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Qualifying races over, 24 Hours of Spa up next

by Nathan Heywood
Saturday, July 31, 2010

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FIA GT1 World Championship
Qualifying Race

The Dutch pair from Mad-Croc Racing, Jos Menten and Xavier Maassen, took their first victory in the FIA GT1 World Championship Qualifying Race after leading from Pole to the flag in the one-hour long race.  The second Mad-Croc Corvette hit the nr 22 Sumo Power Nissan and came back into the pit with a left rear puncture, which was to prove something of an omen for the marque with a further Corvette, 14 Phoenix Racing, also suffering deflated rubber.

The Maserati’s, having been quick in the wet, couldn’t produce the goods as the circuit dried in qualifying. The Vitaphone cars both ended well down the grid from where many had been expecting them to be and the 1 car capped a disappointing weekend with a shunt, pitted damaged on Lap 2, never to be seen again.

Maassen led, with Zonta close behind, for the remainder and only a visit into the tires at Blanchimont by Roman Grosjean’s 6 Matech Ford GT on the last lap livened things up a bit. Post-race scrutineering revealed a fuelling irregularity with the 13 Phoenix Racing Corvette and the car was stripped of its third place finish.

FIA GT1 World Championship
Championship Race

A damp and overcast warm-up saw the cars losing grip on the exit to L’eau Rouge and sliding around in various parts of the track. Maybe this is why the 11 pole-sitter chose discretion as the better part of valor, by not posting a time after just two exploratory laps.

Come the race; the track had dried, the cloud had cleared and the sun had come out, making for humid conditions and, hopefully, some ‘interesting’ racing.

After being beaten into second at La Source by the 25 Lamborghini; the Qualifying Race-winning Mad Croc-Corvette No.11 of Xavier Maassen came under pressure from the sister 24 Lamborghini, allowing a gap to develop, before regaining the lead into Les Combes on the sixth lap.  It was not to last as the ‘vette was forced to retire the lead after 20 minutes, on Lap 8, after developing a right rear puncture.

The 24 Lamborghini of Kox and Haase inherited the lead, after passing its sister car on Lap 6, before itself retiring after stopping at Turn 15 under the Safety Car cause by the 40 Ford GT stopping in a dangerous spot at the top of L’eau Rouge. Four Laps under yellows saw the 5 Matech Ford GT of British Driver Richard Westbrook take the green flag and hold the lead for two laps before Zonta in the 25 Lamborghini re-took the lead after going to the outside in Turn 1 and getting a run on the Ford GT down the hill. 

Smoke pouring from under the bonnet of the third placed 22 Sumo Powered Nissan GT-R, on the penultimate lap, disrupted the four-car train dicing for the places. Leaving the spoils to the first-placed Zonta and Kechele in the Lambo, a nice first win for the car; Heger and Muller placed an excellent and somewhat unexpected second in the Triple H Maserati MC12; and steering home a fine third was the Westbrook/Mutsch partnership in the Matech Competition Ford GT.

Incidents and accidents in a fine race under some fine weather at Spa-Francorchamps. A fine warm-up to the 24 hours of Spa that follows later this afternoon.

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