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Eurosport Super Racing Weekend - Estoril (POR) - October 19th - 21st,

Eurosport Super Racing Weekend Round 10 : Estoril(Portugal), 19th&Ndash; 21ST October 2001 The 2001 Eurosport Super Racing Weekends draw to a close next weekend, with the final races of the season being held at the Portuguese track of Estoril....

Eurosport Super Racing Weekend
Round 10 : Estoril(Portugal), 19th&Ndash; 21ST October 2001

The 2001 Eurosport Super Racing Weekends draw to a close next weekend, with the final races of the season being held at the Portuguese track of Estoril. The FIA N-GT Driver and Team titles, and both the Super Touring and Super Production titles are still to be decided. The track, which hosted the FIA Formula One World Championship until 1996, is situated 30 km west of Lisbon. Built in 1972, the circuit recently underwent extensive renovation work, reopening last year.

Last year, the second round of the FIA GT Championship was held at Estoril. Unfortunately, torrential rain meant that the race had to be stopped after only 24 laps. Michel Neugarten claimed the N-GT pole position in 2000, at the wheel of a G-Force Quaker State Porsche 996 GT3-R. "I really like Estoril– although you occasionally need to be waterproof !" the Belgian driver said. "The track has everything– changes in elevation, a good mix between technical and fast corners. It’s really good."

FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP

Championship Rundown As the teams and drivers enter the final event of the 2001 FIA GT Championship, there is still much to be decided. In the GT category, three teams and four drivers are fighting for the runners-up positions behind Larbre Competition Chereau. Paul Belmondo Racing is currently third, one point behind Team Carsport Holland in the Teams Championship, with Lister Storm Racing a further two points adrift. Among the drivers, Paul Belmondo Racing’s Vincent Vosse has 34 points, while Lister’s Jamie Campbell-Walter has 33 and Carsport Holland’s Mike Hezemans and Jeroen Bleekemolen, 32. "I’m not interesting in second place, it’s just first of the losers," Lister’s Laurence Pearce said. "I really want to win Estoril. Losing is not my game." Paul Belmondo disagrees : "It’s better to be vice champion than fourth– but we’ll have to see what happens." Toine Hezemans, of Carsport Holland, was extremely confident. "If the car stays together, we should win. And second is better than third !" The situation is even closer in the N-GT category, where RWS Motorsport and JMB Competition are fighting for the title. Only one point separates the German and French teams, with the same amount between RWS driver Luca Riccitelli and JMB duo David Terrien and Christian Pescatori in the Drivers’ classification. Should the teams finish on the same number of points after Estoril, JMB would have the advantage, as they have won five races, whereas RWS have only had two wins this year. Larbre Competition’s Jack Leconte, who has already secured the GT Team and Drivers titles, said : "The N-GT fight could be reminiscent of the battles between Senna and Prost. After fighting all last season with RWS, I would like to see them prove they are the best this year."

GT CHAMPIONSHIP

Larbre Competition Chereau (1st, 85 pts) : two Vipers for Estoril Larbre Competition Chereau has entered both its Chrysler Viper GTS-R cars for the final race in Estoril, as well as the nr 50 Porsche 996 GT3-R in the N-GT class. "All our drivers will be taking part. The whole team will be there, and we will all be celebrating," team manager Jack Leconte said. Tiago Monteiro, second in this year’s French Formula Three Championship, will be driving with Bouchut and Belloc. "It will be good to have a local star for the Portuguese race. We will also be trying a new evolution of the engine on the nr 7." The nr 17 will be shared by Marc Duez, Sebastien Bourdais and Jean-Luc Chereau. "This will also give Jean-Luc an opportunity to try the Chrysler Viper. We hope to finish the season with a win, after having bad luck in a couple of races," Jack concluded.

Carsport Holland (2nd, 47 pts) : confident of retaining second place Currently second in the Teams Championship, Team Carsport Holland will be running 40 kg lighter than in Jarama, having failed to finish the previous race. "We think that if the car doesn’t break, we should win," team manager Toine Hezemans said. "It might sound arrogant, but during the last half of the season, we have had the fastest car, but we haven’t had the luck to go with it. We might have lost points at the beginning of the season, but without the changes we made to the car, we would not be competitive now. So we are quietly confident that one or other of our cars can win."

As usual, Mike Hezemans and Jeroen Bleekemolen will share the nr 3 Chrysler Viper, while Sebastiaan and Michael Bleekemolen drive the nr 4.

Paul Belmondo Racing (3rd, 46 pts) : a close fight in prospect "It’s going to be a close fight, and everything depends on so much– the drivers, the track, the weather. But that’s the same for everyone" Paul Belmondo said about the final race of the season. "I think we will all have similar handicap weights too. Of course we would like to finish with all three cars in the points again, but what we really need to do is to place at least one car ahead of the Lister Storms and the Carsport Holland Chrysler Vipers." Vincent Vosse and Boris Derichebourg will drive the nr 12 Chrysler Viper as usual, while Paul Belmondo will share with Anthony Kumpen, and Claude-Yves Gosselin will drive with Louis Marques.

