FFSA GT Championship – Dijon – Race 1 Report
Dumez / Blanchemain, But Saleen Rampant

The start of the first race was quite hectic. The leaders went through the first corner without a hitch but there were some troubles at the back of the field, some cars having contact, including the Red Racing Porsche which couldn’t go any further. So, the safety car came onto the track for ten minutes.

When the safety car slipped away, Romain Bera set a quick pace in the PSI 996, which gave him a six second lead in a single lap! Were the rest asleep? Behind the leading Porsche, Patrick Bornhauser held back Didier Moureu who passed David Hallyday (all Vipers), while François Fiat lost the front bonnet of his Saleen on the straight. Bera’s strategy was clear: pushing hard to have a comfortable lead. After 20 minutes, he was 10 seconds ahead of Bornhausr and Hallyday, who was in third place at Moureu’s expense. The Mirabeau driver had then to fight against Jean-Luc Blanchemain. Further back in the field, there was a great battle between Jean-Marc Thévenot, Yvan Lebon, François Fiat and Stéphane Lacroix-Wasover, for eighth place.

However just before the driver changes, the safety car was back on the track, owing to the#35 Porsche’s spin, the car being badly dangerously positioned on the track. So, almost all drivers pitted at the same time. Romain Bera alone stayed on the track, which was going to cost him a lot. When the safety car came in again, Romain Bera was first, ahead of Olivier Porta’s Porsche and Richard Ballandras (Wieth Ferrari 550 Maranello), who had taken advantage of a good pitstop. The second half was to be run briskly by the higher seeded drivers. Dumez was coming back quickly on Porta and in the field, Antony Beltoise and Dominique Dupuy’s moves were drawing attention. Beltoise, quickest on the track, passed by turns Bruno Besson, Dominique Dupuy then Mathieu Zangarelli. However, the Lease Plan Autovitesse driver got carried away and spun, which cost him precious time.

Dumez then Cayrolle passed Porta, while Thévenin stopped his Viper, with a sticky gearbox. Within ten minutes of the end, Dominique Dupuy completed his moves, adding Cayrolle to his list of victims, which included Goossens, who still had electric problems with the C5-R, Balandras, Zangarelli, Beltoise, Goueslard, Lagniez, Besson, David and Porta! Eventually, Dumez / Blanchemain took their second season’s win, taking advantage of VBM’s difficulties to take the lead of the Championship, with a gap of four points. Behind them, Dupuy / Fiat, second, had their best result at the wheel of the more and more impressive Saleen S7-R.

Moullin-Traffort / Rabineau took advantage of a clever driver change to widen the gap on Demigneux / Demigneux’s Lamborghini, Mouez / Prunet getting back on the podium. In the French Cup, the Loger / Charriol Lamborghini won easily, but as they finished second Erick Rumpler and Arnaud Peyroles achieved a good result in the Cup standings, taking advantage of Dedours / Makowiecki’s poor performance: they finished in tenth place after a puncture

Sébastien Dumez: “We started with worn tyres due to my partner’s spin during the qualifying session. Jean-Luc Blanchemain made a great first stint, and then we managed quite well at our pitstop during the first yellow period. I couldn’t push hard, so I took some risks when overtaking because I knew that Dominique Dupuy was very fast. We are back in the Championship lead at half-season. This evening, we have started for a new Championship.”

Dominique Dupuy: “We are very pleased with this second place but a bit frustrated for I am sure that we could have won. All the drivers weren’t sporting when we overtook them, it is a shame. Our engine has come back from the States two days ago, and as we were short of some components, we had to make some parts of the car ourselves. I had a talk with Franz Konrad who runs the Saleen in the FIA GT Championship, and it is the same thing for him, we have to learn to manage with this stunning car. Anyway, it is very positive and I really hope that we’ll have a win before the end of the season. There’s much work, but we’ll face this challenge.”
Claude Foubert (With thanks to Julie Rubin, FFSA)


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