Bahrain GT Festival – Race 2
A cracker of a 35 minute
race on Friday morning began with 43 cars on the grid. The parts
for the Stealth and Tech 9 GT2 car were unfortunately not delivered
in time for either car to take the start but both would be ready
to go for Race 3. The Wieth Ferrari was back in rude health, Hubert
Haupt lining up in 43rd place on the grid. Interesting…
Sadly absent was the
Team Tiger Marcos, the car suffering a broken rear wishbone after
contact at the start of race one – with no spare available
it’s the end of the meeting for Beighton and Finnemore.
from the back of the grid with the yellow 550 was the Team Jaz Porsche
of Paul Mace, the car having been successfully refettled after serious
suspension damage yesterday.
As for the race itself,
it turned into a titanic battle at the front between David Brabham
in the #8 Coopers Ferrari 550 and Dominic Dupuy in the#1 DDO Saleen.
Brabs would lead the race for all but three corners, but his lead
only once stretched to more than a full second and was more often
just a couple of tenths.
From the start there
were several cars looking to make rapid progress. Shaun Balfe powered
up the inside to gain a couple of slots at the front of the pack
in the Mosler, but the most spectacular gains were being made by
Hubert Haupt, up to 11th place after the first lap! Renaud Kuppens
was also moving up, the Gillet Vertigo up to eighth place from 12th
after lap one.
Thierry Stepec was an
early retirement, a blown engine looking likely to finish the #38
Olivier Baron Porsche’s meeting.
Lap two and
the Wieth Ferrari was now up to sixth place, just behind another
excellent battle between the #12 Viper of Frederic Dedours and the
#35 JMB Ferrari 360 of Sergey Zlobin, the Russian having another
In GT2 the Toyota Supra
was going superbly, up to tenth overall in the hands of Jean- Christophe
Ravier, the Supra’s 550bhp three litre bi-turbo straight six
proving very handy on the long straights of the Bahrain International
Circuit. It’s fine run was sadly ended by a stub axle failure,
but it would be fixed for Race 3.
In GT3 there was another
fine battle developing, the US Carworld Viper of Roger Growels crossing
swords with Phillippe Charriol in the #68 Diablo. A race long three
way tussle was won, finally, by the evergreen Fabien Giroix in the
#58 First Racing Porsche.
At the front meanwhile
Haupt’s mercurial progress continued, with the yellow and
green Wieth 550 grabbing third place out of turn two at the start
of lap 4.
The GT2 scrap was immediately
behind this battle, with Zlobin leading Lars Erik Nielsen’s
Farnbacher Racing Porsche and the Rollcentre Mosler. Shaun Balfe
was closing on the 911 and soon powered by, easily pulling away
in a solid seventh place.
Further back down the
order Aaron Scott was having a fine old time in the Morgan, up to
20th overall and closing fast on a gaggle of GT3 and GT2 cars ahead:
he would later pass four on a single lap, the Morgan performing
magnificently in his hands, climbing as high as 14th overall before
tyre troubles interrupted his charge (Dominic Lesniewski had been
his next target).
The Leclerc / Zlobin
battle was now fully engaged, the Russian finding opportunities
to harry the Viper at almost every corner, even passing the big
GT1 car on a couple of occasions, only to suffer the frustration
of seeing the Viper howl by on raw power as soon as a reasonable
With the clock counting
down it was a waiting game for Dupuy, to see whether the Australian
ahead would make an error. Brabham though doesn’t make too
many and it looked like being a fruitless pursuit. But Dupuy is
a wily old fox and even as the last lap unwound he was still there
in the Ferrari’s mirrors, looking for an opportunity.
Astonishingly it presented
itself at Turn 12, Brabham caught out by a backmarker (Nick Adcock)
getting through the corner more slowly than he had anticipated.
Dupuy pounced and took
the Saleen around the outside into Turn 13, the Ferrari trailing
for the first time in the race. It wasn’t over yet though.
As the battling pair howled down to the final turn the #46 JMB Ferrari
of Massimo Mantovani spun in front of the Saleen, Dupuy lifted off
and it was nose to tail once more.
It wasn’t quite
enough though for Brabham, the pair sprinting past the flag with
Dupuy just 0.2 seconds to the good.
There was still action
behind too, Zlobin grabbing fifth from Leclerc through Turn 13 and
holding the Viper along the following straights (with the help of
some spirited weaving), a fine performance again from the Russian,
topped off by a lurid spin at the end of the pit straight on the
slowing down lap. He was just as entertaining at the Spa 24 Hours,
but in different ways.
A cracking race.