Vallelunga Silver Cup 6 Hours
The 6 hour Gold Cup race at Vallalunga on Saturday was followed
by another race over six hours, ostensibly just for touring cars,
on Sunday. Define "touring car": much to the dismay of
those teams with production-based "vetture turismo", the
mid-engined silhouette tourers from the Belgian BTCS series were
also allowed in this year. The Jaguar X-Type of Thiry Racing International
of Thiry himself, David Dermont, and Geoffroy Horion was in charge
of proceedings from the beginning, with lap times that would not
have looked out of place in the Gold Cup GT category. The BMW M3
of Patrick Slaus / Marc Lupant / Loic Deman was never far behind.
Their main rival for pole position was the blue M3 of Dieter Quester,
Luca Riccitelli, and Gold Cup winner Stefano Zonca.
has crossed swords with the BTCS silhouettes at Spa-Francorchamps
on a number of occasions; now they were renewing the acquaintance
at Vallelunga. Rain during the qualifying session on Friday levelled
out the cars' performance somewhat, and the Blue Meanie nearly beat
the silhouette M3 to a spot on the front row when the engine of
the former let go. A spare motor was shipped in from Munich and
installed during the Gold Cup race on Saturday, on what would have
been a day of rest, in one of these lengthy repair sessions that
are so ‘popular’ with racecar mechanics the world over.
When the lights went green on an equally rainy Sunday, the Jaguar
took its place at the head of the field, and established itself
there with ease. Riccitelli eventually had the upper hand in an
inter-BMW fight for second place, and stayed there for 20 minutes
- until the engine started acting up again. The problem was located
in the fuel injection system, and the minutes went ticking away
until repairs were completed and the car rejoined in 25th place.
Riccitelli himself made up a large chunk of the deficit, and handed
the car over to Quester in ninth. Intent on making up for a dismally
unlucky race in the Gold Cup, when they had had to retire their
Porsche from second position overall, Luca and Dieter were determined
to get back into contention, and stay as close as possible to the
Jaguar, just in case.
his way back onto the podium, and Zonca then moved up another spot,
into what seemed a safe second position. With the Jaguar now two
laps ahead of everybody else, and the rain easingd up, the main
question was one of taking the chance of an early change to slicks,
or playing it safe and getting the result. It was then, about an
hour before the end of the Silver Cup race, that the T.R.I. team's
race went up in smoke – during what at first seemed regular
maintenance work, the Jaguar caught fire. The blaze was quickly
contained, but cleaning up the mess that fire extinguishers tend
to leave ate up their two lap advantage, and threw them right down
the order. In the end, Thiry / Dermont / Horion had to settle for
an unlucky fourth place while the Duller crew secured victory in
the 2004 Vallelunga Silver Cup 6 Hours. Stefano Zonca thereby won
two 6 hour races in two days. That's team owner Hermann Duller,
with Dieter Quiester and the trophy.
Fisken, Howard Redhouse, and Stuart Wright brought the Duller E46
Compact home in sixth, after they had also had engine trouble during
1. Zonca / Quester / Riccitelli (BMW M3 E46), Duller Motorsport
2. Liberati / Cerrai / Argenti (BMW M3 E46) Max Team
3. Macari / Fabris / Wilson (BMW M3 E46) GDL Racing
4. Thiry / Dermont / Horion (Jaguar X-Type Silhouette), Thiry Racing
5. Meloni / Meloni / Venturi (BMW M3), Max Team
6. Redhouse / Fisken / Wright (BMW M3 Compact), Duller Motorsport
After a short period of rest, the "global players" of
Duller Motorsport will once again attack the Mil Milhas Brasileiras
at Interlagos in January, possibly with two cars this time around.
After their third place overall this year (Zonca won that race,
too, driving a Viper), regulars Quester and Wolff may be joined
by Karl Wendlinger and possibly Emerson Fittipaldi in 2005. Plans
to take part in the Rolex 24 at Daytona have had to be dropped because
of a revision in the Grand-Am GT regulations that makes the M3 non-compliant;
but a careless remark by Dieter Quester may lead to a foray into
North America after all: "If we win this we'll do Sebring,"
the veteran racer said during the Silver Cup race; and lo and behold,
they won it.
At this moment, the good
people at Duller Motorsport are busy leafing through the ACO rule