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Mullen makes most of French facilities


Published 21/08/2006

PORTADOWN'S Tim Mullen and Canadian co-driver Chris Niarchos had plenty to celebrate last night after the French round of the FIA GT Championship.

PORTADOWN'S Tim Mullen and Canadian co-driver Chris Niarchos had plenty to celebrate last night after the French round of the FIA GT Championship.

And they were in the perfect place to do it !

For the Paul Ricard circuit in the hills behind Marseilles boasts some of the best facilities at any track anywhere in the world - facilities that include a luxury hotel.

The Ulster-Canadian partnership drove a near-perfect race yesterday to secure the runner-up position in the GT2 category, just a few feet behind Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari team mates Andrew Kircaldy and Nathan Kinch.

Mullen had, in fact, spent some time leading the category before team leader Kircaldy moved ahead during the final round of pit stops.

The three-hour race, run in hot sunshine, was dominated by the Belgian-owned Chevrolet Corvette of Anthony Kumpen Mike Hezemans and Bert Longin.

In the GP2 section however, the Scottish-entered Ferraris were the class of the field, leading throughout, having set the pace in practice on Saturday. They also placed ninth and tenth overall, in among the more powerful GT1 machinery.

Tim's next European outing will be at Dijon in a couple of weeks time.

In the meantime though, he and Chris will continue with their bid to take the British GT crown.

Mullen and Niarchos are currently leading.

Closer to home, Conor Lavery made history at Garron Point hill climb yesterday by becoming the first saloon car driver in many years to take outright victory in a Championship event.

ALLAN McNish tightened his grip on a second American Le Mans Series title despite the "Flying Scotsman" being denied a fifth outright race victory in round seven at Road America.

Audi team-mates Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro claimed an amazing race victory when the latter snatched the race lead from McNish's co-driver Dindo Capello with just 20 minutes remaining in his similar diesel-powered Audi car.

Dumfries-born McNish started his Audi R10 TDI from pole-position on the 23-car despite only driving around the undulating 14-corner, 4.048-mile circuit for the first time the previous day.

2000 ALMS champion McNish handed over to Italian co-driver Capello in first place after 71 of the 165-minute race duration during the second full course yellow period.

Capello headed an Audi 1-2 after 90mins, the "sister" R10 TDI of Biela/Pirro which had started from the front row, surviving a trip in to the gravel at the first corner on the opening lap after being hit by a fast-starting James Weaver necessitating an early pit-stop dropping them to the back of the field.

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