Magny-Cours, April 2002 - Laurence’s Surprise
The 2002 FIA GT season was something of a classic, with outstanding
races at four of the venues that year – perhaps none better
than the opening round at Magny-Cours, if only for its surprise
value. It was a real ‘turn up for the books’.
A couple of
fascinating hours in the company of Laurence Pearce on Friday of
last week, December 10 (originally with just with the intention
of a Lister pre-2005 report), provided such a wonderful insight
into Round 1 in 2002, we had to bring you the tale… The ‘Lister
2005’ feature will be later in the week.
we can tell the story, can’t we? Enough time has gone by,
hasn’t it?” asked Laurence. Oh yes…
agreed that Nicolaus Springer would drive with Jamie in the number
14 car for the season, with me engineering the car.”
The rest of
the GT world then decided that there was no way that JC-W / Springer
were going to win a race in 2002, but some scheming was going on
in Leatherhead, the Pearce brain was working overtime, and some
unusual strategies were being planned for the number 14 car.
At that time,
virtually every race, for every GT-class car, was a two-stopper:
in 2004, we’ve seen that a number of races demand that the
cars stop three times, but life was simpler two or so years ago.
Race for an hour, stop for fuel and a driver change, race for an
hour, stop for fuel and a driver change (typically with tyres each
time too), race for an hour, chequered flag.
the canny Mr. Pearce knew that his Lister Storms were very fuel
efficient – even more so with Nicolaus at the wheel (waiting
to drive the middle stint, right).
started the race, obviously, and he drove for just over an hour:
he had a lead of a few seconds at the point when the other top cars
pitted before him. He was the last to stop, and we sent Nicolaus
out with new left side tyres and a full fuel load. From memory,
he stayed in the car for about 35 minutes or so, losing a little
time to the leaders and dropped down to fifth.”
Springer had been conserving tyres and fuel, during his 22 lap stint….
slipped to seventh on the road, after the car’s second stop,
but then he began the charge.”
It was after
this race that Laurence called his no.1 “the best GT driver
in the world,” but it wasn’t just Campbell-Walter skill
that ensured the win.
that stop, I did the fuel calculations (based on the amount we’d
had to put in at the two stops) – and realised that we only
needed to put in five litres! So the question was, when would we
put the five litres in? Everyone seems to think that you should
add it at the end – but there’s no good reason why you
should do that.
Jamie the signal to pit with about 20 minutes to go. Everyone else
thought that we were going to have to add a significant quantity
of fuel. Kumpen was slowing down during his last stint, while Mike
Hezemans was laughing his socks off before he got in the car to
finish the race…. “
Anthony Kumpen and Mike Hezemans after the event revealed that the
Carsport team had been well and truly out-thought in this one.
didn’t push for the first five laps because I was not paying
attention to the Lister and that was a big mistake.”
I came out of the pits, after the stop and go (lap 35), we were
fourth. I managed to catch and pass Terrien. When the team said
to me that I was in first position so I didn’t push. I slowed
down by two seconds a lap once I was past him and no one on the
team noticed the Lister!”
Back to the
#14 car, and it’s splash and dash, on lap 97, of 108.
Jamie over the radio – that he had to switch the engine off,
but I told him to keep his foot on the clutch, ready to go. The
car was stationary for two and a half seconds! The engine had barely
stopped going round when Jamie punched the button, and with the
car in gear, he let the clutch up and was gone. The other teams
couldn’t believe it!
cost 28 seconds, so we were still 12 seconds ahead – and the
Dunlops were still in good shape. By the time I got back to the
pit wall, I discovered that Mike Hezemans was still going slowly
– they hadn’t told him what had happened. We’d
taken them all by surprise!
Springer turned to me and said, ‘I don’t believe this,
we’re going to win. Laurence, you’re ******* mega!’
my best win ever. We’ve won at Magny-Cours every year except
2003, when the throttle cable broke, so that track has special memories
– but the best were from 2002.”
was an unbelievable race, everything went just right. Laurence Pearce
said on the radio ‘you need to have 40 seconds to stay in
front’ so I gave him 52. The team did a fantastic job in the
pit stops and the car was unbelievable. I was almost able to do
a qualifying lap on every lap. Today I didn’t make a mistake
all race long. I had to be ruthless with the back markers and I
had to take more risks than anyone else, but that is why I was able
to build up such a lead.” (helped by Carsport’s
confusion and dawdling).
lap on every lap - one reason why the 2002 Magny-Cours race was
such an exciting one. No conserving anything, just going for it.
“Driving with Jamie has helped me immensely and the Dunlop
tyres have helped as well. The team is concentrating on me, which
helps me a lot, and I am driving with Jamie who is one of the greatest
drivers out there.”
By the end of
that 2002 season, canny old Laurence very nearly turned Nicolaus
Springer into an FIA GT Champion: wins at Brno and Enna were classics
too, although the Prodrive 550 began to show real form before mid-season,
racking up three in a row for Deletraz and Piccini – but it
was the steady Bouchut who took the crown for Larbre’s Viper
at Estoril, JC-W having been carved up by Andrea Piccini at the
previous race at Donington Park. There was too much to do at Estoril,
third place for #14 leaving the unlikely pairing two and a half
points behind the Frenchman (who’d conveniently ‘dumped’
his partner David Terrien). It was still an amazing year for the
team formerly based at Leatherhead.
for 2005 soon….
1 14 GT
CAMPBELL-WALTER / SPRINGER Lister Storm 108 152.694
2 3 GT HEZEMANS/KUMPEN Chrysler Viper 108 -22.552 152.376
3 1 GT BOUCHUT/TERRIEN Chrysler Viper 108 -36.601 152.179
4 4 GT CAPPELLARI/GOLLIN Chrysler Viper 107 150.633
5 2 GT ROSENBLAD/VOSSE Chrysler Viper 107 150.554
6 23 GT DELETRAZ / PICCINI Ferrari 550 Mar 106 149.447
GT Driver Points 2002
1 Christophe Bouchut 4 4 6 4 6 20 2 3 49
2 David Terrien 4 4 6 4 6 20 2 2 48
3 Nicolaus Springer 10 3 10 1 6 2.5 10 4 46.5
4 Jamie Campbell-Walter 10 3 10 1 6 2.5 10 4 46.5
5 Andrea Piccini 1 10 10 10 10 41
6 Jean-Denis Deletraz 1 10 10 10 10 41
To Jacquie Groom.