Brno: Round three preview

LG Super Racing Weekends - Round 3 - Brno (CZE) May 17th - 19th 2002 The third round of the LG Super Racing Weekend series will see the cars and drivers of the FIA GT and European Touring Car Championships travel to the Masaryk circuit in the...

LG Super Racing Weekends - Round 3 - Brno (CZE)
May 17th - 19th 2002

The third round of the LG Super Racing Weekend series will see the cars and drivers of the FIA GT and European Touring Car Championships travel to the Masaryk circuit in the Czech Republic. This historic track is situated 16 km from Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic, and is 200 km to the south-east of the beautiful capital city of Prague.

There has been motor racing at the Masaryk circuit since 1930, when the first race took place on a 30-km track, made up of ordinary roads. The track was shortened over the years, and a new permanent circuit was opened in 1987. With uphill and downhill sections and a good variety of fast and slow corners, the track is generally popular with the drivers. Brno will not only be the scene of the third round of the 2002 FIA GT Championship and the fifth and sixth rounds of the FIA European Touring Car Championship, but will also host the third round of the FIA Sportscar Championship, for an exciting alliance between the dramatic sports prototypes, the exclusive GT sports cars and the door-to-door racing of the touring cars. This is the first time in recent history that three major FIA Championships have raced side by side for one event.

The last time a joint race was held was at Monza in 2000, when the FIA GT Championship and the then-named Sports Racing World Cup each completed 500 km of the legendary 1000 km of Monza. The addition of the FIA European Touring Car Championship makes it a unique occasion to see so many different types of cars in action at one track. The two Renault Sport series and the Lamborghini Supertrophy will be back in action at the fourth round, which will be held at the Spanish track of Jarama, between May 31st and June 2nd.

Last year, the second round of the FIA GT Championship was held at Brno, and the exceptionally cold weather saw a practice session interrupted due to snow for the first time in the Championship's history. However, the race turned out to be both exciting and close. Larbre Competition Chéreau took its first overall win, with its Chrysler Viper GTS-R in the hands of Christophe Bouchut and Jean-Philippe Belloc. The French team proceeded to take both the Teams and Drivers titles later in the season. The N-GT win went to German team RWS Motorsport, with a Porsche 996 GT3-R driven by Dieter Quester and Luca Riccitelli. However, they crossed the line close ahead of the JMB Competition Ferrari 360 Modena of David Terrien and Christian Pescatori, signalling the start of a battle that was to continue until the very end of the 2001 season. Both teams finished on equal points, but JMB claimed the title due to the number of victories. This year, the battles look to be equally fierce in both categories, with both Larbre Competition Chéreau and Carsport Holland still looking for their first win of the season, while the Porsche competitors in the N-GT category are still trying to break the dominance of the JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena cars

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

Circuit Length:
5.4032 km/ 3.35 miles

On air on Eurosport:
Saturday 18th May 2002
19:00 -- 20:00: Highlights

Sunday 19th May 2002
15:15 -- 16:15 : FIA European Touring Car Championship Races -- LIVE
19:00 -- 20:00 : FIA GT Race - highlights

FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP
An exciting race at Silverstone, held during the evening, saw Paul Belmondo Racing claim its first win since the Hungaroring in 2000. After a race which saw numerous lead changes, as well as a closely contended fight in the N-GT category, Fabio Babini and Marc Duez, in the nr 12 Chrysler Viper GTS-R, took the win ahead of the Lister Storm of Bobby Verdon-Roe and Paul Knapfield, and the Larbre Competition Chéreau Chrysler Viper GTS-R, shared by Bouchut, Vosse and Terrien. JMB Racing's all-Italian line-up of Christian Pescatori and Andrea Montermini won the N-GT race in their Ferrari 360 Modena, ahead of Johnny Mowlem and Toto Wolff in the Autorlando Sport Porsche 996 GT3-R, to further extend their lead in both the Team and Drivers classifications. After two wins, the nr 50 Ferrari will be carrying 40 kg of penalty weight, which could be a factor at Brno's twisting circuit.

