Mil Milhas Report
Cirtek Aston Martin – The Hard Way

Sergio Fonseca kept us up to date with the way practice and qualifying for last weekend’s event developed: now, after a slight delay, we can bring the story of the race.

In simple terms, the Cirtek Motorsport Aston Martin DBR9 driven by Nelson Piquet, Hélio Castro Neves, Nelsinho Piquet and Christophe Bouchut won the event, with a five lap margin over the Capuava Mercedes – which was a remarkable turnaround for the blue Aston Martin of Rob Schirle’s team, after a fraught build-up to the race.

“At Christmas, we’d decided we couldn’t do the race,” explains Rob Schirle. “We were short on funding – but Antonio (Herrman, the race promoter) helped out, and persuaded us to go.

“As of the Friday, a week before the race, the car was still in Dubai.”

The Aston Martin did arrive in time, on the Monday of race week, but by the Tuesday, only half of the team’s equipment had turned up – and the missing boxes included one containing the race engine. The missing kit was still in London, so having taken out the ‘tired’ FIA GT engine, the poor mechanics had to put it straight back in.

“Helio Castro Neves completed four laps on Wednesday night, and all the drivers drove on Thursday,” continues Rob Schirle, “but the rest of the equipment, including the race engine, didn’t arrive until 4pm on Friday.”

After all those dramas, Cirtek’s race was “perfect. We carried out perfect pit stops, made the right call on tyres towards the end – and it was the fastest Mil Milhas on record,” said the proud, winning, team owner.

The race had started without two cars. The Alcides Diniz Aston Martin DBR9 didn’t have a replacement engine, having lost a V12 in qualifying, while the Mitsubishi Stock Car wasn't a runner throughout the week.

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dailysportscar.comThe eternal pole position car, the ZF01 Chevrolet, took the lead from the start, from the GLPK Corvette C5-R and the Cirtek Aston Martin DBR9. The battle for the lead in the early going was between these three. It was an unfortunate beginning for the GPC Squadra Corse Ferrari 575 GTC of the Marques family, this entry suffering a puncture and suspension damage.

After 57 laps, the Chevrolet engine in the ZF01 blew up and Paulo Bonifácio, Felipe Giaffone and Vítor Meira were out of the race – leaving it to the GT1s. Paulo Bonifacio had high hopes of a win this year, as his prototype will be barred in 2007.

So the Piquet Sport / Cirtek Motorsport joint venture assumed a position at the top of the classification followed closely by the yellow Corvette. Capuava Racing Team’s Mercedes CLK DTM was just behind, looking strong at this stage.

Towards the end, the Corvette C5-R was struggling with engine trouble, and came home seventh, behind Franz Konrad’s #4 saleen, this one suffering broken suspension that cost around 15 laps. Franz Konrad: "I was going up the hill, flat in fifth gear, and before the 50 m braking point, the car turned to the left, towards the wall. It was (could have been) very bad."

Without the ZF01 and the Corvette, the Cirtek Motorsport Aston Martin DBR9 had an untroubled end to the race, the rain not disturbing the car’s form. With the Piquet family on the top of the podium the race enjoyed tremendous media exposure, and Antonio Herrman couldn't have been happier.

Neither could Nelson Piquet.

"This was an excellent opportunity to drive with my son,” said the former F1 Champion. “That was the reason why I came to the race and the victory with him was sensational. Marvellous! First is first and second is the first loser," was his rather blunt reaction.

“Nelson drove one stint, and matched the other cars on the track,” commented Rob Schirle. “He’s still got it, even though his last race was at Le Mans in one of the McLarens. It was such a pleasure to work with four professionals – to have drivers of that calibre was awesome. And Cirtek Motorsport not only won the last race of 2005, but also the first one in 2006.

“I think we’ve proved time and again that we can perform at the highest level.”

