Vitaphone duo take title in crazy race

PK Saleen duo Bert Longin and Anthony Kumpen ended a miserable season on a high by taking a shock win in the dramatic FIA GT Championship finale in Argentina, as Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini clinched the drivers' title in fifth place

Vitaphone duo take title in crazy race

Fabrizio Gollin and Mike Hezemans (Phoenix Corvette) finished a close second, but their title hopes depended on Vitaphone Maserati duo Bartels and Bertolini finishing outside the top six.

In the event their conservative fifth made Bartels and Bertolini champions for a second time, and gave the team their third straight drivers' crown.

Marcel Fassler and Ricardo Risatti had looked set to take a dominant win for Phoenix at the breathtaking new San Luis track, only for Fassler to crash out of the lead with just 22 minutes remaining - having controlled most of the race.

Pole-winner Fassler was beaten away by Larbre Saleen's Frederic Makowiecki at the start, with the Frenchman - in only his second FIA GT1 appearance and his first since Dubai 2006 - fending off Fassler's pressure over the opening laps before briefly pulling out a three-second lead.

But as the first stops approached, the Corvette calmly closed back onto the Saleen's tail, with Fassler slicing ahead on lap 18.

Mackowiecki stayed in touch, only for his co-driver Roland Berville to end Larbre's hopes of victory when he hit the wall on the first lap of his stint.

That left Fassler and Risatti with an enormous lead over their teammates Gollin and Hezemans, who had moved up from an early sixth place thanks to good pit work and other teams' problems.

They lost second to Kumpen's PK Saleen just before the final stops, but Hezemans was able to re-pass Kumpen's co-driver Longin early in the final stint.

That pass turned out to be for the race lead, as at the same moment Fassler ran wide at the final corner and clouted the wall, costing him and Risatti a comfortable win.

Hezemans therefore picked up the lead, but could not shake off Longin, who slipped back ahead with eight minutes to go and subsequently resisted huge pressure from the Dutchman to claim the victory.

The race then came to a bizarre end when the two leaders tangled amid traffic on the slowing down lap, with the victorious PK Saleen sustaining broken suspension and spinning into the wall. The stewards are investigating both drivers' actions.

With the second Vitaphone Maserati retiring after Alexandre Negrao hit the wall avoiding a GT2 car, Maxime Soulet and Christian Ledesma came through from the back of the grid - having lost their qualifying times due to a tyre infringement - to complete the podium for SRT Corvette.

Fellow back row starters Jose Maria Lopez and Esteban Tuero took fourth. Lopez tore through the field in the ageing ACA Argentina Ferrari in the first stint, getting as high as third before losing time with a slow pit stop.

Local duo Matias Russo and Luis Perez Companc (Advanced Engineering Ferrari) took a popular home win in GT2, but only after the AF Corse Ferrari slowed dramatically in the flying laps.

Until then, GT2 champions Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander had appeared to be on course to take class victory from the back of the grid following Vilander's qualifying crash. Pole-sitter Russo had pulled away early on, but his co-driver Companc lost the lead to the flying Vilander just before half-distance, only for the AF Corse car's huge lead to disappear in the final moments, allowing Russo and Companc to take the win after all.

Christian Montanari and Thomas Biagi completed the podium in the second AF Corse Ferrari, while Emmanuel Collard and Richard Westbrook's Prospeed Porsche was an early retirement.

Pos Cl Drivers Car Time 1. GT1 Longin/Kumpen Saleen S7 2:00:02.994 2. GT1 Hezemans/Gollin Corvette Z06 + 0.561 3. GT1 Soulet/Ledesma Corvette Z06 + 34.211 4. GT1 Lopez/Tuero Ferrari 550 Maranello + 1:42.310 5. GT1 Bertolini/Bartels Maserati MC 12 + 2:13.996 6. GT2 Russo/Perez Companc Ferrari F430 + 1 lap 7. GT2 Bruni/Vilander Ferrari F430 + 1 lap 8. GT2 Montanari/Biagi Ferrari F430 + 1 lap 9. GT2 Kirkaldy/Bell Ferrari F430 + 2 laps 10. GT2 Palttala/Forsten Porsche 911 GT3 RS (997) + 2 laps 11. GT2 Malucelli/Ruberti Ferrari F430 + 2 laps 12. GT2 Babini/Davies Ferrari F430 + 2 laps 13. GT2 Cadei/Moser Ferrari F430 + 2 laps 14. GT2 Mullen/Niarchos Ferrari F430 + 5 laps 15. GT2 Camathias/Balbiani Ferrari F430 + 6 laps 16. GT1 Fassler/Risatti Corvette Z06 + 10 laps 17. G2 Kuppens/Leinders Gillet Vertigo + 24 laps 18. GT1 Mackowiecki/Berville Saleen S7 + 26 laps 19. GT1 Negrao/Ramos Maserati MC 12 + 31 laps 20. GT1 Mazzacane/Basso Ferrari 550 Maranello + 34 laps 21. GT2 Collard/Westbrook Porsche 911 GT3 RS (997) + 46 laps 

