Round 3 - San Marino (Imola)
You had to look back to row 3 to find the PowerTech entries and even then it was Stefan Diener lining up ahead of championship challenger Thomas Bodlien, the team suffering from terrible oversteer problems during the session.
For the first time this year there was a clear gap between the Ace and Pro runners and again it was the Phoenix car which took the class pole ahead of the surprisingly fast Powerecoil-2000 of Robert Wilson who outperformed ex-champ Olivier Leroy and BCR driver Mark Butler.
Pos No. Driver Team Cl. Time Diff. Laps Pts 1. #61 Oliver Roberts Digitech Ace 1:15.607 +00.000 12 20 2. # 1 Jan Svehlik Bolgani Ace 1:15.764 +00.157 9 16 3. # 2 Mike Hogg Bolgani Ace 1:16.067 +00.460 8 14 4. # 9 Darren Crawford Corgi Ace 1:16.416 +00.809 6 12 5. # 4 Steffen Diener Power Tech Ace 1:16.509 +00.902 12 10 6. # 3 Thomas Bodlien Power Tech Ace 1:16.740 +01.133 12 8 7. #15 Benjamin Suerig Amiga Racing Ace 1:17.211 +01.604 12 6 8. #11 Ian Parkhouse Phoenix Pro 1:17.453 +01.846 10 5 9. #39 Robert Wilson Powerecoil-2000 Pro 1:17.527 +01.920 8 4 10. # 7 Olivier Leroy CyberSpeed Pro 1:18.100 +02.493 11 3 11. # 5 Mark Butler BCR - Honda Pro 1:18.139 +02.532 11 2 12. #19 Bert Volders Lancia Pro 1:18.434 +02.827 8 1 13. #25 Jim Spratt Lotus Pro 1:19.761 +04.154 12 14. #23 Donald Millican Coll Oliver Mil. Pro 1:23.935 +08.328 9
On lap 8 Claudio Di Martino took 4th from Diener and pulled away a little and things calmed down until the first round of pitstops started on lap 20. After these had been completed, the one stopping Roberts and Di Martino were leading the way. Lap 29 saw the end of Mike Hogg`s unimpressive race, having fought back through the Pro runners he was sitting at the back of the Ace field until his engine expired.
Roberts and Di Martino made their single stops on lap 30, the Digitech emerging still in the lead, over 11 seconds ahead of Svehlik who was a further 2 ahead of Bodlien. When the final stops were completed on lap 40, Roberts had a huge lead of 35 seconds over Svehlik, Di Martino and Bodlien. Bodlien passed Di Martino`s car on lap 48 for 3rd as the Italian was struggling on his faded rubber but he retained an excellent 4th place.
While the Ace standings remained the same to the end, the Pro battle was in for a bizarre ending. With Parkhouse out early and a no show from the BCR team, Robert Wilson found himself leading from rookie driver Volders in the works supported Lancia entry. Millican had retired and several pitstops had put Leroy out of the frame a long time ago so it was down to these two relative unknowns to battle for honours.
Volders had been reeling Wilson in for a number of laps and on lap 59 he pushed the Lancia alongside Wilson in a move that could be read as "I`m going through or we`re having an accident." Unfortunately the latter happened and Wilson mounted the rear wheel of the Lancia, smashing his front wing and buckling his suspension. They were not far from the pits so both cars limped in for repairs, Volders getting out first to record possibly the strangest win ever in the Pro category.
Pos No. Driver Team Cl. Time Diff. Pts 1. #61 Oliver Roberts Digitech Ace 1h23:38.523 +0:00.000 180 +5 2. # 1 Jan Svehlik Bolgani Ace 1h24:09.151 +0:30.628 170 3. # 3 Thomas Bodlien Power Tech Ace 1h24:41.834 +1:03.311 165 4. #42 Claudio Di Martino CDiMa Bros. Ace 1h24:49.888 +1:11.365 160 5. # 4 Steffen Diener Power Tech Ace 1h25:04.562 +1:26.039 155 +5+3 6. # 9 Darren Crawford Corgi Ace 1h25:57.611 +2:19.088 151 7. #19 Bert Volders Lancia Pro 1h28:41.128 +5:02.605 147 8. #39 Robert Wilson Powerecoil-2000 Pro 1h28:46.986 +5:08.463 143 9. #15 Benjamin Suerig Amiga Racing Ace 59 laps 98.02% 134 10. #25 Jim Spratt Lotus Pro 48 laps 79.41% 106 11. # 7 Olivier Leroy CyberSpeed Pro 46 laps 76.28% 99 12. # 2 Mike Hogg Bolgani Ace 29 laps 48.82% 61 13. #23 Donald Millican Coll Oliver Mil. Pro 22 laps 37.59% 45 14. #11 Ian Parkhouse Phoenix Pro 4 laps 7.26% 8
"I liked the look Mirko Patzenbein's tyre strategy in last season's race and decided I would try a one-stop DD strategy. Depending on the traffic, I also planned a switch to a two-stop DDD strategy if necessary, but it wasn't. The race went very well - almost perfect, apart from a little spin I had 3-4 laps from the end of the race when I pushed too much on worn tyres. The traffic wasn't really a problem and I managed to get into a nice rhythm during the race which allowed me to be very consistent, even when lapping cars since there were quite a few easy overtaking points. All in all, I don't think I could have done much better - I just hope that spin doesn't cost me a position."
