Mercedes join winners’ circle with double win in Portugal
Having secured their first win of the 2012 season in the Qualifying Race, the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Mercedes team recorded a one-two in the Championship Race in Portugal.
Thu 19.07.12, 6:06PM
The No.37 Mercedes SLS AMG of Nicky Pastorelli (NLD) and Thomas Jäger (DEU) grabbed the win after a hard-fought battle with their German team-mates Marc Basseng and Markus Winkelhock.
Basseng and Winkelhock had taken the Qualifying Race victory the previous day to round out a perfect weekend for the Saxony-based team. It also meant that Mercedes became the fifth different brand to win a Championship Race in 2012 after Audi (France), Porsche (Belgium), McLaren (Spain) and BMW (Slovakia).
Pole-sitter Basseng led until the pit stop despite coming under severe pressure from Frederic Makowiecki in the No.1 Hexis McLaren before handing over to Winkelhock who rejoined just ahead of the sister Mercedes of Jager.
While the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport duo waged their private battle, Stef Dusseldorp, taking over from Makowiecki, emerged from the pit lane in the lead.
Jager eventually got passed the McLaren and Winkelhock to seal the win. The McLaren eventually finished third.
Basseng, the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport team manager, was delighted with the result.
“We have worked really hard this year on our strategy and particularly our pit stops and all the hard work is worth it when you have days like this,” he said.
“It was another great effort today by everyone involved in the team. I wasn’t expecting us to do so well here as we are disadvantaged by our straight line speed.
“But to finish one-two makes it a great weekend particularly with the first double victory for Mercedes in the Qualifying Race and now the Championship Race.
“We have also added to our lead in the teams’ championship so that is also very pleasing.”
Winkelhock admitted having mixed emotions in having finished second. “On the one side I am disappointed to finish second when we could have won the race but on the other I am really pleased for the team,” he said. “We scored really important points this weekend.”
Dusseldorp said that third was the best McLaren could have expected today as the Mercedes found better performance from their tyres in the hot conditions.
He said: “I was fighting against a stronger car in the beginning I could keep the gap quite small but at the end I was defending my position. Still, we are happy to be on the podium again.”
Peter Kox (NLD) in the Reiter Engineering Lamborghini No.25 grabbed fourth position with a daring move on Michael Bartels (DEU) in the No.18 Vita4One Racing BMW Z4 just before the flag.
O’Young said: “We lost a little bit of time on the pit stops which was a shame as Peter then had to spend time fighting with the Audis but he did a great job to get passed them and catch up with the front guys. I think with a few more laps we could have had a shot at the podium.
“The whole team did a fantastic job this weekend, especially with Peter’s excellent pass in the dying moments of the race, which was really aggressive but clean so we were happy with that.”
Bartels, who finished second in the Qualifying Race yesterday, had accepted a dare before today’s race. “I said I’d jump in the pool if we won the race but unfortunately I’m still dry,” Bartels revealed.
“We had a good car but it was difficult to overtake the McLaren and in the end I did a small mistake and dropped down to fourth place.
“It wasn’t the best weekend but we are still in the lead of the drivers’ championship. Now we take a little break and do our homework, come back and continue to fight for the title in the next races.”
There were some casualties at the start. As the pack charged down the main straight, there was contact at the first turn between Frank Stippler in the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi No.33, the AF Corse Ferrari No.3 of Toni Vilander (FIN) and Gregoire Demoustier (FRA) in the Hexis Racing McLaren No.2.
Stippler limped back to the pits with a right rear puncture and rejoined three laps down but Vilander retired the Ferrari with radiator damage.
“There was no space for five cars to fight for the corner,” Stippler said. I was pushed against the McLaren (No.2), this caused the puncture. I went into the pits after a slow drive round the circuit, replaced the tyre and I headed out again. Then on that same lap I spun again. Went into the pits and it was found I had broken suspension.
“I would have liked to stay out and try and earn some points for the team, but it was just too dangerous.”
Demoustier was able to continue but his co-driver Alvaro Parente was forced to park the car with six minutes remaining with engine problems.
Portugal’s Parente, looking to do well on home soil, said: “It wasn’t a good day for us. Gregoire received a slight contact from another competitor in the start, which delayed him and in the end finished our race.
“I was recovering some places and I was able to show a strong pace, which could lead us to a good result. The oil tank was broken after the first corner incident and I had to retired the car with no oil pressure.
“It’s disappointing, because I wanted to give a good result to the crowd and to my friends and family who were here supporting me, and this wasn’t the end that I was expecting, but that’s racing.”
Enzo Ide (BEL) and Francesco Castellaci who started the weekend with second place in Qualifying in the AF Corse Ferrari No.4, had eventful races. They finished 11th in the Qualifying Race and seventh in the main event.
“In Qualifying we had a good start on P1 and P2 but after a chaotic pit stop, with the Safety Car, we lost out on some positions meaning we started today’s race in P11 and P12,” Ide said.
“Tony (Vilander, Ferrari No.3) got smashed out on the first corner, I managed to keep going but then I struggled. We need to work on the car as the tyres don’t last long at all, it’s about nine laps then they start to degrade more than our competitors.
“At that point all we can do it defend, we can’t attack so if we start near the back we have a problem and there’s no chance to get to the front.”
Despite early promise, the Sunred Engineering Ford GT No.10 of Matteo Cressoni (ITA) and Milos Pavlovic (SRB) finished ninth. Cressoni was also caught up in the first-turn incident which affected his race.
“For the weekend in general we started quite well because we were competitive in the previous sessions, not like our experience in Slovakia,” he said.
“In the race today, unfortunately, we touched the Audi on turn one and after that we were last and we couldn’t do too much about it, but we finished in ninth so it could have been worse. The car is pretty good but moving forward we have some changes to make.”
The double race success also cemented ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s position at the head of the teams’ classification. They stand on 156 points from the Vita4One BMW on 112 and Hexis Racing on 105.
The result also moved Basseng and Winkelhock to second in the drivers’ points. The Mercedes pair are on 83 points, five behind the leaders Bartels and Buurman. Makowiecki and Dusseldorp are third on 82.