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
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
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
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.