fourth. In N-GT, Stephane Ortelli and Emmanuel Collard took a fine win, finishing 7th overall in their Freisinger Yukos Porsche 996 GT3, chased by the GPC Giesse Ferrari of De Simone and Pescatori, with Proton Competition claiming its first ever podium in third.

Warm-up
In chilly but dry conditions, the No. 7 RML Saleen of Erdos and Newton set the fastest time in the morning warm-up, ahead of the pole-setting BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello of Gollin and Cappellari, with Tom Coronel in the Lister Storm third. In N-GT, the No. 62 GPC Giesse Squadra Corse Ferrari 360 Modena set the best time, ahead of the No. 50 and 99 Porsches.

Weather
A frosty morning in Monza was replaced by blue skies and sunshine, although temperatures remained low. 25,000 spectators came to the circuit, in the Royal Park of Monza, to see the first round of the 2004 LG Super Racing Weekend series.

BMS Scuderia Italia Takes Early Championship Lead
Reigning Champions BMS Scuderia Italia made a dominant start to the 2004 season, starting from pole and leading throughout the 87-lap race. The No. 1 and 2 cars pulled away from the rest of the field, followed only by the No. 5 Saleen.



Although Bobbi led early on, Gollin and Cappellari eventually took the win, finishing 44.7 seconds ahead of Bobbi and Gardel, who had been delayed by two extra pit stops and a spin. This result has given the team a healthy early lead, with 18 points, while Gollin and Cappellari have taken the lead of the Driver's Classification for the first-ever time. "It was almost a problem-free day for us," Gollin explained. "We are now leading the Championship for the first time, and I hope to stay there all season!"

The BMS Care Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello had looked like making it a one-two-three for the Ferrari 550 Maranello cars, until a spin into the gravel due to oil on the track dropped the No. 3 car of Bryner, Calderari and Livio down to fifth place.



Ortelli And Collard Claim N-GT Win For Freisinger
Inversing the positions from the final race of 2003, Stéphane Ortelli of Monaco, accompanied this time by his French team-mate Emmanuel Collard, took a comfortable win in the first round of the Championship, their Porsche 996 GT3 finishing in seventh place overall. They finished with a good margin over the second-placed car, the GPC Giesse Ferrari 360 Modena driven by Monza's October winner Fabrizio De Simone, sharing the car with Christian Pescatori.

"This is my first N-GT win in Italy," Ortelli explained. "Emmanuel did a very good job, and I think we are really strong together." In the classification, Freisinger Yukos Motorsport has a narrow lead of two points over GPC Giesse, with Proton Competition lying third. However, the No. 77 Freisinger Yukos car stopped on the track and did not finish, while the No. 99 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche of Maassen and Luhr, which was lying second for the first third of the race, had problems at Ascari, hitting the kerb and damaging the car. It later rejoined, but due to the time lost in the pits, was not classified.

Dream start for GPC Giesse Squadra Corse; JMB Racing in the points
New team, new cars - and points in both categories for GPC Giesse Squadra Corse. Team owner Gianpaolo Coppi was delighted with the performance of his team, which is now lying in second place in both the GT and N-GT categories of the 2004 Championship.



Although the Ferrari 575 M Maranello cars started from 9th and 10th on the grid, steady races and a high level of attrition brought them up to third and fourth, while the Ferrari 360 Modena of De Simone and Pescatori was a good second in N-GT. "We started the team on January 6th," Gian Paolo Coppi explained. "In three months we have built up a good team; we are really happy, and I want to thank all my staff, the mechanics, the drivers, for the confidence they have had in my project, as well as Pirelli and all the technical partners and the sponsors. It was a crazy project, but sometimes crazy things work."

JMB Racing, also starting with new cars and new drivers this weekend, saw one car go out at the start, with the No. 17 Ferrari 575 M Maranello stopping with engine problems. However, the No. 18 car of Bert Longin, Ian Khan and Christophe Pillon made steady progress and took two points for seventh place.

Difficult race for the Saleens, despite fastest lap for Vitaphone
Fastest in free practice, and third on the grid, the Vitaphone Saleen S7-R of Alzen and Bartels was extremely rapid in the early section of the race, with Alzen pushing hard, setting the fastest race lap of 1:44.708 and challenging the BMS Ferrari cars for the lead. But the promise shown throughout the weekend ended when the car went over the kerbs, cutting the cooling and oil lines and suspension, leaking liquid onto the floor and retiring on lap 10. The race was even shorter for the No. 4 Saleen, also run by KoNo.ad Motorsport, as Walter Lechner Jr was involved in a first-lap incident with the No. 14 Lister, which broke the yellow Saleen's wheel.

After setting the best time in the warm-up, the No. 7 RML Saleen ran strongly early on, but both the No. 7 and the No. 8 suffered from punctures, which delayed them significantly. However, the No. 8 car of Chris Goodwin and Miguel Ramos took the final point for eighth, while Erdos and Newton finished ninth in GT.

The Graham Nash Saleen had looked certain of a points finish, after a steady start with Villarroel and Becker, before the very fast Ruberti got in the car. But unfortunately first a puncture, and then a gear-box problem placed the car 10th in GT, and last of the fourteen classified cars.

Sixth place for Zwaan GTR Racing
Despite a number of problems, the Zwaans Chrysler Viper cars have improved steadily over the weekend, and with Christophe Bouchut and Marc Goossens sharing the car with team-owner Arjan van der Zwaan, a good race saw the objective of scoring points achieved. The car, which was that run by Roos in 2003, finished sixth. The second car stopped on the track, having run out of fuel due to a problem during the previous pit stop.



No Storms at the finish
Despite good early race performances for both the Lister Racing and Creation Autosportif Storms, neither made it to the chequered flag. The No. 14 Lister Storm had overtaken the No. 7 RML Saleen for fourth place, and was fighting for third, when a broken water hose stopped the car on lap 19. Jamie Campbell-Walter brought the No. 27 Creation Lister up to 5th place, but after the first pitl stop, his new team-mate Jamie Derbyshire, spun into the gravel.

First podium for Proton Competition
This race saw the first podium finish for long-time GT competitors Proton Competition, with German father and son team of Gerold and Christian Ried taking third place. They changed from a Porsche 911 GT2 to their current 996 GT3 car at the Brno round last year, and scored their first point in Monza last year. The final points went to the Italian team, AB Motorsport, with drivers Antonio de Castro, Renato Premoli and Bruno Barbaro.




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