Jan Svehlik (Bolgani), 2nd:
"This race was hard work. There are two dangerous chicanes. I was
lucky and haved no broken wings. Only small problems with CC's.
My tactics was the one from previous season. The whole race on
D compound tyres. Two pitstops (lap 21 and 41)."
Claudio Di Martino (CDiMa Bros.), 4th:
"A boring race where the main source of trouble was the fast chicane where
I saw many times the grass under my wheels. Fortunately I was always able
to come back on track without loosing too much speed and time."
Steffen Diener (Power Tech), 5th:
"Looking at my result I should be happy. I finished the race,
I improved my qualifying time and my race time. But after all
it was just a bad race (can you actually have a good race at
Imola?). Too often I ran over the green or got into trouble
So let's just move on to Spain."
Darren Crawford (Corgi), 6th:
"It was a pretty smooth for the most part. I did get tangled up with the Manardis' a couple of times. And I'm sure I could have better my time.
Once the tires near the end of the race really started to stick I change my racing strategy and I took off about two seconds, and then traffic slowed me down again. At least I haven't suffered any damage yet, although a couple of times I thought I had. I must have a lucky horse shoe."
Bert Volders (Lancia), 7th:
"Quick at the start I led the field the first lap only to go mowing grass at the
end of lap 2, dropping back to 9th position. At the end of lap 2 we were back at
4th only to keep on pushing to finally take the lead again on lap 18. And that
included an un-welcome pitstop on lap 6. Just before going left to go to the
start-finish straight I lost control of the car and slid into the pit-lane
leaving him no choice but changing the tyres. On lap 23 the first planned
pitstop was made and I rejoined in 2nd. On lap 27 I went back in the lead again,
pushing out some rather quick laps. On lap 48 the second planned pitstop was
made. With one of the Jordan's doing some parrallel parking on the
circuit just after a blind bend I ran into the back of the Jordan, ruining my
nose-cone so had to come in again on the 57th lap."
Robert Wilson (Powerecoil-2000), 8th:
"A more disappointing result than Brazil I felt, it was a strange race. I was very
slow throughout only putting in some fast laps after a pit stop late on as I had
to get a new nose cone.
Only 8 cars finished the race and at one point it was looking like only a couple
would finish, the bend at the top of the hill caught most people out with more
cars than marshals along both sides of the race track.
A race I'd rather forget about.. roll on Spain."
Benjamin Suerig (Amiga Racing), 9th:
"I like Imola. I really do. But this year I was not competitive on this track. It was very hard for me to keep the car under control, and I did more mistakes than there were laps to be completed. When trying to pass Johnny Herbert on lap 60, I started slipping and finally crashed into the wall. I guess Imola is one of the most dangerous tracks."
Jim Spratt (Lotus), 10th:
"A disaster, and that's putting it mildly.....
Though it started off reasonably well, with me getting from 5th to 2nd within a
lap, and taking the lead by lap 5, which I held until the first stop, leaving
the pits in 2nd.
However the tyres were cold, and I spun off, going down to 4th, when I set about
re-gaining the lead, by not overdriving the car.
I managed to re-take 3rd on lap 24, and got up to 2nd by lap 27, and I took the
lead on lap 37.
However I dropped to 4th during my last pit stop, and set about catching
Hakkinen again..., and I managed to make up 2 places in as many laps, but, alas
- diaster was lurking around the corner...
I tried to overtake Hakkinen for the lead braking downhill before the hairpin,
and didn't manage it, and to add insult to injury Schumacher put me out of the
race. All I can say is roll on Spain, because Imola isn't one of my favorite
Olivier Leroy (CyberSpeed), 11th:
"I had a good start from the 2nd place, and I immediately took the 1st place.
But at the lap 5, I did my first fault and I had to change my rear wing, so I
was 12th after this stop. I planned to do two stops during my race, and, at the
lap 40, I did my fourth pit-stop, to replace my 3rd front wing...
Finally, at lap 46, I was 7th, and I was too fast in Acque Minerale. My awful race
Mike Hogg (Bolgani), 12th:
"And it was going so well!!!"
Donald Millican (Coll Oliver Mil.), 13th:
"I suffered constant brake failure and gear selection
problems thoughout the race. It took approx 1 second
for my brakes to apply themselves when ordered to and
the car often failed to drop down the gears when told
to. Gear selection failure was what caused my retirement
when I hit a wall head-on at 100+ mph stuck in 4th gear.
This is not a good season for me so far."
Ian Parkhouse (Phoenix), 14th:
"Not much to say. Marc Gene spun in front of me. I went wide (independantly). I was certain I was going to miss him. I didn't. Crunch. End of race. Goodbye.
Oh well, I can always look on the bright side. Imola is one of my least favourite circuits and being in the Pro class this result (hopefully) won't count for me at the end of the season. "