dsc 2005 Awards 26 – European Moment of the Year

Both of the major European Championships, plus the Le Mans 24 Hours and Belcar feature in this category.

Belcar? Yes, well, Patrck Selleslagh’s tears after his Corvette C5-R clinched the 2005 title were a moment to remember.

The FIA GT moment was provided by our European driver of the year, Pedro Lamy, limping home in Bahrain, a result which would eventually give Gabriele Gardel a GT1 championship victory.

The ACO themselves provided another moment to remember as it emerged that the factory Zytek had not been awarded a place on the grid for the Le Mans 24 Hours, a strange decision that looked all the stranger when the car powered home to a race win at the opening round of the LMES at Spa-Francorchamps!

Also missing out on a Le Mans entry was team LNT, they too provided a winning performance at Spa, this time in GT2 – that 1-2 result for the TVR T400Rs would provide another moment to remember.

Which brings us to our top three – third place is a combination of moments over almost three hours. In the pouring rain of Silverstone there were dramas aplenty in the opening stages of the LMES 1000km race. Amongst the large number of cars struggling though were two truly heroic performances – Wolfgang Kaufmann, steering the A-Level Porsche to unparalleled heights and only losing out on a class win in GT1 in the closing stages of the race, while in GT2 it was Xavier Pompidou who was impressing everyone, the 2000-built Sebah Porsche 911 GT3R up to sixth overall at one point – and that in a race in which 21 LMP cars had started! The car would win the class and set up a run for the title for the second consecutive year.

In second place was a truly historic moment – Tom Kristensen has become almost as much of a Le Mans institution as the Dunlop Bridge. The scenes as he crossed the line to secure a record seventh win in the great race will remain with everyone who witnessed them forever – will it be eight in 2006?

The winner here though was a truly dramatic battle – in the closing stages of the Silverstone 1000kms Allan McNish had outpaced the Creation DBA-Judd but had to pit, his allowed time behind the wheel expired. Stephane Ortelli would take over, in darkness, with a fired up Jamie Campbell-Walter closing very, very fast. Creation Autosportif could almost smell the champagne of the team’s first race win – a supreme effort from JC-W saw him close in to just a tenth of a second behind the Audi, but Ortelli was mighty, he got dialed into the most difficult of conditions unbelievably quickly and, after it had looked like he would lose the advantage at the very end, pulled out a vital gap to take the win for Oreca and Audi’s amazing R8 – stunning stuff

We asked all four of the drivers involved in the tussle to sum it up in a single word and here’s what they told us:

Allan McNish: “UNBELIEVABLE – What a race the Creation boys gave us and what a finish from Stephane and from Jamie. What Stephane did was very, very difficult, it is very fast and very dangerous and to have a finish so close is just great to attract people to this part of the sport.”

Stephane Ortelli: ““FANTASTIC – It was so close at the end and such an exciting last hour. What a fantastic car and a great race.”

Jamie Campbell-Walter: “LIGHTS – As in the Audi has great lights and that helped to overcome Stephane’s disadvantage, getting into the car in the darkness. Let’s not forget the Audi is a fantastic car, it has had millions spent on development and testing and to do what we do with the resources we have is a massive credit to everyone involved.”

Nicolas Minassian: “FINISHING – It’s great to get there finally, of course it’s disappointing to get this close, but we have a fast AND reliable car now.”

dailysportscar.com’s 2005 European Moment of the Year was Stephane Ortelli vs Jamie Campbell-Walter in the Closing Stages Of The Silverstone 1000kms.

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