German team Fischer Racing celebrated their first win in the FIA GT3 European Championship in only their sixth race when Christoffer Nygaard (Ford GT) overtook Nicolas Armindo (Audi R8) on the last lap as they negotiated the backmarkers. Christoffer Nygaard and Florian Gruber celebrated their landmark win on the podium in traditional style. Christopher Mies in the Team Rosberg Audi R8 was the first driver across the line but was handed a 30-second penalty for causing an avoidable accident on lap 27. Round 5 winner Thomas Accary brought the Hexis Racing Aston Martin home in third place after Julien Rodrigues started the race in 12th. Their second podium finish of the weekend has given the French team a healthy lead in both the driver and team championships.
Round 6 - Weather: Cloudy Track: Damp / Drying
After heavy rain an hour before the second race of the weekend the decision was taken to start Round 6 of the 2009 FIA GT3 European Championship behind the safety car. After two laps the pace car pulled into the pitlane and on a damp Oschersleben track the 31 car field headed down to the first corner at racing speed. Pole position holder Frederic Makowiecki was struggling with his Hexis Racing Aston Martin and Marc Besseng took the initiative, diving down the inside of the lead car at the first corner to take the lead in the Muehlner Motorsport Porsche 997. Makowiecki now came under pressure from Claudia Huertgen in the BMW Alpina B6 and was soon ahead of the struggling Aston. She then quickly dispatched the leading Porsche as Bessang struggled to keep the Porsche on track, to take the lead for the Alpina team.
Huertgen started to open up a good lead as the Muehlner Porsche struggled with understeer and the pressure from the recovering Makowiecki who had the #26 Audi R8 of Christopher Haase and the #101 Morgan of Maxime Martin right behind. The Porsche washed wide and all three cars pounced, demoting Besseng from 2nd to 5th in quick succession.
The #4 Aston Martin was getting into its stride on the drying track and Makowiecki started to slowly close the gap to the leading BMW Alpina. Julien Rodrigues in the #3 Hexis Racing Aston Martin had moved up the order from 12th on the grid to 8th on lap 7 but was having to fend off the challenge of Duncan Huismann in the #37 Zakspeed Viper. On lap 8 Huismann followed the Aston along the main straight before going to the outside at the entry to Turn 1. The Viper went round the outside of the Aston Martin to take the place. Huismann was on a charge but it all came to nothing when the Viper was seen slowing on the track, the Dutch drivers race over just as the pit window opened.
Fourth placed Maxime Martin was another casualty just before the pitstops, the Morgan pulling off with smoke coming from the rear of the car to end a disappointing weekend for the former championship leaders.
Back at the front Frederic Makowiecki and Claudia Huertgen were taking it in turns to set the fastest lap of the race with the Aston closing up to the BMW Alpina. On lap 15 the gap was just 0.3 seconds and it looked to be a case of when, not if, the Aston Martin would take the lead. However the highly experienced German wasn’t going to be dislodged without a fight and for the next six laps the two cars were nose-to-tail in a brilliant display of racecraft by both drivers. Huertgen came into the pits to hand over to Csaba Walter on lap 21 while still in the lead.
Makowiecki stayed out to the last moment before handing over to Manuel Rodrigues and when the Hexis Aston Martin emerged from the pits, Rodrigues was in the lead of the race. Walter, who was now in second place, now had the Audi of Christopher Mies (#26 Phoenix Racing) right on his rear bumper and the #35 BMW Alpina B6 of Gilles Vannelet in front but one lap behind the leaders. Mies and Walter were nose to tail for three laps, with Walter struggling to find a way past Vannelet’s BMW Alpina. At the last corner on lap 27 the Audi tagged the back of the Alpina run BMW, tipping Csaba Walter’s car into a spin which ended with the Hungarian driver hitting the wall on the inside of the track, destroying the front of the car and also his chances of scoring the first podium in FIA GT3. Walter climbed out of the car and limped away to safety.
With the debris off the racing line the car was recovered under waved yellows, so the race could continue. Mies now lapped Vannelet’s BMW but Nicolas Armindo in the #32 Team Rosberg Audi was closing on the leading Audi as he in turn closed on Rodrigues in the lead Aston. On lap 29 Mies went down the inside of Rodrigues at Turn 2 to take the lead of the race, with Armindo following his example.
Further back Christoffer Nygaard was storming up the field in the Fischer Racing Ford GT. The Dane passed Jurgen Harring in the Muehlner Motorsport Porsche on lap 30 and quickly closed on the third placed Aston Martin as the race entered the final few laps. Meanwhile the leaders were encountering heavy traffic and as the lapped cars were concentrating on their own battles, the leaders trying not to trip over another car without losing a place to their rivals.
On lap 35 Christoffer Nygaard closed right up behind Manuel Rodrigues and at the last corner he saw an opportunity to move into a podium scoring position and dived down the inside of the Aston Martin. However Rodrigues closed the door and there was contact with the Aston Martin spinning, rejoining behind the #3 Aston of Thomas Accary.
Meanwhile the #26 Audi had been given a drive through penalty for causing an avoidable accident, which referred to the earlier incident involving the Alpina BMW Alpina B6 of Csaba Walter. For lap after lap the German refused to come in to serve his penalty and the Stewards decided to award a 30-second time penalty. This effectively put Nicolas Armindo in the lead but the French driver had to get to the finish line before the charging Fischer Racing Ford GT. The race entered the final lap, with Mies still at the front of the field with Nicolas Armindo and Christoffer Nygaard nose to tail but stuck behind a line of backmarkers. As the leading cars came out of the first corner Armindo tried to overtake a backmarker, which opened up a gap. Nygaard seized the opportunity with both hands and put the Ford down the inside and into the lead.
The cars crossed the line with Christoffer Nygaard winning the first FIA GT3 race for Fischer Racing, 0.5 seconds ahead of Nicolas Armindo in the Team Rosberg Audi R8. Thomas Accary took the final podium place to extend his and Julien Rodigues’ lead in the Driver’s Championship to 10 points and Hexis Racing’s lead in the Team Championship. The #26 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 of Christopher Mies and Christopher Haase was given a 30-second time penalty that dropped them back to 6th place behind the #4 Hexis Racing Aston Martin of Manuel Rodrigues and the #19 Muehlner Motorsport Porsche of Jurgen Haring. The Callaway Corvette of Jurgen Von Gartzen and Arnaud Peyroles was 7th and the final championship point went to the Matech GT Racing Ford GT of Walter Salles and Thomas Mutsch, which was a great result after the car had started from the back of the grid.
The next two races are in Portugal at the brand new circuit of Portimao in the Algarve on 12/13 September 2009.
CLICK HERE for provisional result from Round 6
CLICK HERE for championship points after Round 6
Result is provisional and subject to confirmation under the sporting and technical regulations