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ETCC: 2001 Champions summary

FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP 2001 FIA GT Teams Champion : Larbre Competition Chéreau (Chrysler Viper GTS-R) A year after winning the N-GT title, the French team managed by Jack Leconte took the overall crown. & ...

FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP

2001 FIA GT Teams Champion : Larbre Competition Chéreau (Chrysler Viper GTS-R)
A year after winning the N-GT title, the French team managed by Jack Leconte took the overall crown. “ It has been a very good season. The first moment that stands out was the Superpole at Monza, when we knew that we were in with a chance. Then our first win at Brno, when thanks to an excellent strategy and a very good performance from our drivers, we showed that we could win. And finally, the one-two in the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa. We had decided to enter a second car, and we showed that even with all the extra work, we could still be dominant. And we claimed the FIA GT Drivers Championship at the same time, so it was really the high point of the year.” The team will announce their plans for 2002 on January 20th.

2001 FIA GT Drivers Champion : Christophe Bouchut (Larbre Competition Chéreau Chrysler Viper GTS-R)
35-year old Frenchman Bouchut is one of the longest-serving FIA GT drivers, having competed in the GT1 class in 1997 and 1998, first in a Kremer Racing Porsche 911 GT1, and then in a Persson Mercedes CLK. He returned in 2000, claiming the N-GT title for Larbre Competition, before moving to the GT class with the French team in 2001, and repeating his feat. “ It was great to win the title, especially after having won the N-GT class in 2000. It means a lot to me– and winning the 24 Hours of Spa was really the cherry on the cake. This has really been an important year for me, which has resulted in adding two prestigious titles to my career record. For next year, my objective is to remain in the FIA GT Championship, in the best possible conditions, and to defend my crown.”

2001 FIA GT Drivers Champion : Jean-Philippe Belloc (Larbre Competition Chéreau Chrysler Viper GTS-R)
A former F3000 driver, 32-year old Belloc previously competed in the FIA GT Championship in 1999, when he won three races for Chrysler Viper Team Oreca, finishing third overall in the Drivers classification. Returning to the series to partner Bouchut in the Larbre Competition Chrysler Viper, a near-faultless season saw the two Frenchmen take the title after Spa, finishing every race, and scoring points in 10 out of the 11 rounds. “ To win the Championship was extremely satisfying for me, as it is an important title from a sporting point of view. And, at the start of the season, it was far from certain that we would be able to win. The team had put together the right elements, but it still lacked experience with the car. I am very happy to have won the FIA GT title, and I am very much looking forward to the award ceremony, which will be a first for me. It’s a bit early to talk about 2002, but my objective is to win races, so I will choose the option that gives me the best possibilities.”

2001 FIA N-GT Teams Champion : JMB Competition (Ferrari Modena 360)
French team JMB Competition, in their first full year in the N-GT category, had an excellent season, with their Ferrari 360 Modena winning five races and taking the title at the final round. “ It has been a beautiful win for the team and for our partner Michelotto,” team-manager Benjamin Durand explained. “ It has been a two-year battle, and I must admit we were a bit surprised to win, as such a result did not seem possible at the start of the season. But it is a great reward for all the work the team and drivers have put into it– everyone has worked at 100%. For 2002, we will be back to defend our title in N-GT, with the Ferrari Modena 360. We will most probably have more cars, and our aim is not only to win the title, but to win the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa. Our driver line-up has not yet been fixed, but we are very happy with our line-up from this year.”

2001 FIA N-GT Drivers Champion : Christian Pescatori (JMB Competition Ferrari Modena 360)
Italian driver Pescatori first competed in the Championship in 1997, when he drove the Scuderia Italia Porsche 911 GT1. After a couple of rounds with JMB last season, when the Ferrari 360 was still under development, he moved into the series full-time for 2001. The extreme homogeneity of the Italian/French duo he forms with David Terrien, combined with the reliability and low fuel consumption of the car, brought them the title in the car’s first full season of competition. “ It has been a very busy year for me, with a lot of races, but also a lot of wins ! I was very, very pleased to win the Championship. It was not easy, we had ten difficult races, fighting against all the Porsches, and we only took the title at the last race. It was also very good to win with David Terrien again, after taking the sports prototypes title together in 2000. For next year, I hope to continue with the team and with David, as we form a very good line-up together, which is very important for this kind of racing.”

