Vitaphone and Prospeed win the Budapest City Challenge
Sunshine, spectators and a thrilling race ! There was suspense all the way to the chequered flag in the Budapest City Challenge, watched by over 15,000 spectators at the Hungaroring today. The race proved to be truly action-packed, to the delight of the crowds, who were treated beforehand to a massive autograph session down the pit lane and a driver parade.
In GT1, after an incident-packed race, Vitaphone Racing Team inherited the win after the K plus K Motorsport Saleen S7R, which crossed the line first, was excluded following post-race scrutineering for failing the airbox test. In GT2, Prospeed Competition’s Westbrook and Collard fought from the back of the grid to claim the victory for their nr 60 Porsche 997 GT3 RSR.
VITAPHONE INHERITS BUDAPEST CITY CHALLENGE WIN
The last time the FIA GT Championship raced at the Hungaroring, in 2006, the Zakspeed Saleen emerged victorious. This weekend, in the Budapest City Challenge, it looked as if Czech team K plus K Motorsport and their Saleen S7R would repeat the feat. However, the car was excluded after post-race scrutineering. This left Vitaphone Racing Team to inherit the win, their second victory of 2009 after Adria. Bartels had already been delighted with second place, especially considering the 80 kg success ballast the nr 1 Maserati MC 12 was carrying at the Hungaroring. “If you’d told me before the race that we’d finish with a heavy car, with 80 kg extra ballast, I would laugh and say we’d have no chance. In the end, I think Andrea and myself we have so much experience to carry the car home and collect the points. After not such a fantastic weekend for the whole Vitaphone team at Spa – apart from 2nd place for the third car – we’ve come back with a very strong result and we’re leading both championships again. I was very happy when I started my stint to see the full grandstands down to the first corner!”
Bartels and Bertolini now lead the GT1 Drivers classification with 41 points, four ahead of Hezemans and Kumpen. Xavier Maassen is third, with Longin and Ruffier fourth. In the Teams classification, Vitaphone has a good lead of 19 points, ahead of Pekaracing and Luc Alphand Aventures.
The nr 33 Vitaphone Racing Team DHL Maserati MC 12 of Alessandro Pier Guidi and Matteo Bobbi, originally third, moved up to second after the race. The car ran strongly throughout, leading the race during the closing stages, but dropped back after reporting heavy vibrations. “I’m very happy. My comeback in the championship is very nice for us,” Pier Guidi said. “I hope to get a better result in Portimao and to win a race. Until the middle of the last stint, the car had been very fast and was perfect and I’d like to thank the team.”
Qualifying third, and fourth across the line, was the nr 8 Sangari Team Brazil Corvette Z06, driven by Enrique Bernoldi and Roberto Streit, who claimed the final podium place after the exclusion of the nr 14. Bernoldi made an excellent start and took the lead, chased closely by the nr 2 Maserati and the nr 14 Saleen. On lap five, there was contact between the three cars , which saw the nr 2 retire and the nr 14 drop back; the nr 8 continued although it had suffered damage, which later delayed its pit stop due to difficulties with the refueling. The Stewards later decided that Alex Müller had caused an avoidable accident; he will have a drop of five grid places on his next race.
Bernoldi and Streit therefore claimed their first points finish and first podium in the FIA GT Championship, a great result for the new team.
The two Maserati MC 12 cars were followed by a quartet of Corvettes, the nr 8 Sangari car being followed home by the nr 19 Luc Alphand Aventures car, the nr 4 Pekaracing car and the nr 3 SRT car. Finishing fifth, Kumpen and Hezemans have lost the Championship lead to Bertolini and Bartels; however, their nr 4 car will be able to lose some weight for the next round in Portimao, while the nr 1 Maserati will be carrying the maximum weight.
Seventh, and leading 2010 generation GT1 car, was the nr 40 Marc VDS Racing Ford GT. “It was quite difficult. Renaud took the first stint and had a reasonably good start. But then we lost about 40 seconds at the pitstop because the wheel nut got stuck into the other wheel with the wheel gun, so it took us quite a lot of time to get it out and to put the wheel on. For the rest it was okay, we got to the end, but we’ve still got to improve.”
The final point in the revised results went to K plus K Motorsport; the nr 18 Saleen of Adam Lacko and newcomer Max Nilsson finished 8 laps down after suffering a loss of brake liquid.
PROSPEED VICTORIOUS AT THE HUNGARORING
Belgian team Prospeed Competition have had mixed fortunes in Hungary. Fastest in qualifying, the nr 60 Porsche 997 GT3 RSR lost its times after the car failed post-qualifying scrutineering due to airbox problems. Starting from the back of the grid, Richard Westbrook and Emmanuel Collard climbed back up the field, overtaking the nr 50 AF Corse Ferrari on the very last lap to claim a fine win around the 4.381 km Hungaroring. “It was one of those races you just want to be part of and it was a pleasure driving every lap,” Westbrook commented. “The team set up the car perfectly. I thought we deserved to be on top all weekend, the team have been on top form and we’ve been so hungry to close the gap to the nr50 car and we’re all delighted.” After bad luck in Oschersleben and Spa, the nr 60 car was light this weekend, with only 5 kg success ballast to add to their 50 kg crew ballast.
The Championship leaders, Bruni and Vilander, could not respond with their much heavier car. “The Porsche was so fast and it was very hard for us to fight with them since the beginning of the first stint,” Bruni said. “Our car with 100 kg is a bit difficult. But we were second, not last, so we score points, and we have three races left. You never know what can happen in racing !” The reigning Champions have a two-point lead in the Drivers classification over Collard and Westbrook, while both Prospeed and AF Corse are tied on 52 points in the Teams points, giving Prospeed an advantage on the number of wins.
After a strong race, BMS Scuderia Italia finished third with the nr 77 Ferrari 430 GT2. The team, which switched to Pirelli tyres from Spa, ran well throughout, and could have finished higher if not for a long pit-stop with a wheel problem. “We’re happy because we’ve scored some points, after scoring only 5 points in the first 4 races,” Malucelli commented afterwards. “But we are also cross as we lost second place after the pitstop !”
The second Prospeed Porsche, driven by Darryl O’Young and Marco Holzer, was a strong fourth, ahead of the nr 51 AF Corse car of Barba Lopez and Cadei. The two CRS Racing Ferrari cars finished sixth and eighth, separated by the nr 95 Pecom Racing Team Ferrari.
The GT2 results remain provisional pending anti-doping controls.
PEREZ COMPANC WINS CITATION CUP IN BUDAPEST
The Citation Cup for gentlemen drivers was back in action in Budapest, after missing the Total 24 Hours of Spa. A close result saw Luis Perez-Companc take the trophy, finishing ahead of points leader Chris Niarchos and Trackspeed’s David Ashburn. “It was a good race. I made a few mistakes in my stint. I spun and there we lost 2 positions. After that the race went okay. Matias did a really good job, the team too. I’m really happy. The races I’ve finished, I’ve always finished on the podium, the first two in GT2 and here with the Citation Cup. I really like this circuit. I haven’t raced here before, but this weekend’s been really good.”