Lister Storm Racing (4th, 44 pts) : testing Lister Storm Racing has been testing Jamie Campbell-Walter’s car at Silverstone since the previous round at Jarama, giving new driver Bobby Verdon-Roe an opportunity to get some time in the car. "Unfortunately, he did not drive much at Jarama," team press officer Fiona Pearce explained. "We would like to end the season on a win. We’re just going for the racing !" The team was also testing the prop shaft, which has failed twice in recent races. "If the car handles like it did at Silverstone, it should be fine. It’s a good track, too," team manager Laurence Pearce added.

Prodrive Allstars (5th, 24 pts) with the maximum handicap weight After three podium finishes in three races, including two wins, British team Prodrive Allstars has been having an excellent end to the season. The nr 15 Ferrari 550 Maranello will be back in the hands of Alain Menu and Rickard Rydell for the final round. "We should have our new air box for Estoril," Rydell explained. "That would mean we could remove the restrictors. However, we will be carrying the maximum of 100 kg penalty weight. The car is good, and the team fantastic, so although we have no hope for pole position, we still have a chance in the race. But neither Alain nor I know the track, so I hope we get plenty of running."

Racing Box (11th, 1 pt) : Naspetti joins the team Emanuele Naspetti, who drove earlier this season for Rafanelli in the nr 5 Ferrari 550 Maranello, taking pole position at Zolder, will be returning to the Championship for the final round at the wheel of the nr 24 Racing Box Chrysler Viper. He will drive alongside team regular Luca Cappellari. The team finished in 6th place in Zolder, and also had a very good race in Hungary, when they were joined by French driver Dominique Dupuy. "When Racing Box called me and asked me to do the race, I was very happy to try the Chrysler Viper for the first time. I don’t like to be at home on racing weekends," Naspetti explained. "I’ve always raced against the Vipers, so it will be interesting to see the other side. It will not be easy– my first time with the car and the tyres, but I know the circuit, as I drove there twice in Formula One. The team is really nice, and it should be good fun."

Wieth Racing hope to be ready
Wieth Racing missed the Jarama round with their Ferrari 550 Maranello, after the damage to their engine turned out to be more serious than originally thought. "We are rebuilding the engine and hope to be ready in time," team manager Florian Hebel explained. "Despite the lack of power, we actually finished the race at the Nurburgring. So we hope that with the good engine, we will have a better chance of a good position at the end. For this last race of the season, we really hope we will have both the power and the reliability."

Reiter Engineering– lighter car, new drivers
The nr 19 Lamborghini Diablo GT will be back in action at Estoril, after missing the Jarama race. The car, however, is significantly different from that which ran at the Nurburgring, with a much lighter chassis. "The car is now around 1150 kg, which should make a big difference," team owner Hans Reiter explained. "The engine is still a street engine, but that should not be a big disadvantage at Estoril, as it is not primarily a power circuit. We will still be down on power, so the drivers will have a lot of work to do. But we will be setting our focus on a good qualifying session, to prove we have the speed and potential for the future. We hope to be in the top ten."

The Lamborghini will be driven by Dutch driver Peter Kox, who has been testing the car, and British driver Oliver Gavin. "I was Peter Kox’s race engineer in the German Super Touring Championship in 1995, and again in the FIA GT in 1997 with Schnitzer, and I really pushed to get him to drive the car," Reiter explained. Gavin, who won the British Formula Three Championship in 1995, has since raced in many different formulae, most recently competing in the American Le Mans Series in a Saleen. "It will be my first time in the FIA GT Championship," Gavin said. "I’ve got a lot of GT experience, but it will be nice to see what the Championship is like. I’m sure it will be extremely tough– I have raced against quite a few of the guys at Le Mans and in the ALMS. It will not be an easy job ; I have no illusions that we will be challenging for the lead, but I am confident that Reiter has done a good job and we will have a positive weekend." Gavin tested the previous model of the Lamborghini last year. "It had a lot of potential then, and I know they have worked a lot on the car since. We are looking for a good strong performance, a sort of benchmark for the car."

N- GT CHAMPIONSHIP

RWS Motorsport (1st, 59 pts) : holding on to their lead
With their lead in the Championship reduced to just one point, RWS will have the same line-up for Estoril as for Jarama– Riccitelli and Quester in the nr 77 Porsche 996 GT3-R, and Garcia and Bernhard in the nr 76 car. "We will be trying very, very hard to win," Dieter Quester said. "It is very important for everyone, the team, the drivers, the mechanics. Second place is second ; only the title really counts. I think it will be one of the hardest races ever. We know our weak point is the fuel consumption, and we will work very hard on this point. I hope we will do well, especially for Luca - I cannot win because of missing two races. Maybe we will be lucky. It’s important to have luck, but you can’t count on just that, you need a really good strategy to back it up." Luca Riccitelli has a one-point lead over the JMB drivers. "It is going to be very important– basically, it is one season in a race," the Italian said. "It should be a very exciting race, and we will be aiming to win. For us, the most important point is to stay in front of the Ferrari. We know our car has been really competitive since Spa, but our problem has been the pit stops, and we know we must improve on this. It’s the last race, the last chance, and we must do our best."

