Dijon: Round six preview

A FINE VINTAGE IN BURGUNDY The FIA GT Championship's summer holiday in France continues with round six, which will be held at the circuit of Dijon-Prenois, in the heart of the Burgundy region. Last visited back in 1998, the challenging ...

A FINE VINTAGE IN BURGUNDY

The FIA GT Championship's summer holiday in France continues with round six, which will be held at the circuit of Dijon-Prenois, in the heart of the Burgundy region. Last visited back in 1998, the challenging circuit will host the 100th race in the history of the Championship. The cars may have changed since its last visit there, but the racing promises to be even better !

Last weekend's competition at the stunning Paul Ricard HTTT circuit had the effect of closing up the ranks. The nr 4 GLPK Carsport Corvette C6 claimed its first FIA GT victory, and Scuderia Ecosse took a fine one-two in GT2, while the Championship leaders in both categories struggled with the maximum handicap weight. GT1 leaders Bertolini and Bartels, with the nr 1 Vitaphone Maserati MC12, and their nearest rivals Deletraz and Piccini in the Phoenix Aston Martin DBR9, will both have lighter cars for Dijon, where the extra kilos will make life difficult due to the hilly nature of the track. However, they will have plenty of rivals for the prestige of winning the 100th race, not least from the nr 2 Vitaphone Maserati, where Biagi and Davies are hoping to put their early season troubles behind them, and from the Race Alliance DBR9, which claimed its best result to date with fourth in round five. Dijon will also see the Red Racing Lister Storm line up on the grid, while the Lamborghini Murcielago should make a welcome return.

And the Pagani Zonda is hoping to make its FIA GT debut, with an all-Czech line-up. In GT2, AF Corse still leads both classifications, but full points for Scuderia Ecosse has moved them closer, and the team is determined to catch up with their Italian rivals.

Not forgetting JMB-GruppeM, victorious in Brno and a podium finisher at the Paul Ricard HTTT. Although the Ferrari 430 GT2 cars have dominated the season so far, the Porsche cars are not far behind, and Italian team Ebimotors must surely be due a change of luck after a number of problems in the past two rounds. The packed weekend of on-track action will include the FIA GT3 European Championship, the FIA Historic Racing Championships and single-seater competition from the Formula Palmer Audi. A special exhibition dedicated to the 100 FIA GT races will include the magnificent BMW Motorsport McLaren F1 GTR victorious in round 1...

WHAT THE DRIVERS THINK...

"This is the second French circuit of the year, and Dijon is very different from the other circuits we will be visiting. It's a fast track, with a very long straight preceded by a fast corner with a reverse camber. It will be necessary to have a specific set-up for Dijon, which is a very historic circuit. Everyone still remembers the famous battle between Arnoux and Villeneuve when this circuit hosted the Formula One GrandPrix." Christophe Bouchut, All-Inkl.com Lamborghini Murcielago

"Dijon is a challenging track, but it is not so difficult to learn as it is quite short. On the other hand there are some blind corners, where you need to find the exact line. This will be one of the most difficult tracks to pass your opponents and even the back markers. A good starting position is very important. The track is quite bumpy which makes it quite difficult to set-up the car. " Anthony Kumpen, GLPK Carsport Corvette C6

DIJON-PRENOIS : A LONG HISTORY

The circuit of Dijon-Prenois has been at the centre of many events which have gone down in the history of motorsport, such as the first Formula One victory for Renault in 1979 - eclipsed by the unforgettable battle for second between Arnoux and Villeneuve - while Alain Prost claimed his first victory at the track in 1981. The project was launched in 1968 by Francois Chambelland; the track was opened on May 26th 1972, with the first event, a round of the European Prototype Championship, being held on June 4th that year. Between 1974 and 1984, it hosted rounds of the French Formula One Grand Prix, as well as the Swiss Formula One Grand Prix.

Race winners included Ronnie Peterson, Clay Regazzoni, Mario Andretti, Jean-Pierre Jabouille, Alain Prost, Keke Rosberg and Niki Lauda. The circuit continued to hold rounds of the Formula 3000 Championship and the World Sports Prototype Championship. In the 1990's, it hosted the European Truck Championship.

In 1998, the FIA GT Championship, then in its second year, raced at the track. Victory went to the AMG Mercedes CLK of Ricardo Zonta and Klaus Ludwig, after Mark Webber spun and hit the barriers 22 laps from the end. Second place went to the Porsche AG car of Allan McNish and Yannick Dalmas, with the Panoz of Eric Bernard and David Brabham third. In the GT2 category, Olivier Beretta and Pedro Lamy won the GT2 class in the Viper Team Oreca Chrysler Viper, ahead of Donohue and Wendlinger, with the Sonauto Levallois Porsche of Lafon and Jarier third. As well as continuing to host the FIA European Truck Championships, the circuit has become renowned as a centre for historic racing, for two-wheels and four, with F1 Historic events, the Historic Grand Prix of Burgundy, the Moto Legende Cups and the Grand Prix de l'Age d'Or.

An ultra-modern karting complex was built in 2001, and the circuit has seen many renovations, while continuing to host national series such as the FFSA Super Serie.

And now, in 2006, it will host the 100th race of the FIA GT Championship.

-credit: fia

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Mark Webber , Ricardo Zonta , David Brabham , Allan McNish , Pedro Lamy , Mario Andretti , Niki Lauda , Jean-Pierre Jabouille , Alain Prost , Keke Rosberg , Anthony Kumpen , Christophe Bouchut , Olivier Beretta , Ronnie Peterson , Clay Regazzoni
Teams AF Corse