The most exciting race of the season did not leave anyone cold: Dominator Ingo Gerstl had to push, and Marc Faggionato drove the race of his life.
The BOSS GP’s brute sound attracted numerous spectators to the Automotodrom in Brno – and nobody regretted it. Exciting position fights wherever you looked. A little bit of touching and wheelbanging were the spice in this afternoon’s program.
That the victory would lead over Ingo Gerstl (AUT, Top Speed) was less surprising. The fans liked the fact that the man from Salzburg had to fight his way through the field again after a pit stop and challenged Gerstl more than expected. Although no new lap record was set, with 1:37.751 Gerstl in the Toro Rosso STR1, however, set a speedy time and won in the end sovereign.
Phil Stratford (USA, Penn Elcom Racing) took the lead for four laps, in the end it was only enough to finish in 2nd place. The Benetton driver had to save his tyres on the front axle, Wolfgang Jaksch (DEU, F Xtreme Racing) caught up Stratford in big steps towards the end. The Super Aguri of Jaksch crossed the finish line just a few metres behind Stratford.
The man of the race comes from the FORMULA class: Marc Faggionato (MCO, ZIG-ZAG Motorsport) could not participate in qualifying with a clutch problem. Only the good practice times helped him to get permission to start in the race. In the first race Faggionato roared furiously from 15th on the grid to 4th on the grid. This meant not only overtaking eleven opponents, but also the victory in the FORMULA class for GP2, Auto GP and similar vehicles.
But it was a tough fight for Faggionato, especially when it comes to the fight for podium and the victory. The positions changed several times, Bernd Herndlhofer (AUT, H&A Racing) in the first race with his own car in the 2018 season could defend himself the longest and led the class at the beginning of the race. Also pole setter Salvatore De Plano (ITA, MM International) countered once. In lap 8, however, Faggionato grabbed both opponents for victory and drove away the pack.
The group behind was led by Armando Mangini (ITA, MM International). He also showed an outstanding performance from 13th position on the grid. Even if Florian Schnitzenbaumer (DEU, Top Speed) had speculated on a podium place, rank 5 in the FORMULA meant the extension of the lead in the points standings to Andreas Fiedler (DEU, Fiedler Racing). Fiedler finished sixth, ahead of Peter Göllner (SUI, Speed Center), who was able to assert himself against an aggressive Nicolas Matile (MCO, ZIG-ZAG Motorsport) in the only Lola Zytec Auto GP.
The 15 drivers did not give away a single meter in the 20-minute race. They also fought for 9th place in the FORMULA until the finish line, as if it were a question of victory. Walter Steding (9th), Thomas Jakoubek (10th), Christian Eicke (11th) and local hero Veronika Cicha (12th) took part in this sensational fight.
Tomorrow, Sunday, a decision can already be made in the championship, both for Ingo Gerstl in the OPEN and for team mate Florian Schnitzenbaumer (both Top Speed) in the FORMULA. The pit lane for race 2 opens at 12:15 local time.
Quotes after the race:
Ingo Gerstl (1st place OPEN): “Good for the fans, if they like what we do. The show was great, that’s what we need.”
Marc Faggionato (1st place FORMULA): “That was really good. Sometimes it was pretty close with the others. It’s nice that in the end I could drive faster than the two OPEN cars in front of me. But from the very back I just can’t do more. Tomorrow I have to start from the back again. I hope it works that way again.”
Phil Stratford (2nd place OPEN): “I would have had to lead six more laps, then I would have won. (laughs) In the end, I divided up the pace to stay ahead of Wolfgang.”
Bernd Herndlhofer (2nd place FORMULA): “Good race and good result, but I still can’t manage the car as I want. The set-up of the car is not good enough, I’m sure I can still improve”.
Pictures: Michael Jurtin/BOSS GP