GT CHAMPIONSHIP

LISTER STORM RACING INCREASES LEAD (1st in GT, 19 points)
Despite an incident-filled race, the British team is still leading both the Team and Drivers classifications after the first two rounds of the season. The nr 14 Lister Storm of Jamie Campbell-Walter and Nicolaus Springer finished in fourth place, after a fuel problem followed by a puncture meant a total of 5 pit stops. The nr 15 Storm, driven by Bobby Verdon-Roe and Paul Knapfield, finished second and ten seconds behind the leader, despite having had three spins during the three-hour race. "Our fortunes were a bit mixed, but we still came out shining, which is quite encouraging," Jamie Campbell-Walter said. "Our pace is excellent, and the tyre combination very good. However, at the end of the season, races like Silverstone, which we should have won, could make the difference. You are never on top for very long in a close Championship like this one, as the other cars catch up quickly. So we can't afford to make small mistakes." Both Jamie and Nick like the Czech track. "It's a relatively easy track for drivers, and it is easy to set the cars up, as there are neither really fast or really slow corners. It is a very nice track, with the changes of elevation, and very picturesque. But I am sure it will level the field out, and the advantage we have had so far will not be so big."

FIRST WIN FOR PAUL BELMONDO RACING SINCE 2000 (Joint 2nd in GT, 11 points)
Fabio Babini and Marc Duez gave Paul Belmondo Racing its first win in the FIA GT Championship since the fifth round of the 2000 season, at the Hungaroring. It was also the first time that an Italian driver had taken an overall win in the Championship since 1997, when both Roberto Ravaglia and Alessandro Nannini claimed victory in the GT1 category, and the first overall win for tyre manufacturer Pirelli "I am very pleased; it was a good weekend for the whole team," Babini said. "The team has a lot of new personnel, who have had to learn to work together, so it is a very good start to the season. I am also very pleased for Paul, who has worked hard for this success. Marc is a very good team-mate and a very good friend; he has a lot of experience and has helped me to adapt to my first season in the GT class. I do not know the Chrysler Viper GTS-R very well yet; the car is not difficult to drive, but it is not easy either. I need more time to know it better. As for Brno, it is a track I love. There are a lot of corners, and you have to use the steering wheel a lot as you go up and down. I hope we will have another good race !" Paul Belmondo and Claude-Yves Gosselin finished in sixth place at Silverstone to further increase the team's points. At Brno, Belmondo will share the nr 11 Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper GTS-R with Belgian driver Robert Dierick. Dierick drove a number of rounds of the 2001 Championship in the Silver Racing Chrysler Viper, culminating with a third place finish in the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa.

TEAM CARSPORT HOLLAND LOOKS FOR FIRST WIN (Joint 2nd in GT, 11 points)
Carsport Holland looked like dominating the Silverstone round of the FIA GT Championship, until gearbox problems immobilised the nr 3 Chrysler Viper at the side of the track. "I think we showed the high potential of the car during round 2," Anthony Kumpen explained afterwards. "One benefit is that we go to the third round without any handicap weight, which would be more penalising at Brno, due to the nature of the circuit. This could make a big difference during the race and under braking, so it will give us a small advantage against some of our rivals. We have had a lot of bad luck this season -- the exploding brake disc at Magny Cours, the front splitter and then the gearbox here - which means our results do not really show our true position as one of the fastest cars in the field. Brno is a nice track and I think it is good for the Viper. I started from pole in the Paul Belmondo Viper last year, and remember the Carsport Holland car passing me after three laps. I hope the car will be as quick as it was then !" The team's nr 4 Chrysler Viper, driven by Italians Luca Cappellari and Fabrizio Gollin, finished fifth at Silverstone after a fourth-place finish at Magny Cours.

"It's very good for the team, and very motivating for the mechanics to see the other car finishing so strongly. They are very reliable, and it makes us a very consistent team."

