FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP NEWS FROM THE FIA GT TEAMS The first race of the 2002 season of the FIA GT Championship, which will be held at the French track of Magny Cours, will get underway in seven weeks time. News follows from some of the teams which...
FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP
NEWS FROM THE FIA GT TEAMS
The first race of the 2002 season of the FIA GT Championship, which will be held at the French track of Magny Cours, will get underway in seven weeks time. News follows from some of the teams which will be taking part.
LISTER ANNOUCES 2002 DRIVERS
Lister Storm Racing has announced that Jamie Campbell-Walter and Nicolaus Springer will be sharing a Lister Storm in this year’s FIA GT Championship. Scottish-born Campbell-Walter, who won the FIA GT Drivers’ Championship with Lister in 2000, finished in fifth place last year, winning the Monza, Magny Cours and Nürburgring rounds.
Springer, from Germany, has been driving the Lister Storm since 2000, and has made steady progress. The team recently tested at Magny Cours. “ I’m happy with the Dunlop tyres, and happy with the car,” team owner Laurence Pearce said. “ Nicolaus equalled the time Jamie set during last year’s race at Magny Cours, and Jamie also improved his times. We have worked hard on the car, and I think it will be good. The Storm will also have a new engine for the first race. We are going to do our best this season, and I would like to shock those people who do not think Jamie and Nicolaus can possibly win. I’m hoping to see them on the top step of the podium.” Although the team would like to run a second Storm, only one car has currently been entered. The team will continue their pre-season testing at the Spanish track of Jarama.
CARSPORT HOLLAND TESTING AT MUGELLO
Carsport Holland has been testing one of its Chrysler Viper GTS-R cars at the Italian track of Mugello. Anthony Kumpen did most of the work, as Mike Hezemans has been unwell. “ It has been raining continuously, so we have not been able to achieve as much as we hoped, which is a shame. Hopefully the weather will improve soon,” Mike Hezemans explained.
“ Everything is going well with the car,” Kumpen added. “ We have done a lot of testing this winter for Pirelli, using many different tyres. We have also run with our new, bigger wing, and should soon have a new engine from Swiss tuner Mader, which has performed very well on the test bench. It is all looking very promising, and I cannot wait for the first race.” Anthony has settled in well with Carsport Holland.“ I really enjoy driving with Mike, as he is very fast, and we have similar driving styles, and agree on the set-up of the car. It also helps that we both speak Dutch. I have also enjoyed working with team manager Toine Hezemans. He knows so much about racing; he has been a great help.” The team has not yet announced the name of their second driver, who will compete alongside Italian Luca Cappellari in the team’s second Viper.
MOLLEKENS LOOKING FORWARD TO THE SEASON WITH PSI
Belgian team PSI is continuing with its preparations for this year’s FIA GT Championship, and is planning to enter two Porsche 996 turbo cars in the GT category. “ We are putting the finishing touches to the first car, and it should be ready to start testing on March 12th,” said team manager Christian Schumacher. The team will initially test in Valencia, returning to Spain in April to put the final touches to the program. “ We have also started to assemble the second car. Everything is going to plan, and is looking good.” Former Formula 3000 driver and team manager Kurt Mollekens will be PSI’s leading driver for 2002. “ I am really looking forward to doing a full campaign this season,” the Belgian driver said. “ Obviously, the car is still a Porsche, and we cannot hope to fight with the fastest Chrysler Vipers. However, we hope to get into the Superpole, and to score a few points over the season. The car was reliable last year, despite a lack of testing, and it should be even better this year. The team has built a new car over the winter, which is lighter, and more powerful, so it should be very good. The driver line-ups will only be established after the test sessions, as we want to have the fastest drivers in one car.” Potential drivers for PSI include Bert Longin, Eric Geboers, Stephane Cohen and Marcus Paltalla, all of who drove occasional races in the FIA GT Championship last season.
