Two victories for Phoenix Carsport Racing Corvette duo Fässler-Deletraz in Bucharest street race
Three weeks after the Total 24 Hours of Spa, the sixth round of the FIA GT Championship was yet another highlight. The second edition of the "Bucharest City Challenge" saw the cars and drivers in action at a 3.071 kilometres long, very fast and spectacular street circuit in the centre of the capital of Romania. The circuit is located around the impressive and immense "Palace of the Parliament", the world's second-largest wwwinistrative building after the Pentagon. The two FIA GT races held in Bucharest were both won by the Phoenix Carsport Racing Corvette duo of Marcel Fässler and Jean-Dénis Deletraz. The first race even brought a double victory for the German Corvette team as Fabrizio Gollin and Mike Hezemans came home second. In the second race, the Italian-Dutch pairing retired with suspension damage after Gollin had hit one of the concrete walls surrounding the track.
Instead of the usual two-hour race format of the FIA GT Championship, there were two separate races of one hour in Bucharest, each one with a mandatory pit stop including driver and tyre change. There were points at stake for each of the two races. The entry of 25 cars included eleven cars in the GT1 category, among them three Corvettes. The Selleslagh Racing Team had its usual driver pairing Christophe Bouchut and Xavier Maassen driving the number 3 Corvette whereas the Phoenix Carsport Racing team had brought out its number 5 and 6 Corvettes for Marcel Fässler/Jean-Dénis Deletraz and Fabrizio Gollin/Mike Hezemans respectively.
The Phoenix Carsport Racing Corvettes seemed to do particularly well in Bucharest, topping the time sheets in every practice session. Qualifying saw Marcel Fässler claim his third career pole position in the FIA GT Championship with a lap time of 1.15.348 minutes. Mike Hezemans qualified fourth, Christophe Bouchut put his Selleslagh-Corvette eighth on the grid for the first race of the weekend, held late on Saturday afternoon.
At the start of the one hour "qualifying race", as the first encounter was referred to, the two Corvettes took the lead right away with Fässler leading Hezemans into the first corner. Christophe Bouchut had a thrilling battle with Belgian driver Anthony Kumpen in the Peka-Saleen that kept the spectators on the edge of their seats for many laps. After the driver changes, the race order remained the same, Deletraz driving victory home from Gollin, thus securing a great 1-2 for the Phoenix Carsport Racing team. Bouchut and Maassen ended up fifth.
The second race of the weekend looked to end the same way, but disaster struck in the final quarter when Fabrizio Gollin, who had taken over the wheel of the number 6 Corvette from Mike Hezemans, hit a concrete barrier with the left rear wheel of his car. Suspension damage meant the end of the race for the Italian-Dutch pairing. Fässler and Deletraz, though, had a perfect race, leading all the way from lights to flag in the blistering hot conditions with temperatures as high as 40 degrees Centigrade. Bouchut and Maassen finished fifth with the Selleslagh-Corvette.
In the FIA GT points' standings after six rounds, Hezemans/Gollin are still third overall with 34 points while Fässler/Deletraz have now moved up into fourth place. Bouchut/Maassen are ranked sixth.