Ascari's Breakthrough Win


Werner Lupberger and Ben Collins gave Team Ascari an unforgettable win at Donington Park in an eventful afternoon of world class sportscar action today in the 6th round of the FIA Sportscar Championship. The silver A410 finally took its debut victory after over a year of being on the cusp of breaking through in to the winners circle.

The Judd powered car capitalised on the misfortune of the two Dome cars that locked out the front row of the grid during yesterdays qualifying session. But this was nothing other than a well-deserved victory for the Ascari team who have worked flat out to turn the car in to a winning force. Both Ben Collins and Werner Lupberger acknowledged the hard work everyone had put in to the project. "The whole team deserve this win," said Lupberger, "It was a great moment taking the chequered flag today and even though the others had problems, we showed we had race winning pace throughout."

Werner's partner Ben Collins made a superb start to climb from 5th place up to 3rd and he soon dispatched of John Nielsen who held second in the opening portion of the race. "Once I was past John I could up my pace", said Ben," and despite the tyres going off, when I handed over to Werner, the car ran perfectly."

The win for the Banbury based team sends them in to a three way fight in the title race with Den Bla Avis Dome, who finished 5th after a selection of problems, and Scuderia Italia who came in 2nd after a cautious race reaped them another 15 points.

The Brescia based team was not on the pace of the Ascari and Dome's all weekend despite the flat out style of Jean Marc Gounon. The Frenchman, whose main aim is to help Marco Zadra in his title quest, encountered problems from the start. "The engine cut out at the start and I dropped back in the early stages. Finishing 2nd today was quite lucky but I am sure Marco will not care about that too much," explained the ex F1 driver

The Racing For Holland Dome had controlled most of the race with Jan Lammers cruising in to a comfortable lead early on. Even a Safety Car period after 45 minutes didn't stop the Dutchman rebuilding his lead and handing over a 30-second cushion to his team mate Val Hillebrand. The 19 year old picked up where his mentor left off but was soon to relinquish it after two slices of bad luck. "One of my tearoff visors went in to the airbox and I had to have it removed as it was decreasing the power of the engine. Then I had a wheel come loose and had to make another stop and that meant any chance of victory was gone. It is a big shame as we had it in the bag today."

More bad luck befell the other Dome of John Nielsen and Hiroki Katoh who looked to be heading for at least a podium position until the Japanese spun exiting Goddard's after hitting a chunk of rubber while defending his position from eventual winner Lupberger. Hiroki lost a minute before regaining the track and that was compounded when he suffered a slow puncture on the very last lap, letting the Lola Roush of Robbie Stirling through in to 4th place.

Sam Hancock had earlier enjoyed an energetic battle with Gounon's Ferrari for 4th and the Londoner fended off his more experienced rival until the second round of stops. Sam though had battled through the opening laps with a rather unusual problem. "My drinks bottle exploded on the formation lap, but apart from that I had a great battle with Jean Marc and could hold him off quite comfortably."

The Redman Bright run Reynard 01Q of Mark Smithson and Peter Owen finished 6th on the teams home track while the R&M Riley & Scott of Mauro Baldi and Alex Caffi wound up a lowly 9th after electric problems. The Ferrari Judd of GLV Brums eventually retired with a broken clutch after being delayed in the opening laps with the same problem.

SR2 saw a popular home victory for Martin O'Connell and Warren Carway in the Rowan Racing Pilbeam Nissan as they followed up their Magny Cours win with a similar victory over the Swedish Lola. Warren Carway got a fantastic start to go from fifth to first, but he soon came under intense pressure from the B2K chassis of Larry Oberto. However a stuck wheel nut cost the Swedes precious time at the second stop and once Martin O'Connell took over, the win was Rowan's. "This puts us just ten points behind now", said a delighted Carway after the race, "and we can't wait for Mondello next weekend," added the Irishman

Completing the podium were Team Sovereign with Ian Flux and Mike Millard in the Rapier 6 after overcoming problems in qualifying. It completed a memorable climax for Flux who was competing in his 500th ever race.

After a superb performance to complete a clean sweep at the front of the grid in qualifying Lucchini Engineering had a bitterly disappointing raceday. Pole winners Piergiuseppe Peroni and Sebastian Ugeux crashed out of third place when Piergiuseppe put a wheel on the kerb exiting Goddards causing the Safety Car to be deployed and the teams sister car driven by Mauro Prospero and Denny Zardo retired with overheating problems .

Roberto Tonetti and Massimo Saccomanno had led during the pit stops at the midway point but after a spin by Massimo at Redgate they spiralled down the order to 5th place ahead of Pierre Bruneau's Debora. Randaccio and Maddalena's SCI prepared Lucchini came in 6th after electrical trouble delayed them.

Team Swara and Redman Bright both hit trouble with clutch and suspension problems respectively while the BM Autosport Tampolli succumbed with an engine failure, the team taking little consolation from setting fastest lap when Massimo Monti took over.