Report: Race 2 Report, Algarve 2011

Audi Takes Advantage of Safety Car Period to Score First Win of 2011

Enzo Ide took the chequered flag in the Belgian Audi Club Audi R8 LMS to score a surprise win from 14th on the grid in Round 2 of the FIA GT3 European Championship.  The Safety Car was deployed for an accident and Ide's co-driver Greg Franchi was able to dive into the pits a lap earlier than most of the grid as the pitlane opened just as he passed the pit entrance.  This catapulted Ide to the front of the field, a position he held until the chequered flag, despite some intense pressure from Francesco Castellacci in nr50 AF Corse Ferrari 458.  Castellacci, and co-driver Federico Leo were able to take their first podium place after the car was repaired overnight after the crash in qualifying.  Third place went to the Heico Motorsport Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG of Brice Bosi and Dominik Baumann when Baumann overtook Nikolaus Mayr-Melnhof in the Reiter Lamborghini twos lap from home.

With the nr20 MTECH Ferrari 458 of Luca Pirri and Paul Rees and the nr36 DB Motorsport BMW Z4 of Harrie Kolen and Nicky Catsburg the only cars absent from the grid due to damage sustained earlier in the weekend, 26 cars lined up to take the start with the nr3 Graff Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG of Mike Parisy on pole position.  At the start the nr9 Team LMP Aston Martin of Maxime Martin made up one place from 4th by passing the nr50 AF Corse Ferrari of Federico Leo.  The nr 25 Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo of Albert von Thurn und Taxis was another car that fell back on the first lap from 5th to 13th after a spin.

Parisy led the way from the nr21 MTECH Ferrari 458 of Matt Griffin, who was closely followed by Martin in the Team LMP Aston.  The 4th placed car of Tomas Kostka, the nr11 Gravity-Charouz Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS landed in the gravel at T9, promoting the nr44 Heico Motorsport Mercedes of Brice Bosi to 4th, which was closely followed by Leo in the AF Corse Ferrari.

On lap 12, Round 1 winner Abdulaziz Al Faisel was making up some places from 18th on the grid and was challenging the nr4 Graff Racing Mercedes of Gary Hirsch.  Hirsch overtook the struggling nr 13 Fischer Racing Ford GT of Markus Palttala in T1 and Al Faisel tried to overtake the Ford into T4.  Al Faisel and Hirsch collided, with both cars damaged beyond recovery.  The safety car was deployed to recover the stricken cars.  The FIA Stewards penalised Al Faisel after the race for the incident and will have to take a five grid position drop at the next event.

With the Safety Car on track the field lined up behind.  As the train passed the pit entrance the Pitlane Window opened and, in a move that changed the race completely, Reiter Engineering and Belgian Racing Club called von Thurn und Taxis and Greg Franci in for their mandatory stops as they passed the entrance to the pitlane while the rest of the field continued to circulate behind the Safety Car. At the end of the next lap all but one car came into the pits and rejoined behind the nr33 Audi, now with Enzo Ide behind the wheel and the nr25 Reiter Lamborghini of Nikolaus Meyr-Melnhof.    

THe race resumed on lap 18 with Meyr-Melnhof coming under pressure from Dominik Baumann in the nr44 Heico Mercedes, who in turn was being caught by Francesco Castellacci in the nr50 AF Corse Ferrari.  Castellacci moved ahead of the Mercedes on lap 22 and then two laps later passed the Lamborghini for 2nd at the first corner.  Castellacci then set off after the leading Audi and within two laps was less than a second behind.  The Reiter Lamborghini was also under pressure from the Heico Mercedes and two laps from home Baumann overtook Meyr-Melnhof to secure the final podium slot.

At the front Enzo Ide soaked up the pressure and defended his lead at every turn from the attentions of Castellacci's Ferrari.  The Belgian driver took the chequered flag to take his first international race win in only his second full season of racing. 

After finishing second in Round 1, ten championship points for 5th place was enough to give Csaba Walter and Claudia Huertgen a one point Championship lead over Enzo Ide and Greg Franchi and the Need for Speed Team Schubert a healthy lead in the Team Championship.  The next event is at Silverstone in the UK on 4th/5th June.

CLICK HERE for the provisional result of Round 2

CLICK HERE for the Race Facts

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