Sports Car Challenge Catch Up
Time to catch up with the Sports Car Challenge: the two race meetings
at Brno (September 23/24) and Monza (September 30) brought what
looks like a decision in the hunt for the Division 1 title, and
also a major scare.
The Czech Republic
greeted the sportscar competitors with fine weather, but the Czech
organisers greeted the series with an eleventh-hour change to the
timetable - that had all GT entrants bow out of the race on Saturday,
in order to prepare for a 3 hour endurance event later in the day.
1, it was the battle for the title between Wolfgang Payr and Tony
Sinclair and the Briton, whose chances for retaining his title were
severely hurt by three DNFs earlier in the year, could not afford
to miss a beat for the rest of the season. The man from Austria
found his position at the head of the points table quite secure.
He did what he had to do in race 1, shadowing Sinclair who in turn
did all he could do, duly notching up a flag-to-flag win.
Division 2 winner,
Pius Truffer in the 2.5l BMW-engined PRC was once again invincible
in his class, coming home in third place overall.
serves as chief test driver for the family business, chassis manufacturer
PRC; he made a welcome return to competitive driving at Brno. The
factory is putting a lot of effort into the new PRC-Honda, and the
car seems to have a whole lot of potential. With its engine prepared
to FIA Group CN rules, this machine follows the regulations of international
series such as VdeV and the Italian Championship, and the PRC factory
would like to see it take on all comers in international competition
with a competitor in race 1 and was handed a drive-through penalty,
that handed the runner-up places behind Truffer to Peter Kormann
and sportscar rookie Mirco Schultis.
with a bang - in the engine bay of Tony Sinclair's Jade. The team
hurriedly loaded up and left for the UK, eager to get the car back
in raceworthy shape for the trip to Monza where qualifying for the
next races would start only six days later. Amid all this, Pius
Truffer put his PRC-BMW on pole position, the first time a Division
2 car had done so, with Payr lining up alongside him.
(above) in the Division 1 PRC, a non-finisher in the first race,
and Pedrazza in the small Honda-powered car were on row 2. Truffer
was robbed of his excellent position when an overzealous competitor
from further back in the field "railroaded" him going
into the first corner; both were able to continue, and Trufer gave
chase and soon caught up with Beisel.
Running in different
classes, they nevertheless decided to dice it out the oldfashioned
way, and entertained the spectators with a good fight that lasted
for several laps. Beisel eventually had the upper hand by only 0.25
seconds. Payr was never challenged for the lead, and once again
took maximum points. On the GT podium, after a quiet race, were
Kurt Peter, Otto Dragoun, and Peter Bernhard.
On to Monza
for races 13 and 14, for what may well be the SCC's last visit to
the grand old circuit, and the arrival of the Jade Motorsport team
at the Autodromo Nazionale was a pleasant surprise. Tony Sinclair
was clearly determined to hang on to his slim chance of retaining
the Division 1 championship, and clinching the overall Sports Car
In the first
race on Saturday, it all went frightfully wrong. Coming from a comparatively
lowly fifth spot on the grid, Sinclair was in second place and trying
to reel in the leader, Emanuel Pedrazza in the PRC-BMW. At the Lesmo
curve, Sinclair's car left the track and went into the barrier at
almost unabated speed. So severe was the impact that the car penetrated
three rows of tyre barriers and pushed the armco itself back by
half a metre. Helpers were quick to arrive at the scene, but Sinclair's
extrication from the wreck took some time; he was later diagnosed
with a broken pelvis and multiple fractures to his legs. Faced with
three months in hospital care, he will nevertheless consider himself
a lucky man, of sorts.
The race ended
behind the safety car, and Emanuel Pedrazza took the win. Swiss
compatriots Pius Truffer (PRC-BMW, Division 2) and Kurt Peter (Porsche
996, Division 4) were also winners in their respective classes,
but it did not matter much. Understandably, the shock of this incident
reverberated through the SCC paddock, everyone keeping their fingers
crossed as they waited for news on the driver's status - and breathing
a sigh of relief when they heard that his first concern immediately
after the crash was about his car. The whole Sports Car Challenge
wishes Tony Sinclair (seen on a happier occasion last year, below)
a speedy recovery and a return to the racetracks of Europe in 2007.
race again went to Pedrazza in the lightning-fast, hillclimb-derived
PRC, a car campaigned in the German hillclimb series with factory
support. With a 3l engine built to Group CN rules, and a favourable
power/weight ratio, this is obviously a car that can give the most
powerful LMP designs a run for their money in a sprint race. Truffer
had to park his car even before the start with incurable vibrations
in the drivetrain, so it was "nil points" for him this
time out. Wolfgang Payr bounced back from a lowly eleventh place
in the morning race, and finished second - yet more points to add
to his tally. The other class wins went to Austria's Jörg Peham,
with a fine performance in the PRC-Honda in Division 2, and Swiss
Porsche driver Mathias Schmitter in Division 4.
On Sunday, Payr
and Peham took part in a 100 mile race; while Jörg Peham and
team mate Paul Pfefferkorn retired with mechanical failure, Payr
stormed through the 53 car field from a lowly 32rd starting position.
He had chosen the new, light and nimble PRC-Honda over his accustomed,
Cosworth-engined powerhouse, and the result proved him right, with
a fine second place overall in spite of an altercation with a competitor
on the very last lap.
be the last stop of the 2006 Sports Car Challenge, for two races
on October 20/21.