BERETTA JOINS ART FOR BRNO
As François Lafon, the regular driver of the nr 9 ART Chrysler Viper GTS-R is unable to drive at Brno due to business commitments, the team have called in a replacement to take his place alongside Jean-Pierre Jarier : Olivier Beretta. The driver from Monaco is no stranger to the FIA GT Championship, as he competed for Chrysler Viper Team Oreca between 1997 and 1999, winning the FIA GT2 Drivers Championship with Pedro Lamy in 1998, and the overall title in 1999, when he drove with Karl Wendlinger. Remaining with Oreca, Beretta is currently leading the FIA Sportscar Championship in the team's Judd-engined Oreca Dallara prototype. "Obviously, Beretta has a lot of experience with the car, as he has been an Oreca driver for many years," Jarier said. "So far this season, Lister has dominated easily, and if they do not have any problems, I think that will continue. But I think that if we do not have any mechanical problems, we can aim for a good result. We are both fast drivers, and should make a well-balanced team. Moreover, the Chrysler Viper GTS-R has been running in the 2001 configuration for the first two races, but for Brno, it will have been updated with the 2002 evolutions, so everything should be good."

N-GT CHAMPIONSHIP

JMB RACING DOUBLES ITS POINTS (1st in N-GT, 28 points)
As at Magny Cours, JMB Racing placed its two Ferrari 360 Modena cars in first and third place, with Christian Pescatori and Andrea Montermini taking their first on-track victory after a steady race. Andrea Garbagnati and Andrea Bertolini completed the team's excellent result, celebrating their first podium with third, while the sole JMB Competition car finished in sixth place, the second car having been withdrawn after accident damage during qualifying.

"It has been pretty good so far," Montermini said. "Everything is going well, and we are working hard for the next race, with the team and with Pirelli, who is a very good partner. I am really adapting well, especially to the car, which is very different from everything else I have driven. It is a very big challenge, but I am enjoying it very much, and working hard for the Championship, which would be my first international title, so something to really aim for."

JVG RACING LYING SECOND (2nd in N-GT, 9 points) The team set up by German driver Jürgen von Gartzen continues to do well in the N-GT class of the FIA GT Championship. After finishing second at Magny Cours, the nr 60 Porsche 996 GT3-R was fourth at Silverstone, placing the team second in the Teams classification. "We were actually a bit disappointed with our Silverstone result," British driver Ian Khan explained. "A mistimed pit-stop cost us 40 seconds, which could have put us up to second place. However, we are very happy with our season so far, especially given the level of the competition." Khan has raced in most categories over the past years, including the British Touring Car Championship and the Clio Trophy. "However, I am hoping to settle down in GT racing where I feel I should be." He has never raced at Brno before. "It will be my first visit to the Czech Republic, and I am looking forward to it. Everyone tells me the circuit is fantastic."

AUTORLANDO DELIGHTED WITH SILVERSTONE RESULT (3rd in N-GT, 8 points)
Toto Wolff and Johnny Mowlem put in an excellent performance at Silverstone to finish in second place in the N-GT class. At Brno, Wolff will be joined once more by fellow Austrian, Philipp Peter. "Apart from a stop and go, we had a problem-free race at Silverstone, which was good," Toto Wolff. "I am really looking forward to Brno, as it is a track I know very well; it is quite close to my home, and I like it very much. It's a real drivers track, very long and interesting, and quite difficult to learn properly. I did not have that sort of local knowledge at Silverstone, so I am feeling very positive."

- www.superracingweekends.com

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Fabrizio Gollin , Karl Wendlinger , Christian Pescatori , Pedro Lamy , Alessandro Nannini , Jamie Campbell-Walter , Andrea Montermini , Jean-Philippe Belloc , Anthony Kumpen , Luca Riccitelli , Christophe Bouchut , David Terrien , Dieter Quester , Jean-Pierre Jarier , Paul Belmondo , Johnny Mowlem , Andrea Garbagnati , Nicolaus Springer , Fabio Babini , Ian Khan , Andrea Bertolini , Claude-Yves Gosselin , Bobby Verdon-Roe , Luca Cappellari , Marc Duez , Roberto Ravaglia , Jurgen von Gartzen , Toto Wolff , Philipp Peter , Robert Dierick
Teams Larbre Competition