PIRELLI TYRES FOR RWS IN 2002
RWS has announced that it will be using Pirelli tyres for the 2002 season. The German team has been one of the main contenders in the N-GT category over the past two seasons, and finished on the same number of points as eventual Champions JMB Competition in 2001. “ Pirelli has made a big step in the last two years, and we are pleased to be using their tyres,” team manager Rudi Walch commented. However, the team has not been able to test the tyres on their Porsche 996 GT3-R cars yet, as they are still on their way back to Europe from the Daytona 24 Hours.
Despite racing a Porsche 996 GT2 in the US long distance race, RWS is currently planning to enter two Porsche 996 GT3-R cars in the N-GT category of the 2002 FIA GT Championship. “ One of the cars will be for Luca Riccitelli and Dieter Quester, while the second one will be driven by the Russian drivers Nicolaj Fomenko and Alexei Vassiliev,” Walch concluded. Fomenko and Vassiliev have competed in the FIA GT Championship since the end of the 2000 season, previously driving a Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-R. Their best results in 2001 were in Silverstone and Estoril, where they finished in tenth place in the N-GT category.
Luca Riccitelli drove the team’s Porsche 996 GT2 car at Daytona. “ The car was not bad at all,” he said. “ I was not far off the times set by the Larbre Competition Chrysler Viper GTS-R, and there is still plenty of room for improvement.. We should have a better idea of its potential later. However, it might be better to have a good season in the N-GT class with the Porsche 996 GT3-R. We know what that car is capable of achieving, and I have been close to claiming the Championship over the past two seasons. So we would start the season with the definite aim of fighting for the title– although, in motorsport, nothing can be guaranteed !”
CIRTEK RETURN TO THE FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP
British team Cirtek will be entering a Porsche 996 GT3-R in the FIA GT Championship this season. Cirtek, run by Rob Schirle, has been an occasional participant in the FIA GT Championship since 1998, with a Ford Saleen Mustang and a Porsche 911 GT2. More recently, Cirtek entered a Porsche 996 GT3-R in the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, retiring after 210 laps. “ We will definitely have one car, and hope to finalise a second,” Schirle said. “ The drivers will be Rob Wilson and Paul Dawson, as well as Raffaele Sangiuolo. We are still looking for one more driver before the final line up will be confirmed.” New-Zealand born Rob Wilson started racing in 1975. As well as taking four wins in last season’s British GT Championship, driving a Chrysler Viper GTS-R, he also works as a driving coach for a number of teams. He and Dawson drove for Cirtek in this year’s endurance race at Daytona. Italian driver Sangiuolo has been a regular competitor in the FIA GT Championship, competing last season for Mac Racing in a Porsche 996 GT3-R.
FIA EUROPEAN TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP
NEWS FROM THE FIA EUROPEAN TOURING CAR TEAMS
Magny Cours, on April 21st 2002, will see the first touring cars complying with the Super 2000 regulations take to the track. News follows from a number of the teams which will be taking part in the Championship this season.
ALFA ROMEO INTENSIFIES TEST PROGRAM
N. Technology, the Alfa Romeo Motorsport department, continued its test program with three days of running at the Italian track of Vallelunga. Fabrizio Giovanardi drove the new Alfa Romeo 156 Gta, which complies with the Super 2000 technical specifications, until heavy rain ended the session. “ The car was more or less the same as that which took part in the previous tests, with a few changes to the gearbox and suspension,” team manager Monica Sipsz explained. “ We have not yet finalised all our technical options, and we plan to try some more suspension changes when the test program continues at Vallelunga on March 4th and 5th.”
BMW SCHEDULES FURTHER TESTS
Both BMW Team Deutschland (Schnitzer Motorsport) and BMW Team Spain (Ravaglia Motorsport) are also planning to test at Vallelunga on March 4th and 5th. “ We will be using the same car as last time, with either Dirk or Jörg Müller at the wheel,” Schnitzer team manager Charly Lamm said. “ We will announce our final driver line-up next week.”