2001 FIA N-GT Drivers Champion : David Terrien (JMB Competition Ferrari Modena 360)
Terrien, who celebrated his 25th birthday shortly after winning the N-GT title, moved from single-seaters to endurance racing last season, claiming the Sports Racing World Cup title with Christian Pescatori. This season, he helped to prove the potential of the Ferrari Modena 360, beating the battalions of Porsche 996 GT3-R cars. “ The 2001 season has been fabulous, and I am totally satisfied, just like the rest of the team. The result was definitely not a foregone conclusion, as although the car was good, we had no experience of the Championship, and due to that, we made a few mistakes at the start of the season. Compared to the Sports Prototype title Christian and I won with JMB in 2000, I would have to say that this was more satisfying, as although the car was less powerful, the competition was a lot stronger, and we had to fight throughout. One of the best things was the moment I crossed the line to give Ferrari its first win in the FIA GT Championship, followed a few months later by the title. As for 2002, I am not yet sure what I will be doing, but I am very happy with the team and would be pleased to stay with them, although obviously I would also like to move up to the GT class.”

FIA EUROPEAN TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP

2001 FIA European Super Touring Drivers Champion : Fabrizio Giovanardi
Fabrizio Giovanardi has been one of the leading drivers in the final seasons of the Super Touring era, claiming five consecutive championships including the 2001 FIA European crown. For many years, however, he mainly raced in Italy, and is still building his international reputation.“ I know that now a lot of people have great esteem for me, but nobody can say whether I'm the best Touring Car driver or not. There are so many good drivers racing in national championships and I never had the chance to compete with them. Now that the FIA European Touring Car Championship is growing, hopefully more of them will join the championship. And I'm really looking forward to racing against them. I hope it will happen soon, because I am now 35 years old and retirement age is approaching…” Next year he will defend his title in the FIA European Touring Car Championship, which will be unified under the new Super 2000 regulations.

“ For 2002, I will stay with Alfa Romeo and Nordauto ; it will be my eighth season with the team. We have just started the development of our new car, at Fiat’s facilities in Chivasso and Balocco. Soon we will move to Vallelunga to start testing, when we will have the first real ideas about the potential of the Alfa 156 GTA. It is still a long way from the start of the new championship in April, giving us enough time to change the car ten times or more. We are all starting over from ground zero, with the new regulations bringing uncertainty for everybody. It is certainly going to be a very tough championship, because there are more manufacturers involved than in 2001. However, it is very difficult to say who might be the favourite, although BMW has already built a solid experience with the Super Production cars on which the Super 2000 regulations are based.”

2001 FIA European Super Touring Teams Champion: Alfa Romeo Team Nordauto
Team Manager Monica Sipsz led the Nordauto team to victory in the FIA Super Touring Championship in 2001.“ From next season, we will be calling the team GTA Racing Team Nordauto, to emphasize the meaning of the GTA acronym in Alfa Romeo history. That was how the Giulias were called, the cars that dominated the European Touring Car Championship in the Seventies and also the 155 models that won the 1992 Italian Touring Car Championship. Next year, we will run at least two new Alfa Romeo 156 GTAs in the FIA European Touring Car Championship. We have already confirmed our 2001 drivers, Fabrizio Giovanardi and Nicola Larini, and will shortly make a decision concerning a third car.”

2001 FIA European Super Production Drivers Champion : Peter Kox
After a tough fight with his fellow countryman Duncan Huisman, Peter Kox won the first FIA European title in Super Production history. Now he is looking forward to competing against Giovanardi, Larini and Tarquini next season.

“I am quite confident, because I won the championship and therefore I should be able to find a drive. But at the moment the situation is a bit difficult, not only in motor racing. I would like to say that the organisers did a fantastic job in establishing and promoting the championship. Interest is growing at every level and everybody is absolutely positive about next season. But now everybody must find the money to race, which is why most manufacturers have not yet fixed their programmes, and it is too early to say who will be driving. If I had the choice I would like to stay with BMW and with Roberto Ravaglia. I was really impressed with him, as a team manager and also as a person. I also liked the atmosphere in the team, which was very professional and proved itself capable of achieving fantastic results in its first season. That would definitely be my first option. I think the change to the new Super 2000 regulations is good, because the new regulations are increasing the manufacturers' interest. The new rules will improve the cars in look and performances, but not so much in costs and that is exactly what the manufacturers want. From the drivers point of view that is an important step forward from Super Production, because the new cars will be more difficult and exciting to drive. I am convinced that this will produce very exciting races and will help the championship to getting better and better”.

2001 FIA European Super Production Teams Champion : Carly Motorsport
Carly Motorsport, led by Carly Pellinkhof, claimed the inaugural FIA European Super Production title, with leading driver Duncan Huisman having been in close contention for the Drivers title until the very end of the season. “ Our team will definitely take part in the 2002 European Championship, running BMW cars. We are currently working hard to finalize the details of the programme. At the moment we don't know yet with how many cars and with which drivers we are going to race. I hope we will be in a position to unveil all the details by early January.”

-FIA/esr-

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