JMB Competition (2nd, 58 pts) one point behind
"We need to keep our concentration right until the end," JMB’s David Terrien said. "We put in a good performance in Jarama, and we were fast in the race, although as usual we lost places at the start, which is one of the Ferrari 360 Modena’s weak points. I think the very technical circuit will suit the car. However, we have very little information on the track, whereas Luca Riccitelli has driven there in the ELMS, which might give the team an advantage. We are optimistic, but realistic. It’s going to be difficult, but we will fight for the title until the end, and I hope we have a really good battle with the RWS Porsche right down to the line."

Freisinger Motorsport (3rd, 38 pts) a strong line-up
Freisinger have a record four cars entered for the final race of the FIA GT season. Stephane Ortelli will share the nr 57 Porsche 996 GT3-R with newcomer Romain Dumas. The young French single-seater driver, who finished second at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the German team, is looking forward to his first race in the FIA GT Championship. "I first drove a Porsche for Freisinger at Le Mans, and it went quite well. They called me back to drive alongside Ortelli in the last race of the year, to try and get the best result possible. We would really like to get a win, so we will try to get in the middle of the N-GT title fight. I know Estoril quite well as I drove there in the ELMS, winning the class with Freisinger. It’s a tight circuit, with lots of corners, but I think it’s a track that suits the Porsche well." The nr 58 will be shared by Portuguese driver Pedro Neova and British driver Tim Lawrence, while the Russian duo of Vassiliev and Fomenko will drive the nr 59 Porsche 996 GT3-R as usual. The drivers for the fourth car, the nr 71 Freisinger Racing Porsche 996 GT3-R, are yet to be named.

Art Engineering (4th, 35 pts) a very important race
Italian team Art Engineering had an excellent weekend at Jarama, with their two cars finishing in third and fifth places. "Estoril is going to be very important," leading driver Fabio Babini explained. "The Championship is to be decided, and the Ferrari was very fast in Jarama, so it is very difficult for the Porsches. Still, I think the Porsche cars have good hopes for the last race. My only problem is that it is not certain whether Luigi Moccia will be driving with me. We will be testing at the end of the week in Vallelunga, and I hope to know then. We have driven together all year, and I hope we can finish the season together. I will be going to Estoril for the first time, but I have tried it on the Playstation, which helps a lot. I think it’s a good circuit."

Larbre Competition Chereau (joint 5th, 26 pts) : Dumez fit for Estoril ?
Sebastien Dumez will be discovering yet another track new to him at Estoril. The French driver, who helped to win the FFSA GT Cup for Larbre Competition Chereau at Ledenon last weekend, has unfortunately had another reoccurrence of the balance problems that affected him earlier this season. Nevertheless, he hopes to be back in action with Patrice Goueslard in the nr 50 Porsche 996 GT3-R. "We hope he will be fit to race," Jack Leconte said.

Perspective Racing (joint 5th, 26 pts) hope to have solved their brake problems
After a strong season, the nr 55 Perspective Racing Porsche 996 GT3-R had one of its rare non-finishes at Jarama, with front-end damage to the car in the race after spinning off on oil. "We were having problems all weekend," Michel Neugarten explained. "We had a serious brake distribution problem, which really handicapped us. We hope everything will be all right for Estoril, which is a circuit I really like. We have competitive tyres from Dunlop. So we hope for a good race."

Cirtek rejoins the Championship
British team Cirtek, a regular competitor in the FIA GT Championship in previous years, is planning to enter the final round at Estoril, with a Porsche 996 GT3-R for French drivers Xavier Pompidou and Laurent Cazenave. "I had originally hoped to race with Freisinger Motorsport. It would have been good, as we could have had two strong teams to fight for a win." Pompidou said. "Now it is nearly certain that I will be racing with Cirtek, with Cazenave. The main thing is to be there, and to be racing, as I have no Championship hopes, not having done all the races." Cazenave, who started the season with Haberthur Racing, drove for Art Engineering in the previous round, finishing in fifth place with Andrea Bertolini in the nr 53 Porsche 996 GT3-R.

<pre> PRACTICAL INFORMATION Circuit Length : 4.182 km/ 2.599 miles

On air on Eurosport : Saturday, 20th October 2001 17:00– 19:00 : Qualifying– LIVE Sunday 21st October 2001 14:30– 17:30 : Races– LIVE Wednesday 24th October 2001 17:30– 18:00 : Highlights 23.45– 00.15 : Repeat Friday 26th October 2001 09.30– 10:00 : Repeat

Other races FC Euro Series FFSA Formula France European Trophy Honda BPI Cup (Junior and Senior)

2000 Results - FIA GT Championship GT pole : 1:38.427, Julian Bailey, Lister Storm N-GT pole : 1:43.275, Michel Neugarten, Porsche 996 GT3-R GT Race : Bailey/Campbell-Walter (Lister Storm)– 23 laps in 54:26.717 (race stopped) N-GT race : Bouchut/Goueslard (Porsche 996 GT3-R)– 23 laps in 54:42.958 (race stopped)

Websites : www.fia.com www.gtracing.net www.eurostc.com www.fpak.pt

-fis-gt-

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