Report: Race 2 Report, Zandvoort 2011

Castellacci and Leo Become 2011 Champions as Haase and Ide take Dutch win

Francesco Castellacci and Federico Leo fought hard to bring their nr50 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia home in 4th place in the final race of the season to become the 2011 FIA GT3 European Champions. 18,000 Dutch race fans witnessd the final race of the 2011 FIA GT3 European Championship, which was won by the nr33 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 of 2009 Champion Christopher Haase and Belgian driver Enzo Ide. Ide secured his third win of the year, one more than any other driver this year, and finished 3rd place overall in the Driver's Championship in only his second full season of racing.

Brice Bosi and Dominik Baumann were second in the nr44 HEICO MOTORSPORT Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and with the nr45 car finishing 6th, the German team become the 2011 FIA GT3 Team Champions, leaping ahead of the Need for Speed Team Schubertand the Faster Racing by DB Motorsport outfits.

Third overall was the nr3 Graff Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG of Mike Parisy and Gregoire Demoustier. The 15-points confirmed Parisy as the 2011 Vice Champion, finishing the season 9-points behind the new Italian Champions.

The Michelin Award for the faster of the two champions was won by Francesco Castellacci, which will enable him to move up to the 2012 FIA GT1 World Championship.

Round 12
The large 28 car field was led into the first corner by Christopher Haase in the nr33 Team WRT Audi as Mike Parisy moved up to second in the nr3 Graff Racing Mercedes, overtaking the nr11 Gravity Charouz Racing Mercedes of Stefan Rosina at the first corner. Brice Bosi in the nr44 HEICO Motorsport Mercedes got a great start from 12th on the grid to end the opening lap in 6th place, ahead of the nr50 AF Corse Ferrari of Francesco Castellacci.

Maxime Martin in the nr9 LMP Motorsport Aston Martin DBRS9 was the first casualty after a collision at the start left the Aston Martin with a damaged radiator and ending a dismal weekend for the French team.

Meanwhile Christopher Haase had opened up a comfortable three second over his nearest rival as the next three cars of Mike Parisy, Stefan Rosina and Philippe Giauque were joined by the BMW of Nick Catsburg in a close fight for the minor podium positions.

The nr1 Prospeed Porsche of Maxime Soulet came into the pits and the Belgian driver clambered out as the Round 11 winning car retired with transmission failure.

As the pit window opened on lap 15 the leaders all stayed out but one lap later Castellacci brought the AF Corse Ferrari in to hand over to Federico Leo. The leaders stayed out for a couple more laps, with Haase pitting on lap 20 to hand over the driving duties to Enzo Ide in the lead Audi.

After the pitstops had finished it was Ide in the Belgian Audi Club R8 who held an 8.1 second lead over the nr3 Graff Racing Mercedes of Gregoire Demoustier and the nr36 Faster Racing by DB Motorsport BMW of Harrie Kolen. However it wasn't long before Kolen was being challenged by the nr44 HEICO Motorsport Mercedes of Dominik Baumann, who passed the nr4 Mercedes of Thomas Jaeger and the nr11 Gravity-Charouz Racing Mercedes of Leo Machitski. Baumann moved up into 3rd, passing the nr36 BMW with ease.

Machitski's race came to an end on lap 25 when a spin at T6 ended with a trip to the pitlane and retirement.

Meanwhile Championship leader Federico Leo was making up places, passing the struggling Harrie Kolen and the nr4 Graff Racing Mercedes to move into 4th place, securing the points needed to secure the title. Demoustier needed to catch and pass the nr33 Audi but Ide was moving ahead of the Frenchman and was 9.3 seconds ahead on lap 27. Demoustier had bigger problems as Baumann reeled in the nr3 Mercedes and swept past into 2nd on lap 31. The nr45 HEICO Mercedes had also been moving up the order and as the race drew to a close Christiaan Frankenhout had moved into 6th place and the combined score of the two HEICO cars was enough to move them ahead Team Schubert in the Team Championship race.

At the flag it was Enzo Ide won crossed the line to record his third win of the year, finishing 5.9 seconds ahead of Dominik Baumann and 18.8 seconds ahead of Gregoire Demoustier. Federico Leo finished a further 3 seconds back in 4th overall but the Italian was overjoyed and stopped to celebrate at the side of the track before returning to the pits to continue the celebrations with Francesco Castellacci and the rest of the AF Corse team. It was all smiles in the HEICO Motorsport pit as they celebrated becoming the 2011 FIA GT3 European Team Champions.