shares
comments
Fassler takes pole in Argentina
Previous article

Fassler takes pole in Argentina

Next article

FIA GT figures laud San Luis track

FIA GT figures laud San Luis track
Load comments
The ex-IndyCar racer in "uncharted territory" of British GT team ownership Plus

The ex-IndyCar racer in "uncharted territory" of British GT team ownership

This weekend’s British GT finale will be a tense title showdown for some but, for those not in the championship fight, it’s a chance to end a challenging year on a high. In the latter camp is Paddock Motorsport's team owner Martin Plowman, whose 2021 season has been a rollercoaster ride of non-stop learning

National
Oct 15, 2021
The unpopular BMW stalwart built for the big occasion Plus

The unpopular BMW stalwart built for the big occasion

It has won most of the big prizes in endurance racing across its six years in service, but the BMW M6 GT3's key weaknesses meant only a devoted few teams persisted with running it. As it prepares to bow out at season's end, the teams and drivers involved in its story share the secrets of an unpopular winner

GT
Oct 7, 2021
The unwanted GT car that changed sportscar racing forever Plus

The unwanted GT car that changed sportscar racing forever

Had FIA GT boss Stephane Ratel had his way, the Maserati MC12 would never have been allowed to set foot in his series. It duly proved the class of the field that most had expected, but the Balance of Performance that its superiority spawned would keep GT1 battles tight and bring long-term benefits that sportscar racing enjoys today

GT
Sep 21, 2021
Why Britain's greatest sportscar was eclipsed on the world stage Plus

Why Britain's greatest sportscar was eclipsed on the world stage

The E-Type may be the most famous of all road-going Jaguars, but that didn't always translate into success on the track. After winning on its competition debut in 1961, motorsport success seemed an inevitability, but things didn’t turn out to be quite that straightforward

GT
Aug 6, 2021
Why the Jaguar E-type remains special at 60 Plus

Why the Jaguar E-type remains special at 60

It’s 60 years since the Jaguar E-type arrived and caused a sensation. As our resident racer Ben Anderson discovered when he got behind the wheel of two special racing versions at Brands Hatch, the thrill of driving them hasn't diminished over time

GT
Jul 31, 2021
The rise of a GT squad responsible for a unique 24-hour racing feat Plus

The rise of a GT squad responsible for a unique 24-hour racing feat

It's a significant achievement to win one 24-hour race in a year, let alone two, and with different manufacturers, but that's exactly what ROWE Racing did in 2020 at the Nurburgring and Spa. This weekend's German classic offers the DTM newcomer a chance of another unique double to add to its growing collection of accolades

GT
Jun 3, 2021
The new threat facing motorsport's greatest success story Plus

The new threat facing motorsport's greatest success story

The manufacturers were unconvinced – and even hostile – when Stephane Ratel launched GT3 in 2006. Now, 15 years on from its debut, they’ve sold more than 2000 cars and counting, but its continued expansion puts the increasingly globalised category at risk of losing its roots

GT
May 25, 2021
The Lamborghini teams plotting to stop a RAM raid on British GT Plus

The Lamborghini teams plotting to stop a RAM raid on British GT

With the Silver pairings that dominated 2020 now banned, Mercedes pair Yelmer Buurman and Ian Loggie could be in the box seat after winning last year's Pro-Am crown. But a swarm of Lamborghinis, with the defending outright champion among them, will ensure they face tough opposition

GT
May 21, 2021