Vallelunga Silver Cup 6 Hours
Zonca Again
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.

Duller Motorsport 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.

Quester worked 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.

Britons Gregor Fisken, Howard Redhouse, and Stuart Wright brought the Duller E46 Compact home in sixth, after they had also had engine trouble during practice.

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 International
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 book.
Johannes Gauglica


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