2010 FIA GT1 Round 8 - Navarra

BY Burnpavement

A double top for Reiter Lamborghini in Spain!

Photos: SRO Media

Lamborghini completed a double at Navarra with victory in the Championship Race to add to their earlier Qualifying Race success. Ricardo Zonta and Frank Kechele in the No.25 Reiter Lamborghini recorded a lights to flag win to collect 33 points for their weekend's work. Their victory margin at the end of a pulsating hour's racing was over 11 seconds. Second was the Hexis Aston Martin No.9 of Fred Makowiecki and Yann Clairay with the Sumo Power Nissan GT-R No.22 of Jamie Campbell-Walter and Warren Hughes third.

Ricardo Zonta had a great start as the lights went green for the Championship Race but it was Jamie Campbell-Walter who broke through the ranks to clinch second. Behind them, things went horribly wrong for a lot of cars and after the mayhem had subsided, the SRT Nissans and Triple H Maserati were the main victims of the carnage.

Longin, Kox, Huisman, Hirschi and Wendlinger did not even complete one lap, while Ara came in after one lap. Pier Guidi and Westbrook got together not much later, with Bouchut ending up spinning due to a defensive maneuver to avoid the Maserati and the Ford, with the three cars dropping to the back of the 15 cars strong field. To make matters worse, it soon began to rain but fortunately it was just a drizzle and no immediate action was required from the teams. Campbell-Walter however was unable to retain second position and was overtaken by Makowiecki and Martin soon after, the Aston Martin driver setting his sights on the Lamborghini that was now leading by just over a second.

When the pit window was opened after 25 minutes, only 13 cars were left in the reckoning, but these 13 cars that were still out on the track fought some good battles. Just half a second separated Campbell-Walter and Martin for third and the gap between sixth and eighth was just a mere second. For Ricard Zonta, he was comfortably leading the pack as he pitted in early. Just behind Zonta were Campbell-Walter and Bartels who also came in early for their pit stops. One lap after, the No.25 Reiter Lamborghini driven by Frederic Makowiecki made his stop, Yann Clairay rejoined the race just in front of the Lamborghini, but Kechele on warmer tyres blasted through into the lead as both cars entered turn 1.

Andrea Bertolini and Michael Bartels were also given a present by their championship rivals after the pit window had closed. After escaping a near collision in the pit, the No.2 Maserati and No.5 Ford GT were busy fighting each other, and the two did not notice that Alex Margaritis had closed the gap. Margaritis passed Thomas Mutsch’s Ford GT and was looking at overtaking the Vitaphone Maserati MC12 of Enrique Bernoldi when Mutsch ran into the back of the Corvette and in the process, took a chunk out of the Ford GT's front and sent the Corvette into a spin and into ninth. Mutsch eventually retired from the race.

For Frank Kechele, he was holding on to his lead and after 25 laps he was well over 5.5 seconds clear of Yann Clairay. Warren Hughes was still in third, over six seconds behind Clairay, but the Nissan GT-R driver was now being pressured by Tomas Enge. As for Bartels, he lost one position on lap 28 when Nicky Pastorelli passed by him, but with Enge ahead of the Maserati, they were still on course in increasing their championship lead.

Clairay on his part, was unable to challenge Kechele and the gap between first and second slowly widened. Hughes and Enge closed in on Clairay, but ran out of time to muscle their way into second. After 37 laps, Frank Kechele took the second win for Reiter at Navarra while Yann Clairay did just enough to keep Hughes and Enge behind him to secure second place.

With two rounds remaining, Andrea Bertolini and Michael Bartels now have 128 points. Thomas Mutsch is second in the championship standings with 95 points and thanks to a double win at Navarra, Frank Kechele is now in third place with 83 points.