The recent “somewhat interesting” weather that’s hit our soggy little isles off the European coast has delayed posting this somewhat, for which we can only apologise, but as you can see from the picture, it wasn’t exactly plain sailing for Robert Graf‘s first full DOM-GNL race in the new Ford Fusion, either!
Click “Read more->” below for the full story behind the painful looking picture and the rest of the round four race report from Bristol.
Official race report:
Bristol is one of the hardest tracks in the calendar. Tight, short and fast. You can’t relax on the short straights and the permanent banking doesn’t make it easier. On every mistake, the wall is right there to ruin your day. Even the slightest brush against it can have major consequences. The session password “Drehwurm” (synonym for getting giddy) seemed to be well choosen.
Right on the start things went wrong. Thomas Kroll (P3) is heavy on the throttle and pulls right. There he touches Torsten Eberius, the rest of the field just misses him. He loses 8 positions there, but stays in the race. No caution, hence the field is already seperated, only Florian Kirchhofer, Peter Taggeselle and Klaus Jonke start their race without difficulties. Behind them are Torsten Eberius, Andreas Wilke and Matthias Bayer.
On lap 6 Torsten Eberius has to move over for the threesome of Wilke, Bayer and Peters, maybe damage from the frist lap incident. At the front, Peter Taggeselle tries everything to get past Kirchhofer, Jonke keeps a safe distance. On lap 11 lapping traffic starts.
On lap 22 Marvin Aulmann ist the new guy in 6th position, taking it from Stephan Peters with a much faster car.
On lap 30 Taggeselle lets Jonke past for second place, could it be a different strategy by the C&J Energy Services driver? Jonke pulls away immediately but can’t catch up on Kirchhofer. On lap 38 Taggeselle lets Andreas Wilke past and falls back to 4th. On lap 61 Wilke has caught up with Jonke and takes 2nd place with astonishing lap times.
Matthias Bayer is the first to come in for a regular pitstop on lap 77. Repairs take some time and he falls back to 12th afterwards. Not many cars come into the pits unscathed. Johannes Leemann is now in 6th position, but not for long, on lap 89 Mirko Hempel takes 6th. Marvin Aulmann dives down pitlane on lap 102, Hauke Grotheer moves up to 6th. But he has no chance against Aulmann on new rubber, Aulmann gets his 6th place back.
From lap 120 to 130 a fight is going on between Wilke (P2) and Kirchhofer (P1), but not in the way one might expect. Its Wilke who desperatly tries to keep Kirchhofer behind him and stay in the lead lap, but it doesnt work. On lap 145 Kirchhofer makes his pitstop and Wilke can claim a couple of lead laps. Taggeselle pits in at lap 147, Wilke on lap 154, Jonke even 2 laps later. Jonke gets out of the pits at 6th place, behind Mirko Hempel and Taggeselle.
Aulmann is now the man in 3rd place, but Taggeselle gets him on lap 169. On lap 175 Wilke gets his lap back on Kirchhofer and is now back in the lead lap. On lap 182, the first and only caution of the day. Jonke (holding 5th), has to brake for Leemann out of T4. They touch briefly and Jonke swerves to the inside. There he is collected by leader Kirchhofer and hits the inner wall hard. On the rebound he misses the leader by inches. Car is still running afterwards, but without a front spoiler a longer repair is necessary. Jonke will finish 13th.
Kirchhofer uses the caution for a slightly longer pitstop and Wilke is right there to take the lead. On the restart the grid looks like this: Wilke and Kirchhofer, Taggeselle and Aulmann (+1L), Hempel and Daniel Franzke (+2L). Kirchhofer makes use of every inch of track on the restart and Wilke on the inside can only watch. Aulmann can’t keep up with Taggeselle, but Franzke keeps close to Mirko Hempels Chevy and on lap 195 makes the pass. He continues to charge up front and takes 4th on lap 231 from Aulmann. Aulmanns car seems to be ill handling, he loses position after position. Hempel passes him on lap 247 and Matthias Bayer on lap 253.
Kirchhofer continues to pull away lap after lap. Wilke was able to keep up in traffic, but at the finish line he has lost half a lap. Florian Kirchhofer wins Britol and makes it a triple. Andreas Wilke 2nd and Peter Taggeselle 3rd. Daniel Franzke with a strong finish in 4th, Mirko Hempel is highest climber in 5th and Matthias Bayer 6th.
Championship leader now is Florian Kirchhofer, naturally. Andreas Wilke trails him by 3 points. Peter Taggeselle keeps his 3rd position. Hauke Grotheer loses points and is now 4th. Robert Graf gets 5th from missing Stefan Lippert. Team championship couldn’t be more close. Team HPM still in lead and DIHL second, but its now only 1 point difference. DIHL.AT still in 3rd place.
Kentucky is next!
I started this race with a good strategy. My car was not the fastest, but I could go 150 laps easily. So one stop it was and up to the stop everything worked brilliantly. After the stop I had gained 7th and was sure to rise higher. Unfortunately I had a misunderstanding with Marivn Aulmann on overtaking: He was on the high line and came down, expecting me to stay on the low line. I was on the low line and came up, expecting him to stay high. Since we couldnt see each other, we just drove into each other and he sent me spinning into the wall. Classic accident and a long repair thereafter. With 30 laps down, 12th place was fortunate, but not the outcome I expected.