Bahrain GT Festival – Race 3
Being Told What To Do

Race two had seen a fine battle between Dupuy and Brabham and both combatants were back for more in race three.

There was good news for two British teams, with both the GT2 Tech 9 Porsche and the Stealth taking the start of race three. Rob Croydon was at the wheel of the Porsche, co-driver Adam Sharpe’s brother having flown out with the requisite parts. Nigel Greensall was at the controls of the Stealth, and both would enjoy impressive runs through the field.

Starting from the pitlane was the Wieth Ferrari, its fine race two finish wiped out by the stewards, the Ferrari being found to be 6 kilos underweight. “It’s very frustrating,“ said Nico Wieth, “there appears to be a discrepancy between three different sets of scales.” Wolfgang Kaufmann would start from the pitlane but his problems didn’t end there. “The engine temperature was 150 degrees so the car went into ‘safe mode’ popping and banging around for the first lap, I had new, unscrubbed tyres and new pads too, with no warming up lap to bed them in, not a great start.” Things would improve for the yellow and green Ferrari.

Joining the list of non-starters was Christophe Bouchut in the #68 Lamborghini, the car refusing to fire up. “We thought it was the starter motor but it isn’t. The team is still trying to trace the fault,” said the Frenchman later.

From the off it was Brabham from Dupuy, with Patrick Long again grabbing third slot - before being demoted by the Viper of Makowiecki, and then a lap or so later by the second Viper of Leclerc.

Martin Short meanwhile had initially got the better of Belloc in the #35 JMB Ferrari, but the French ace was past the Mosler and off in pursuit of Long’s Porsche within a lap.

From the back of the grid, Nigel Greensall was making meteoric progress, passing eight cars before the lighting gantry at the start line completing lap 1, and continuing through the field at an impressive pace despite a fuel pick up problem that kicked in as early as lap two. By lap three the Stealth was in ninth position.

Rob Croydon was going very well too in the #44 Tech 9 Porsche, up to 23rd very early on, from the very back of the grid.

In GT3 it was Phil Keen, in his very first GT race, who led the class, an incredible ninth overall in the early stages and holding off a gaggle of GT2 cars.

Keith Ahler’s Morgan was flying along in fine style, 19th overall and fourth in GT3, with just the Dutch Viper and the Berville Porsche between him and Keen in the class battle: a half spin later on would cost the Morgan several places but it would be another very strong run for the rumbling V8.

Jean-Christophe Ravier’s Toyota Supra was again on a charge, this another car starting from the back of the grid after problems in race 2. The 550bhp Supra powered into the top 20 just ahead of Rob Croydon, and kept on climbing.

Bas Leinders meanwhile had had a great start in the Gillet, up to eighth before a quick spin undid all of the good work: the Minardi F1 test driver would have it all to do again, the Alfa V6 powered machine now battling with Ravier’s Toyota for 14th place.

The lead battle was about to explode … or rather the left rear Dunlop of Dominic Dupuy’s Saleen was about to explode, the S7-R slowing to a crawl to get back to the pits, emerging back in 22nd place, the lead gap now 13 seconds from the #8 Ferrari to the Larbre Viper.

The Stealth’s progress had continued steadily, the car now up to sixth, while Wolfgang ‘Piranha’ Kaufmann was by now in 12th and now fully up to speed, climbing steadily up through the order, outdragging the Mosler past the pits as he climbed up towards an eventual eighth.

There was a veritable ‘Battle of the Brits going on between Ahlers, Marco Attard and Paul Mace, with the Ferrari driver (Attard) driving around a gear selection problem and the Jaz Porsche going ever quicker.

In GT2 Belloc was all over the back of Long’s Porsche, next time around he was through for the class lead.

With 14 minutes to run Dupuy was up to 11th and scything through the field again. The Saleen was soon up with the Wieth Ferrari and despite the 550’s pace Dupuy edged by: seventh place though was as good as it would get for the #1 car.

In GT2 the Belloc / Long duel was still fully alight but just outside the top ten the Toyota and Gillet were battling hard, both though were being reeled in by the Tech 9 GT2 Porsche: Rob Croydon was haring along and passed both the cars on the very last lap. “Other than a gearbox temperature problem the car was perfect, on the last lap I was three wide with the other two cars up the hill (to turn 11). Mega stuff!” said the blond one.

It was a good result all round for the Liverpool team (Tech 9) as GT debutant Phil Keen came home one place ahead of Croydon to take the GT3 win with a hugely impressive drive, 11th overall and catching the Almeras GT2 Porsche ahead at the end.

“The car was fantastic, a world away from a TVR Tuscan Challenge car. It really told me what it was doing and I was able to keep up a very constant pace, the tyres just never seemed to go off.”

Belloc would emerge the victor from an excellent GT2 battle, fourth overall and just 0.678 of second ahead of Patrick Long.

At the front of the pack though it was a very comfortable win for David Brabham, the Ferrari finishing almost 28 seconds clear of Makowiecki’s Viper with Leclerc’s Force One GTS-R a further 45 seconds behind.

Just the final to come.
GG

 

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