Deletraz – He (Still) Loves GT Racing
Despite What Happened at Adria
Deletraz (left) and Andrea Piccini went into the penultimate race
of the FIA GT Championship, at Adria on Sunday (October 15) with
a fighting chance of challenging the #1 Maserati drivers, and Bert
in the Saleen, for the title – and the Swiss was understandably
furious at what transpired on lap 16, barely 20 minutes into the
three hour race.
“It was really close and fair between the
three championship cars (his Phoenix Aston Martin with Andrea Piccini
at the wheel, the Zakspeed Saleen and the #1 Maserati – with
Christophe Bouchut involved too.. plus Fabio Babini) – but
Babini was 20 metres behind Andrea, when I am sure he lost his braking
“He claimed that Andrea braked early, but
that is ridiculous. You saw it on the TV? He smashed our car off
you know why the BMS car pitted so often (four times) for new tyres?
The team had 1,000 guests there, and it was really important for
them to show well. The car qualified on soft tyres, but they could
only do about 30 laps on each set of tyres!”
BMS seem to
do a good job of preparing an Aston Martin though - even one that
has been thoroughly soaked in champagne....
So from potentially going for a championship, Deletraz
and Piccini were reduced to bystanders – although the Phoenix
Aston Martin did briefly resume racing five laps down after repairs,
although it was soon retired with terminal brake problems.
Jean-Denis Deletraz was more than a little surprised
to find that the FIA stewards considered that the contact from Babini
was a racing accident. Deletraz made his feelings known to Stephane
Ratel, who pointed out that he (Ratel) is in the hands of the FIA
officials: it is their job to judge any incidents and penalise any
“No one wants the responsibility,” said
a highly aggrieved Deletraz today. “It’s really bad
for the sport when there is contact like this but no penalties.
We have had several incidents like this during the season. But we
never have penalties. In F1, the drivers immediately get penalties.
drivers see these incidents, and maybe they think they can do the
same…. But at Adria, we did have a lot of good racing, side
by side racing, and no contact. Passing means racing side by side
– but Babini never got near Andrea until he hit our car.”
leading Janis, Babini and Bouchut - and below that, the Italian's
brief charge through the leaders (Gollin behind #5), after a five
lap repair, but before an imminent retirement.
With 65 FIA
GT races to his name, and four overall victories, Jean-Denis Deletraz
is suitably qualified to comment on where the FIA GT Championship
has got to in 2006 – and where it is going.
“The problem is that every team would like
something different for 2007 – short races, long races, in
Europe, outside Europe, with the DTM, not with the DTM. I don’t
know how Stephane is going to manage this problem.
“My opinion? It needs to go outside Europe
– and it needs non-European teams, maybe from Asia and South
America. I prefer races outside Europe – big races, which
need to stay at three hours, maybe four hours. Everyone wants short
races for the TV, but I say that means going up against F1 and the
DTM, which is impossible. GT racing needs to be different (from
So what are you considering for next year?
“First of all, we will decide about the last
race at Dubai. We will decide whether to go or not very soon. It’s
very expensive, and we would be going just to race there –
maybe against a small number of GT1 cars, with the championship
over. We should have been going there to decide the championship.
“Peugeot’s decision to support the Le
Mans Series is very significant. They are helping to build the support
package with their small cars, and they will be spending a lot of
money on the TV and the media exposure. Peugeot has a lot of power,
and that makes the Le Mans Series really strong. It’s very
bad for the FIA GT Championship.
“But I want to do more than five races in
a year! Le Mans is like two races – with the test day and
then race week – so that makes seven. My ideal would be nine,
so Sebring, five races in Europe, Le Mans and Petit Le Mans at the
end – that would be my perfect season.
“I love GT racing – but I’m not
sure about the FIA GT Championship.”
The FIA GT calendar
was expected by the end of this month, so perhaps then we will see
where the Championship is heading for 2007.