CLICK HERE for the provisional result of Round 12

CLICK HERE for the race facts

CLICK HERE for the provisional Championship Positions after Round 12

Francesco Castellacci - 2011 FIA GT3 European Champion / Michelin Award Winner
“I’m so happy to be here. I cannot believe it, that the Championship is finished and that I’m champion. The race yesterday was a bit tough, but we tried to manage the points over the weekend and not risk too much, and we made it. I would like to thank Ferrari and the AF Corse team did a great job all year and supported us from the beginning to end. The Ferrari 458 Italia is a really good car, built by Michellotto. All the people from Michelotto have been with us all year, working with us to develop the car race by race, which I think is now the strongest GT3 car that there is. Thanks to the whole team. Federico and I met at the beginning of the year and it was our first year in GT. We found ourselves so good together that we managed to win this title which is still unbelievable for me. I will look forward to go to the new GT1 World Championship, which I think will be a very good championship for the future, because I think that the future of GT is with GT3 cars, which are the best for the manufacturers and the factories. To compete in a world championship next year with 10 manufacturers will for me a dream come true.”

Federico Leo - 2011 FIA GT3 European Champion
“I don’t believe it yet. Maybe I’m not that happy yet because I still don’t believe it. I first want to thank Francesco, because we did the whole championship together. When you’re two drivers, his mistakes are my mistakes, his wins my wins, so thank you Francesco. We did a great job. Everyone says that Formula cars are a lot harder to drive, but to take the feeling with a GT is not as simple as you might think, as you have a lot more weight than a World Series car for example. But the feeling was very good. I have to thank the team as well, my engineer, who helped me to learn how to drive this car. I also have to thank all of AF Corse, Amato Ferrari, Michelotto guys and to my manager to bring me to this team, and Francesco. I have no more words.”

Christopher Haase
Nr33 Belgian Audi Club Audi R8 LMS

“I’m so happy because, you come back to the FIA GT3, and then you can win the race, it’s a pleasure for me, but I have to say really thanks to the team, because team WRT gave us a great car and they did such a great job, they worked very hard with the drivers and the car, and Enzo is a great driver; he’s improving, he wants to learn, he’s improving lap by lap, which is great. The goal was to win 3rd place in the Championship, we did it and we’re all happy, and I like that.”

Enzo Ide
Nr33 Belgian Audi Club Audi R8 LMS
“If they told me this would happen two years ago, I wouldn’t have believed them. For me it’s really great. This race was unbelievable. Christopher had a fantastic stint, it was unbelievable. He was very fast. Then we had a gap, and I managed to bring the car home in 1st place. This is really good. I want to thank the team for the whole season. I started with them and was really a rookie; I was just finishing my first year, and then I started with them and they believed in me. I will try to improve a lot in my driving skills. But for me, third place in this championship with such a high level is really great. I hope that next year I’ll be back here.”

Brice Bosi
Nr44 Heico Motorsport Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3
“We are happy. The target was to bring the team championship home. I had a pretty bad qualifying; I couldn’t find a free lap to do a time. My target in the qualifying was to do at least as fast as Dominik did, but that wasn’t the case. We started from 12th. I had a pretty good start. After that, it was all about managing the tyres and trying to give Dominik the best car possible, and that’s what I did. I was behind the little train in front of me which had a good race pace in the first stint, but I was checking my mirrors more than I was looking ahead, managing my tyres. Then I gave Dominik the car and he was lapping 2 seconds faster than the cars in front of him, and that’s what I was supposed to do and that’s what I did. We’re very happy to have the team championship in our pocket.”

Dominik Baumann
Nr44 Heico Motorsport Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3
“He gave me a really great car. Brice managed the tyres so good, and we found a really great setup for today, much better than yesterday’s. As he said, his target was to save the tyres, and then I could climb up the field. Now we’re in 2nd and we won the team championship, what more could you want?”

Mike Parisy
Nr3 Graff Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3
“It’s a good position for my team and myself, and Mercedes. I am quite disappointed because our target was the title. We knew that the weekend would be very difficult and we tried to push all the time. My new driver, Gregoire Demoustier did a very good job. It’s important in this championship to be strong together, and this weekend was fantastic, but we were 14 points away from the leader, and now we are a lot closer. But the season was fantastic, Graff racing did a great job, Mercedes too, so thank you everybody, to my sponsors. It’s been a great season, we are vice-champions, and we’ll see next year for the title.

"It was quite difficult. The two AF Corse drivers are very good, so you have to take in the drivers’ classification, so it’s always a play. You have to find a perfect pair to fight.

"We’re talking with Graff Racing and Mercedes and we’ll see about the future.”

Gregoire Demoustier
Nr3 Graff Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3

“I’m very happy, because this is my first podium in GT3. I’m a bit disappointed for Mike because we had hoped to help him win the championship, but it’s worked out like this and next time we’ll be better. The car was very good, Mike was very good, it was a very good weekend.”

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