Slick work by AF Corse duo adds Ferrari to winners’ list
Ferrari joined Audi, BMW, Porsche and McLaren as race winners in 2012 when Toni Vilander (FIN) and Filip Salaquarda (CZE) claimed victory in an eventful Qualifying Race at the Slovakia Ring in round four of the FIA GT1 World Championship.
Thu 19.07.12, 5:05PM
Under overcast skies, the start was delayed due to oil left on the track on the formation lap by the Exim Bank Team China Porsche No.8 of Andreas Zuber (AUT).
The race eventually began under the Safety Car while cement dust was applied to several parts of the circuit where the Porsche had left its tell-tale oil traces.
Once released, the pack was led off by pole-sitter Stef Dusseldorp in the Hexis Racing McLaren MP4-12C. The Dutchman was immediately set upon by Vilander who came from fourth on the grid to lead the race by the end of the first green-flag lap.
Salaquarda completed the job after the pit stop sequence as the second-half of the race was run in heavy rain. The pair won by five seconds at the flag.
Tomas Enge (CZE), as he had done in the Qualifying Race at the opening round in France, ignored the sodden track to scythe his way through the field to secure second place alongside team-mate Albert von Thurn und Taxis (DEU) in the Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo No.24.
It was a stunning drive from Enge who took over the car in 13th place and was disadvantage by a sluggish pit stop. He was still ninth with 10 laps remaining.
He chased down Dutchman Yelmer Buurman (Vita4One BMW Z4 No.18) to grab second place on the final lap and had Salaquarda’s Ferrari in his sights at the finish. He was the fastest car on track in the wet – four seconds quicker than his rivals.
Buurman and Michael Bartels (DEU) filled the final position on the podium.
Fourth place went to the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Mercedes SLS AMG No.38 car of German pair Marc Basseng and Markus Winkelhock.
The No.9 Exim Bank Team Porsche of Mike Parisy (FRA) and Matt Halliday (NZL) finished a brilliant fifth after starting from the rear of the grid as a result of being allowed to repair the car during Parc Ferme after it was damaged in Qualifying.
Best of the Audis was the No.33 of Frank Stippler (DEU) and Oliver Jarvis (GBR) in sixth.
The Sunred No.10 Ford GT of Milos Pavlovic (SRB) and Matteo Cressoni (ITA), sent to the back of the grid following a technical infringement, was seventh.
The pole-sitting Hexis McLaren MP4-12C of Frederic Makowiecki (FRA) and Stef Dusseldorp (NLD) ran in the top three but slowed in the final stages and limped to ninth position at the finish with engine problems.
It was not such a good day for local boy Stefan Rosina and team-mate Darryl O’Young (CHN) who were caught out by the conditions and finished 13th in the second of the Reiter Lamborghinis.
What the teams say …
Toni Vilander (FIN), AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia No.3 (1st)
“The conditions were very tricky. Parts of the track were difficult because of the (cement) dust. I had a good feeling about the car even behind the Safety Car. When we got going I tried to find out where the grip was on the circuit and push when could. I just tried to keep my rhythm until the pit stop. We have some issues on the car which makes us quite slow in the pit stop. But the guys have worked hard and the stop went well. It must have been an exciting race for the spectators. I am very pleased for Ferrari and the team.”
Filip Salaquarda (CZE), AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia No.3 (1st)
“Toni (Vilander) started well, he took first position and he built a good gap to second place. After pit stop it was raining and I was a bit careful to start with. When it started raining heavier, the car felt really good and I was able to push harder and made a bigger gap so it worked out well for us. I want to thank Toni and the team for the great result.”
Tomas Enge (CZE), Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo No.24 (2nd)
“We have seen in Nogaro that the car is really good in wet conditions. Here, because everybody was on slick tyres in the wet, I saw that people were struggling to brake into the corners and turn in. I was just concentrating on making up differences and not make any mistakes. I kept my head down and kept pushing It’s a shame we had a problem with the pit stop and lost a few seconds there. We needed two more laps to maybe jump into first place but the first row for tomorrow’s Championship Race is fantastic.”
Albert von Thurn und Taxis (DEU), Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo No.24 (2nd)
“Tomas (Enge) was incredible just like in Nogaro. I was just hoping we would get some points really after a disappointing Qualifying. But this result prepares us nicely for tomorrow.”
Michael Bartels (DEU), Vita4One Racing Team BMW Z4 No.18 (3rd)
“For me it was a difficult start, I dropped from second position to P6. It was not so easy in the cockpit with the dust. It was difficult to stay on a good line because all the dust was in the cockpit and in my eyes. After a few laps it cleared and I could improve my pace. The team did a great pit stop, the fastest pit stop time after working all night so it was a really good effort.
“It was raining quite hard at one point. The lap times dropped to 2:20, apart from Tomas Enge who was driving like it was almost dry conditions. We have to keep working on making the car perform better in cooler conditions like today.”
Yelmer Buurman (NLD), Vita4One Racing Team BMW Z4 No.18 (3rd)
“Of course we want to win but like always I am very happy to be on the podium. It was tough out there on cold tyres because of the oil trace and then it was raining so it was difficult to feel the limits of the car. Two laps before the end the team came on the radio and said ‘Enge is closing in fast’.
“I looked in the mirror and didn’t see anything so I thought he must be closing really fast if he wants to catch me in two laps. He actually caught me in one lap and passed me. The team worked all night changing the engine so this is great for them.”
“I think we can be quite happy with the result of the Qualifying Race. To be honest P4 was not what I expected or what the team expected. The car was not too bad in the damp with the slick tyres, I was pushing quite a lot and the lap times were okay.”
“It is a good result, we’ve scored some good points and it is an exciting position to start from for tomorrow. If it is dry we might find it difficult, as we are slow on the straights, so I am going to hope for some rain tomorrow. Today it was getting more and more slippery, and you have to be careful, but I like those conditions.”
Oliver Jarvis (GBR), Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS ultra No.33 (6th)
“I think we are not the most competitive in the mixed damp conditions. When we go into full wets we are quite good, but when we are on the slicks in the wet, then we seem to struggle quite a lot, and we have seen it in past races.
“Unfortunately I think the best we could hope for was P6 with this race, we did a great job, the team did fantastic, and hopefully we can have a better race and better conditions tomorrow.”
Matteo Cressoni (ITA), Sunred Ford GT No.10 (7th)
“We are still very competitive, and today we pushed very hard. As a team, we have done a really good job over the last three weeks. We are working to improve the whole time and race by race we will see how that affects us.”
Frederic Makowiecki (FRA), Hexis Racing McLaren MP4-12C (9th)
“The car was not too bad in the wet conditions, but in the middle of my stint I had a problem with the engine, and that was why we started to lose a lot of time. We must try and understand what has happened, the car stopped in the last corner and I went over the line without any power engine. We are disappointed because it looked possible to finish second.”
Bernhard Mühlner (DEU), Exim Bank Team China Porsche, Team Manager
“Mike (Parisy) came from P15 to P7 and Matt (Halliday) from a net P7 to P5 at the flag, so from 15th to fifth is a good result for the team and we hope that from this starting position tomorrow we can get to the podium.
“Today the car was not only able to defend, but to overtake, so we have made some progress from where we thought we would be after practice.
“Matt was very fast in the rain. When it is raining, and we are out on slicks, we have a big advantage as we have the load over the rear tyres which help to generate heat and grip.”