x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Peyroles has one eye on his rearview mirror

Arnaud Peyroles and his Martini Callaway Corvette Z.06R teammate James Ruffier enter the final two races of the FIA GT3 European Championship knowing well that an "all-out attack" is on the cards.

DUBAI // Arnaud Peyroles and his Martini Callaway Corvette Z.06R teammate James Ruffier enter the final two races of the FIA GT3 European Championship knowing well that an "all-out attack" is on the cards. Come the Dubai Racing weekend, the Frenchman Peyroles is battling to protect his eight-point lead in the championship with up to five others having a chance to lift the title. The championship, open only to non-professional drivers, has produced six different winners in 10 races this season with Peyroles and Ruffier winning the second at Nogaro and picking up points in seven of the races.

Peyroles hopes they can continue their good form and said: "I am really looking forward to the races here. We know it will be a tough race, even with our eight-point advantage; we hope it will be enough, but we can't be sure. "There will be no calculations involved; it will just be all-out attack." Ruffier added: "I don't think anyone can be confident of taking the title, even us with our points advantage. For sure it is better to be eight points ahead than eight points behind, but it's not going to be easy."

The French pair's nearest rivals are Ian Khan and Thomas Mutsch from the Matech GT Racing Ford GT, who have won three races this season. However, they could win points in only on e other race and are placed second with 36 points each. "We have to win one race and finish on the podium in the other - anything less just won't be enough," Mutsch said. "It's been a really strange season. After 10 races we have only scored 36 points, and yet we are second in the championship.

"We are under pressure now. From leading the championship we have fallen to second, and other cars are closing in on us, so it's up to us to win it." Just one point behind Khan and Mutsch are Thomas Accary and Pierre-Brice Mena, in the Hexis Racing Aston Martin DBRS9. The two have won 23 points in the last three races and hoping for a final hurray. "It would be great to win and we are determined to fight for it," Mena said. "We are nine points behind, so we're not in complete control of our destiny; a top three finish will be great."

Accary added: "I am preparing myself physically and mentally to fight for the title and the whole Accary family is crossing their fingers." Bradley Ellis, who won the 2007 British GT Championship, is level on points with Accary and Mena. "I think we've got as good a chance of anyone," he said. "We went to the final round of the British GT Championship last year eight points behind, and we won that. So it can definitely be done."

While the Teams' Championship has not yet been decided, Matech GT Racing have one hand on the trophy. They bring a 26-point lead over Hexis Racing to Dubai - and although a Hexis 1-2-3 in each race would net them 48 points, it seems almost certain that Matech GT Racing will take the title. @Email:arizvi@thenational.ae