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"Despite everything, by the start of race, I came in for my first pit stop in the lead, which wasn't bad at all,” commented Christophe Bouchut. “We were quite confident, but nevertheless, for a ten hour race, your car has to be incredibly reliable, and the Aston, despite everything, is still a relatively young car. My co-drivers were also relatively inexperienced in the car, so there were a number of factors counting against us. We really put in a faultless performance, all of us: the drivers, the mechanics, everyone. I will really retain some fantastic memories of this race. Another first for my collection, along with Le Mans, Spa, Daytona - which is quite inexplicable."

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Alcides Diniz’ Mercedes CLK DTM is not an endurance car and couldn't go head-to-head with the big Aston Martin, but Tony Kanaan, Pedro Lamy, Giuliano Losacco and Raul Boesel were happy to finish in second. "It was a big pleasure to race in front of my people,” said Kanaan. “Struggling with health problems, Alcides Diniz did an excellent job and gave us a fabulous car to drive. It was more difficult than IRL races as the competitor level was extremely high. We didn’t have a chance to fight for the victory."

The last podium position went to Konrad Motorsport’s #5 S7-R. Didier Theys and Jean-Marc Gounon were just what Antonio Herrman needed to secure third place. "I enjoyed the race very much,” said Herrman, “but I think the best thing for me is that Nelson and Helio were on the top step of the podium - much better than me! This is the first time ever that I've lost a race and been happy about it! But I still have a good prize."

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Franz Konrad's team showed a very welcome return to form.

dailysportscar.comPlayteam SRL’s Ferrari 360 GTC drive by Giambasttista Giannoccaro, Alessandro Pierguidi and Toni Vilander were the GT2 winners. The Spanish GT Champions were always on top of the class and finished in a solid fourth. Baluarte Racing Team’s Porsche 911 GT3-RS line-up pushed hard but the former PK Sport car couldn't beat the Italian rival.

Antonio Herrman and his organising team were very happy with the show and are already looking forward for 2007 edition - the first round of the 2007 FIA GT Championship.

"This race teaches us a lot for 2007,” summed up Antonio Herrman. “We want to do even better next year. All the teams and drivers from Europe loved the race and promised to be back. Our event environment was much better than F1. The only failure was the public, as they didn't appear as expected. We have to correct this point. The price of the tickets was too high for Brazilians.”
Sergio Fonseca

Result
1 1 Aston Martin (Cirtek) GTP1 374 laps 10:36:38.659 1:34.520
2 25 Mercedes DTM (Capuava) GTP1 369 laps 1:34.965
3 5 Saleen (Konrad) GTP1 364 1:35.965
4 36 Ferrari 360 Modena (Playteam) GT2 354 1:40.917
5 70 Porsche (Baluarte Racing Team) GT2 349 1:41.802
6 4 Saleen (Konrad) GTP1 348 1:35.913
7 12 Corvette (GLPK Carsport) GTP1 341 1:34.845
8 55 Porsche (Stuttgart Sport Car) GT2 330 1:44.279
9 3 Porsche (CRT) GT2 328 1:45.505
10 11 Ferrari 575 (GPC) GTP1 328 -3.603 1:35.110
11 33 Ferrari 550 (Tekprom) GTP1 323 1:38.251
12 22 Alfa Romeo 156 (Tekprom) STC 309 1:48.268
13 73 Omega (Katalogo Racing) STC 304 1:49.510
14 63 Spyder (Spyder Race) P2 296 1:51.570
15 56 Porsche (Stuttgart Sport Car) GT2 291 1:41.134
16 30 Spyder (HT Guerra) P2 289 1:50.161
17 23 Omega (Tigueis) STC 229 1:53.466
18 58 Spyder (Serata) P2 212 1:51.993
19 72 Spyder (HT Guerra) P2 209 1:52.053
20 38 Vectra (Daytona Performance) STC 202 1:57.150
21 7 Spyder (HT Guerra) P2 151 1:50.128
22 51 Spyder (Spyder Race) P2 141 1:53.352
23 42 BMW (Eurobike Motorsport) STC 126 1:47.074
24 44 Omega (Coruja) STC 113 1:56.625
25 19 Maserati (Maserati Competições) GT2 101 1:45.567
26 21 ZF 01 (Scuderia 111) GTP1 57 1:33.558
27 10 Ferrari 575 (GPC) GTP1 57 4:33.006 1:35.534
28 49 Spyder (Top Speed) P2 26 1:51.233
29 77 MCR GTP1 (Nascar Motorsport) GTP1 18 1:44.113

