The 2009 fia gt season got off to a furious start with exciting races at the first two events. The PK Carsport Corvette C6R, with drivers Mike Hezemans and Anthony Kumpen, emerged in Second Place in the championship standings after notching a Fourth Place finish at Silverstone and taking Second at Adria. A total of three Corvette C6.Rs traveled to the Oschersleben Motor Arena in Germany to battle Maserati, Ford, Saleen, Porsche, Ferrari, and Nissan on the tight, 2.2966-mile road course. Qualifying was competitive, and when the dust cleared a Maserati MC12 was first with a 1:24.546, while a Saleen S7R was second with a 1:24.865. The Luc Alphand No. 19 C6.R, with drivers Xavier Maassen and Thomas Biagi, qualified third with a time of 1:25.160. (Interestingly, this car had been converted to FIA specs during the week between Le Mans and Oschersleben. At Le Mans, it carried No. 73 and took an impressive Second Place in GT1.) The No. 3 SRT C6.R qualified sixth with a 1:25.560, and the No. 4 PK Carsport C6.R was seventh with a 1:25.702.
SRT drivers Bert Longin and...
SRT drivers Bert Longin and James Ruffier qualified sixth and finished Fourth. Ruffier won the 2008 FIA GT3 Drivers Championship in a Callaway Z06.R.
A total of 24 GT1 and GT2 cars took the green flag under cloudy conditions. The excitement started at the very first turn of the race, when a three-way confrontation between the leading Maserati, Saleen, and Corvette pushed them all off course. Although the cars made their way back into the field after repairs, Hezemans took advantage of the incident and jumped into the lead. He was followed by the SRT Corvette and a Saleen. More than 32,000 spectators watched as the No. 4 Vette slowly pulled away from the rest of the field. Around 20 minutes into the two-hour race, it began to rain.
Although badly battered early...
Although badly battered early in the race, the No. 19 Luc Alphand Corvette managed to soldier on after the team made quick repairs. Drivers Xavier Maassen and Thomas Biagi finished a creditable Fifth in class.
"When the rain started, the gap at the front closed up, but once we pitted for rain tires, Kumpen continued in the lead. [He] was seemingly unbothered by the treacherous conditions," said Hezemans. With conditions becoming exceedingly tricky, there were plenty of spins and trips into the gravel. Hezemans took over for the last few minutes, emerging with an 11-second lead and ultimately crossing the finish line after 71 laps with a 9-second advantage. The win was Hezemans' 13th FIA GT Championship victory.
"We're happy we gained points in the championship. We're still Second, but it's closer with our win," Kumpen said afterwards.
The well-prepared Mike Hezemans/Anthony...
The well-prepared Mike Hezemans/Anthony Kumpen PK Carsport Corvette took advantage of a first-lap incident involving the top three cars and jumped into a commanding lead.
A pair of Vitaphone Maserati MC12s finished Second and Third, while the No. 3 SRT Corvette of Bert Longin and James Ruffier took Fourth. The No. 19 Luc Alphand C6.R of Maassen/Biagi recovered from its first-lap confrontation to capture Fifth.
Hezemans (left) and Kumpen...
Hezemans (left) and Kumpen raise their victory trophies on the winners' podium at Oschersleben.
Maserati drivers Andrea Bertolini and Michael Bartels left Oschersleben with a 3-point lead over Hezemans and Kumpen in the drivers championship. Maassen retained his third place position, and SRT C6.R drivers Longin and Ruffier were fourth. The next race would be the 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium, where another epic battle loomed between Corvette and Maserati. Stay tuned.