FIA GT: Hezemans and Hart win in Italy

Carsport Holland took their first FIA GT Championship win today, after a thrilling see-saw race over 500 km of the Italian track of Monza. Their Chrysler Viper GTS-R, driven by Dutchmen Mike Hezemans and David Hart completed the 87 laps in 2 hours 43 minutes.

FIA GT: Hezemans and Hart win in Italy

Hezemans started from pole, pulling away ahead of Wolfgang Kaufman in the leading Freisinger Porsche and a charging Julian Bailey in the Lister Storm. He managed to maintain the lead for the first fifteen laps before Bailey overhauled him.

The Lister began to pull out a lead, until Bailey started to run out of fuel. "I had a small kick at the back chicane, and managed to get back to the pits. But the brakes were getting worse and worse, and I went off a couple of times," the Championship leader commented.

Regaining the lead after the pit-stops, David Hart, taking over from Hezemans, was being chased by Jamie Campbell Walter when they had a slight coming together, although both cars carried on their way. "I'd turned my mirrors away, because of the glare from the Lister's lights, so I didn't realize he was there," Hart explained. "He moved to the left, and I dived down the inside, and as he didn't see me, we clashed," Campbell-Walter agreed.

The Lister pulled back into the lead, passing the ailing Freisinger Porsche, which suffered from misfires and vibrations throughout the race, and looked sure of taking their third successive victory. However, ten laps from the end, gearbox troubles meant the car was stuck in second gear. Bailey nursed the car across the line in third place. "I had no option - I just went as fast as I could in second," he said. With neither Paul Belmondo Racing Vipers finishing in the points, Lister now lead the Team Championship, with Bailey leading the Drivers championship.

Hezemans was delighted with his first win, while Kaufman achieved his wish of improving on his 1999 3rd place. "I'll have to win next year," he commented. French veteran Bob Wollek was not surprised with their excellent finish. "I knew, from testing last year, that the Porsche could do a 1:47 or 1:48 at this track. If we'd been really lucky, we could have won."

The N-GT battle was every bit as good as the fight for the overall win, with a stunning dogfight between the Porsches of Tim Sugden and Michel Neugarten during their first stint. Victory had looked like going to the #50 G-Force Porsche 996 GT3, until their engine overheated, leaving their team-mates Neugarten and Smith to take the win. "You know, the car was fantastic, and we had a nice strategy. The first hour was fantastic," Neugarten commented. Sugden and O'Rourke took the second place for EMKA GTC, "We were very competitive today," Sugden commented. "The Pirelli tyres were so close to the Michelins this weekend - Pirelli are putting in a lot of effort, and the new tyres really made a difference." Valencia and Estoril winners Bouchut and Goueslard finished third, having made their way up from the back of the grid after problematic qualifying sessions.

The next round is at Silverstone, on May 14th.

Monza results

1 Hezemans/Hart, Viper 87

2 Kaufmann/Wollek, Porsche 911 87

3 Bailey/CampbellWalter, Lister Storm 86

4 Brun/Seiler, Viper 86

5 Lafon/Jarier,Viper 86

6 Martinolle/Lagniez, Viper 85

7 Sabatini/Spinelli/Villa, Porsche 911 84

8 Smith/Neugarten, Porsche 996 84

9 Rourke/Sugden/Day, Porsche 996 83

10 Bouchut/Goueslard, Porsche 996 83

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