Mil Milhas - Hall of Fame
24/11/1956 - Catharino Andreatta/Breno Fornari (Carretera Ford)
23/11/1957 - Aristides Bertuol/Orlando Menegaz (Carretera Chevrolet)
19/11/1958 - Catharino Andreatta/Breno Fornari (Carretera Ford)
21/11/1959 - Catharino Andreatta/Breno Fornari (Carretera Ford)
23/11/1960 - Chico Landi/Christian Heins (FNM JK 2000)
25/11/1961 - Italo Bertão/Orlando Menegaz (Carretera Chevrolet)
17/11/1965 - Justino de Maio/Victoria Azzalin (Carretera Chevrolet)
19/11/1966 - Camilo Christófaro/Eduardo Celidôneo (Carretera Chevrolet)
3/12/1967 - Luís Pereira Bueno/Luiz Terra Smith (Interlagos Mark 1)
22/11/1970 - Abílio Diniz/Alcides Diniz (Alfa Romeo GTA 2000)
9/12/1973 - Bird Clement/Nilson Clemente (Maverick 4800)
20/12/1981 - Zeca Giaffone/Affonso Giaffone/Chico Serra (Opala Stock Car)
30/1/1983 - Fausto Wajchenberg/Vicente Corrêa/Valdir Silva (Passat)
22/1/1984 - Zeca Giaffone/Reinaldo Campello/Maurizio Sala (Opala Stock Car)
25/1/1985 - Paulo Gomes/Fábio Sotto Mayor (Opala Stock Car)
26/1/1986 - Zeca Giaffone/Affonso Giafone/Walter Travaglini (Opala Stock Car)
25/1/1987 - Luís Pereira/Marcos Gracia (Opala Stock Car)
23/1/1988 - Zeca Giaffone/Luiz Pereira/Walter Travaglini (Opala Stock Car)
21/1/1989 - Zeca Giaffone/Walter Travaglini (Opala Stock Car)
8/4/1990 - Carlos Alves/José Carlos Dias (Opala Stock Car)
26/1/1992 - Klaus Heitkotter/Jurgen Weis/Marc Gindorf (BMW M3 2300)
24/1/1993 - Antonio Hermann/Franz Konrad/Franz Prangemeier (Porsche 911)
22/1/1994 - Wilson Fittipaldi/Christian Fittipaldi (Porsche NSR 911)
8/4/1995 - Wilson Fittipaldi/Antonio Hermann/Franz Konrad (Porsche 903)
20/4/1996 - André Lara Resende/Roberto Keller/Roberto Aranha (Porsche 911)
19/1/1997 - Nelson Piquet/Johnny Cecotto/Steve Soper (McLaren GTR)
20/12/1998 - Tom Stefani/André Grillo/Júlio Fernandes (AS Vectra 2.0)
19/12/1999 - Beto Borghesi/Jair Bana/Luciano Borghesi (Aldee AP-2000)
27/1/2001 - André Lara Resende/Régis Schuch/Max Wilson/Flávio Trindade (Porsche 911 GT3) 27/1/2002 - Régis Schuch/ Flávio Trindade/Raul Boesel (Porsche 911 GT3)
26/1/2003 - Ingo Hoffman/Xandy Negrão/Ricardo Etchenique/Fernando Nabuco (Porsche 911 GT3)
25/1/2004 - Stefano Zonca/Angelo Lancellotti/Fabrizio Gollin (Dodge Viper GTS-ACR)
25/1/2005 - Xandy Negrão/Xandynho Negrão/Guto Negrão/Giuliano Losacco (Audi TT DTM)
21/1/2006 - Nelson Piquet, Nelsinho Piquet, Christophe Bouchut, Hélio Castro Neves (Aston Martin DB9R)

 

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