Roberto Ravaglia’s team will also test one car, a BMW 320i from the 2001 FIA Super Production Championship, upgraded to the Super 2000 technical specifications. “ Fabrizio De Simone will drive on the first day, with Jordi Gené taking over for day two. We will be testing a variety of different set-up options,” said Ravaglia. The team should receive its first new body shell from BMW Motorsport next week, and hopes to have the first brand new car ready by the end of March.
AGS MOTORSPORT SWITCHES TO ALFA ROMEO
AGS Motorsport will be entering an Alfa Romeo 156 Gta in the 2002 FIA European Touring Car Championship. The Italian team, which has run Audi A4 Quattro cars for the past four seasons, took two wins in the FIA European Super Touring Championship last season, with Roberto Colciago at the wheel. Paolo Ruberti will be driving for the team this year. “ We are very happy, as the 156 Gta appears to have great potential,” team principal Guido Tritto explained. “ We are also pleased to have signed Ruberti, as he is young, quick and clever, and was competitive in his first touring car season.”
Ruberti drove a CiBiEmme BMW 320i in the FIA Super Production Championship last season, with two podium finishes. “ I am confident for the season,” Ruberti said. “ AGS is a good team, and they have achieved excellent results while running as privateers. I think the Alfa Romeo 156 Gta will be competitive; it has been very quick in testing. I have big ambitions and hope to achieve good results.”
VILLAMIL AND CAYROLLE TO DRIVE FOR BIGAZZI
Scuderia Bigazzi have finalised its program to run two Alfa Romeo 156 cars in the 2002 FIA European Touring Car Championship. “ We are currently working on upgrading our 2001 Super Production cars to the new Super 2000 specifications,” said team manager Paolo Bigazzi. “ Our goal is to be read to test in March, possibly at Jarama on March 18th and 19th.” Bigazzi has signed two extremely experienced drivers for the 2002 season. 46-year old Spaniard Luis Villamil is a three-times Spanish Touring Car Champion, while 39-year old French driver Eric Cayrolle won the French Touring Car Championship three times. “ I am happy to be racing with Bigazzi in the FIA European Touring Car Championship again,” said Villamil, who has driven for the team on numerous occasions over the past 21 years, including last season in the FIA European Super Production Championship. Cayrolle drove a Max Team BMW 320i in the FIA European Super Touring Championship last year. “ I am really excited to be driving for Bigazzi, as his name is legendary in touring car racing. My only concern is to find the right feeling for the front-wheel drive car as soon as possible.”
CARLY MOTORSPORT ANNOUNCES 2002 PROGRAM
Dutch team Carly Motorsport will be returning to the FIA European Touring Car Championship, to defend the Super Production Teams title it won in 2001. “ We are still finalising the program, but we are already sure of running two BMW 320i cars. We are working with BMW Motorsport to enter a third car, backed by a BMW importer,” team principal Carly Pellinkhof explained.
The team has entered into agreements with two drivers, Peter Kox and Tom Coronel. Both have previously driven for Carly in the Dutch Touring Car Championship, Kox winning the title in 1993, and Coronel claiming three wins last season. Kox is the reigning FIA European Super Production Champion, having won the title while racing for Ravaglia Motorsport last year. “ I am happy to have the opportunity to defend my title,” he said. “ The important thing is that I am staying with BMW.” Tom Coronel, who won two rounds of the FIA GT Championship with Lister Storm Racing last season, as well as finishing in third place in the FIA Super Production Championship round at Estoril, is very pleased to be racing in the FIA European Touring Car Championship in 2002. “ I think the Championship is going to be very strong this year, and that is how I like it– the harder the competition is, the better, especially if I get good results. Alfa Romeo has been fast in testing, and Schnitzer is bound to be competitive, but I have known Carly Pellinkhof for fifteen years, and I know he is really strong and capable of doing the job.” Coronel hopes to try the car in two weeks time.