Brno 3 Hours – September 25
The weather was breezy and autumnal over the Automotodrom Brno;
the on-track action could have done with a breath of fresh air,
too. There were two endurance races on the agenda on Saturday, and
both saw displays of dominance.
Endurance Touring Car Series was run over four hours, and was by
and large a BMW festival. Best of the M3s was Duller Motorsport's
Blue Meanie driven by Philipp Peter, Dieter Quester and Stefano
Zonca; this team controlled the race at will, and had an advantage
of two laps over the two Max cars of Liberati / Cerrai and Peroni
/ Argenti. This was their second win in a row, so it is fair to
say that this series is getting Duller by the race.
this race was not exactly thrilling, the spectators had no reason
to hope for any more excitement from the last scheduled event of
the day. Initially
it looked like the Czech 3 hour enduro would be entertaining for
a change: as this was also a round of the Polish series, Maciej
Stanco had brought along his Saleen S7-R as well as his venerable
Porsche 993 GT2. The Czech regulations require the use of catalytic
converters, the Polish regulations do not. The Saleen does not have
a catalyst, and thus, it was grounded. Incidentally, Max Stanco
and his Star Moto Racing Team have plans for a full season in FIA-GT
next year, with an all-Polish driver lineup and a fresh S7-R already
acquired from Franz Konrad.
the race in the Porsche; but the contest for victory was effectively
over at this point. We’d best ignore the presence of Antonin
Charouz' ex-DTM Mercedes CLK altogether; suffice to say that it
sped off into the distance and won both the three hour race and
the sprint race on Sunday with ease. It all seems a rather pointless
exercise by now, and one can only hope that the organisers and the
Czech sporting federation will finally level out this blatant performance
imparity in time for next year - while there is still some competition
The battle for
"Best non-Merc" honours was between a handful of Porsches.
Machanek Racing had two cars in the race, a GT3-RS driven by team
owner Rudolf Machanek and Jaroslav Honzik, and a GT3 Cup car for
Istvan Racz / Stefan Rosina / Josef Venc. Milan Bezak fielded another
Cup 996 for himself and Peter Gehrling, and another Cup car made
the front row.
Renauer Motorsport team campaigned a Porsche for the first time,
for Manfred Jurasz, Petr Valek, and the ubiquitous Wolfgang Kaufmann.
They also had a catalyst related run-in with the officials before
the race that required a pre-race "quick fix"; in the
race, the Renauer car managed to stay ahead of the Machanek Cup
car and Stanco's GT2; when the latter departed from the race after
some 40 minutes, second place seemed relatively safe for the Renauer
crew. But going into the last third of the race, they fell back
to third and eventually fourth place, behind the MB Racing car.
team mates are doing a good job", said Wolfgang Kaufmann, "but
being a three driver team, we are losing too much time in the pits.
Also, the team is only familiarising itself with the new equipment;
that's why we are here." He then took over for the last stint,
and his objective was clear: get second place back. The MB Racing
996 retired soon thereafter so all that remained was to reel in
the Machanek car; but this was easier said than done. Most of this
race happened in total darkness, and the special flair of
night racing adds drama to even the most boring race: this was no
As the observer's
eyes lose sight of the cars, and they head off into the Great Unknown
that in the daytime is simply Turn 1, the ears begin to compensate
for this lack of vision. Sound seems to travel further through the
cold and hazy night air, and the sounds of the race filter back
from all around the track. It is magic that works every time, and
one would be content with just watching the fireworks display of
headlights piercing through darkness, brake lights flashing, brake
discs glowing, exhausts spitting flames, to the reassuring soundtrack
of engines singing their song. But the action happened on the timing
screen: would Kaufmann make it? Racz / Rosina / Venc already had
a substantial advantage; Kaufmann took chunks out of this advantage
lap after lap. In the end, a mere twenty seconds decided it in favour
of Machanek Racing, with the Renauer team taking a fine third place
on its debut outing with the 996.
not take part in the 10 lap sprint race on Sunday which turned out
to be an entertaining affair (never mind the Merc). Again the Machanek
and MB Porsches, both driven by the respective team owners this
time out, were in the middle of the action, with Robert Maderyc's
Audi A4 Super Tourer and European Hillclimb Champion Robert Senkyr's
BMW M3 Special joining in the fun. And fun it was to see these four
cars engage in a real dogfight, that went on for several laps, nose
to tail, alongside, three wide, four wide. It was, as they say,
an accident waiting to happen, and when it happened on lap 4, the
two Porsches were gone from the race. On the approach to the first
downhill corner, Machanek was spun around by another car, presumably
Bezak, who also parked his Porsche just a few yards down the road.
A lap later, Maderyc squeezed past Senkyr and held on to a well-deserved
second place all the way to the flag. If only this had been the
race for the lead.
And thus ended
the 2004 Czech Championship, but the highlight of the Czech racing
season is still to come, on 9 October: Europe's only 12 hour endurance
race. Chances are Mr. Charouz and Mr. Janis will find this one a
trifle harder to win.