Brno: Friday practice report

Free Practice Sessions For the fifth round of 2004, the FIA GT Championship has returned to the Czech circuit of Brno. Popular with teams and drivers, the technical and challenging circuit, with its variety of corners and undulating terrain, ...

Free Practice Sessions

For the fifth round of 2004, the FIA GT Championship has returned to the Czech circuit of Brno. Popular with teams and drivers, the technical and challenging circuit, with its variety of corners and undulating terrain, has seen some of the most exciting and closest GT races in recent years. This year should be no exception, with the free practice sessions showing that the Ferrari 550 Maranello cars are competitive despite heavy penalty weights, the Creation Autosportif Lister Storm is on the pace and the Saleen cars are performing extremely well. The N-GT class should be equally close, with the two leading Porsche cars and the Ferrari 360 Modena all setting close times in today's three hours of practice.

Hockenheim results declared final
The fuel tests carried out on cars nr 1, 27, 62 and 99 after the Hockenheim race proved to be satisfactory. Therefore the results of the Hockenheim race have been declared final.

Last year
The fourth round of the 2003 season took place in Brno, where Bobbi and Biagi took their fourth consecutive win, despite having 100 kg penalty weight in their Ferrari 550 Maranello. They were followed by Deletraz and Piccini, in the nr 15 Lister Storm, Gollin and Cappellari in the nr 22 BMS Ferrari and Campbell-Walter and Kinch in the nr 14 Lister, all three cars racing within a few seconds of each other for the final half an hour.

In N-GT, reigning Champion Ortelli and his team-mate Marc Lieb took their first win of the season ahead of the Ferrari 360 cars of JMB Racing and Team Maranello Concessionaires.

Weather
Dry and cool in the the morning, the skies clouded over during the midday pause, and it started to rain lightly when the second free practice session started. The track was declared wet, but the weather then remained dry, the track drying.

Handicap Weights
After winning in Hockenheim, Bobbi and Gardel in the nr 1 BMS Ferrari have 80 kg, while their team-mates in the nr 2 Ferrari have 100 kg. The nr 3 Care Racing Ferrari, third in Hockenheim, has 20 kg. In N-GT, both the nr 50 and nr 99 Porsches have 50 kg, while the nr 62 Ferrari has just 20 kg.

Paddock News

- 25 cars will be taking part in Sunday's race, 16 in the GT class and 9 in the N-GT class

- Machanek Racing has joined the N-GT class, entering two Porsche 996 GT3 cars. Drivers include Rudolf Machanek and Jaroslav Honzik in the nr 60 car, with Istvan Racz and Josef Venc sharing the nr 61. Venc previously drove in the Championship at Brno two years ago.

- Vonka Racing's Porsche is shared by Jan Vonka and Miro Konopka for this race, as in Valencia.

- Familiar faces Horst Felbermayr Sr. and Jr. are back in the Championship, with a Porsche 996 GT3 entered by JVG Racing, the team run by Jurgen von Gartzen, himself a frequent competitor and racer in the Championship.

- Former race-winner and Monza 2003 pole setter Anthony Kumpen has returned to the Championship for Brno. He will run in the nr 28 Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7, alongside Italians Paolo Ruberti and Luca Pirri Ardizzone.

- Brazilian F3000 Euro Series Champion and Formula Renault V6 race winner Jaime Melo Jr, of Brazil, has joined the Championship, racing alongside Karl Wendlinger in the nr 17 JMB Racing Ferrari 575 M Maranello. Robert Lechner moves to the nr 18 car with Longin and Khan, while Toto Wolff has been forced to miss this race due to health problems. We all wish him a speedy recovery.

- Maciej Marcinkiewicz, of Poland, is racing the nr 69 Proton Competition Porsche alongside Gerold and Christian Ried; he already raced for the team in Monza and Valencia.

- Pole sitter at Hockenheim and Magny-Cours, Walter Lechner Jr is not at Brno, due to a clash with the Porsche Supercup. He should be back for the next race in Donington. He is replaced for Brno by Harald Becker, seen in the GNM Saleen in Monza.

- Following the fire which engulfed its Storm at Hockenheim, Lister Racing has been forced to miss the Brno round. The team stated that it will be back at Donington.

- Wieth Racing has also pulled out of Brno. The team stated that they will now concentrate on solving all the outstanding conformity issues and getting final clearance before taking part at the next race." It was not easy for the team to make this decision, especially with the background of the good performance of the car in the last races," team manager Florian Hebel explained.

First free practice session:

Vitaphone Saleen and GPC Ferrari lead in Brno The Vitaphone Racing Team Saleen S7, driven by Michael Bartels and Uwe Alzen, was fastest in the first 90-minute practice session. The first to lead the session was the nr 27 Creation Autosportif Lister Storm, with Jamie Campbell-Walter setting a time of 1:57.969. The Vitaphone Saleen was the next to go fastest, first with a lap of 1:57.793, which it later improved to 1:57.223, the fastest by seven tenths of a second.

The nr 3 Care Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello was third fastest, just ahead of the nr 2 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello of Gollin and Cappellari, which is carrying 100 kg penalty weight. The nr 17 JMB Racing was the fastest of the Ferrari 575 M Maranello cars, with Matteo Bobbi and the nr 1 BMS Ferrari rounding off the top six.

In N-GT, the nr 62 GPC Giesse Ferrari 360 Modena was fastest throughout, setting a time of 2:02.293, two tenths faster than the nr 99 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS of Maassen and Luhr. Ortelli and Collard were third, ahead of Russian duo Vasiliev and Fomenko, with the nr 61 Machanek Racing car the best of the newcomers in fifth.

Second free practice session:

BMS and Freisinger Yukos fastest The track was declared wet, after a heavy shower between the sessions and light rain at the start. However, the rain did not grow heavier and times nearly went down to those set in the morning.

Due to the conditions, the session saw a lot more changes than in the morning. Initially, the nr 11 GPC Giesse Ferrari was fastest; a rush of improvements 25 minutes into the session saw the nr 9 Zwaan's Racing Chrysler Viper take the lead with a lap of 2:00.459. Five minutes later, the nr 1 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari took a big step forward, setting a time of 1:58.344, with the nr 8 RML Saleen posting an excellent time of 1:59.152 to go second. At this point, the nr 62 Ferrari led the N-GT category, with a time of 2:03.815, but its time was soon bettered by the nr 50 Freisinger, which set a time of 2:03.444. In the last half an hour, the nr 27 Lister Storm improved to third. The nr 5 Vitaphone Saleen finally took to the track, after changes made by the team between the sessions took longer than expected, improving rapidly to fifth.

By the end of the session, the nr 1 BMS car of Bobbi and Gardel was fastest, with a time of 1:58.344, ahead of the nr 8 RML Saleen S7, with the nr 27 Creation Autosportif car third and the nr 7 RML Saleen fourth -- an excellent performance from the British team. The Vitaphone Saleen was fifth, ahead of the nr 9 Zwaan's Racing Chrysler Viper and the nr 28 Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen.

In N-GT, the nr 50 Freisinger Yukos Porsche was fastest, with a time of 2:03.444, ahead of the nr 62 GPC Ferrari 360 Modena, with the nr 99 Freisinger Porsche third.

-fia-

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Michael Bartels , Matteo Bobbi , Jaime Melo , Anthony Kumpen , Marc Lieb , Christian Ried , Jan Vonka , Rudolf Machanek , Robert Lechner , Istvan Racz , Josef Venc , Harald Becker , Luca Pirri Ardizzone , Toto Wolff , Horst Felbermayr Sr. , Miro Konopka
Teams Proton Competition