Jarama: Practice report

FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 4 FREE PRACTICE SESSIONS WELCOME The Spanish circuit of Jarama is hosting the fourth round of the FIA GT Championship this weekend. This is the second time that the series has raced here, following last season's ...

FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP
ROUND 4
FREE PRACTICE SESSIONS

WELCOME
The Spanish circuit of Jarama is hosting the fourth round of the FIA GT Championship this weekend. This is the second time that the series has raced here, following last season's penultimate round. The circuit, set 28 km north of Madrid, is tight and twisty. It used to host the Spanish Grand Prix, the last time being in 1981, when Gilles Villeneuve raced to victory in his Ferrari. The hot weather today caused problems for some of the front-engined cars, including the Ferrari 550 Maranello and the Chrysler Vipers, with temperatures rising inside the cars.

WEATHER : Hot and sunny.

LAST YEAR
The Prodrive Ferrari 550 Maranello of Rickard Rydell and Alain Menu won for the second time of the year, beating two Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Vipers to form Dunlop's first 1-2-3--Emmanuel Clerico and Anthony Kumpen took the final podium position in the Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper on the penultimate lap as champion elect Christophe Bouchut slid off on worn tyres in his Larbre Chrysler Viper--Christian Pescatori and David Terrien took the battle for the N-GT drivers' championship to the final round after beating the RWS Red Bull Porsche of Luca Riccitelli--The Ferrari stopped just once, compared to Porsche's two stops -fastest race lap was by Bouchut, a 1m32.399s--fastest race lap in N-GT was by Riccitelli. 1m36.091s.

PSI RETURNS
The nr 25 PSI Motorsport Porsche 996 Turbo returns to the FIA GT Championship at Jarama, having previously raced in the Silverstone round. The car has since been re-built after a spectacular accident in the Belcar championship at Spa-Francorchamps three weeks ago. Kurt Mollekens is sharing the car with Finn Markus Paltalla, setting the 12th fastest time today.

JMB BACK TO FULL STRENGTH
The JMB Ferrari team is back up to four cars, two for JMB Racing and two for JMB Competition having repaired the nr 52 JMB Competition Ferrari 360 Modena for Pietro Gianni and Gianluca Giraudi. The car was crashed heavily at the second round at Silverstone at the start of the month, and missed the third round at Brno.

DAYTONA WINNER DEBUTS DDO VIPER
Dominique Dupuy, the man who won the 2000 Daytona 24 hours outright in a Chrysler Viper, returns to the championship for the first time since the Hungaroring last year. The Frenchman, who has run his own team, Dominique Dupuy Organisation in the French GT Championship and is now running it in the Spanish series, drives this weekend with Miguel Barbany. His best finish in the championship was fifth in 1999 having won two races with Jean-Philippe Belloc in the factory-backed ORECA team.

GARCIA RETURNS TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
Antonio Garcia returns to the FIA GT Championship for the first time since his spectacular outright pole position lap in the RWS Porsche at Estoril last year. The Spaniard is currently competing in the new World Nissan series, which will be racing at Jarama in a fortnight.

HANDICAP WEIGHTS
The championship-leading nr 14 Lister Storm of Jamie Campbell-Walter and Nicolaus Springer will start the race with the most success ballast, 80kg, after two victories in the opening three rounds, each of which was worth 40kg. The nr 1 Larbre Competition Chrysler Viper GTS-R of Christophe Bouchut and David Terrien is the second heaviest, at 70kg. The nr 50 JMB Racing Ferrari of Christian Pescatori and Andrea Montermini carries 50kg. The N-GT category awards 20kg for each of the car's two victories, and 15kg for second place at Brno. The nr 3 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R will start its second race in succession with no penalty weight. after retiring from the last two races with mechanical failure.

FIRST FREE PRACTICE SESSION : PICCINI AND ORTELLI LEAD

Andrea Piccini took full advantage of a new rear wing on his nr 23 Ferrari 550 Maranello when he set fastest time in the opening free practice session. The Italian lapped the Jarama track in a time of 1m32.050s, just nine-hundredths of a second clear of Christophe Bouchut and David Terrien's nr 1 Larbre Competition Chrysler Viper GTS-R. Team Carsport Holland was third, Anthony Kumpen and Mike Hezemans' nr 3 Chrysler Viper GTS-R ahead of Jamie Campbell-Walter in the nr 14 Lister Storm Racing Lister Storm. The second Larbre Competition Chrysler Viper GTS-R, the nr 2 of Carl Rosenblad and Vincent Vosse, had an oil leak early on in the session. Vosse nevertheless set sixth fastest time overall, a 1m33.056s lap. Another car in trouble was the nr 5 Force One Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello of David Hallyday and Philippe Alliot. Hallyday had the throttle problem first, when the rivets fell off his throttle pedal, and then Alliot stopped out on track with a transmission failure.

The Freisinger Motorsport team set quickest time in the N-GT category, Sascha Maassen and Stephane Ortelli heading two Ferrari 360 Modenas in their nr 54 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-R. Andrea Bertolini was second fastest in the nr 51 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena, one ahead of Christian Pescatori and Andrea Montermini in the nr 50 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena. Von Gartzen and Kahn were fourth fastest in the nr 60 JvG Porsche 996 GT3-R.

SECOND FREE PRACTICE SESSION : CARSPORT FASTEST; FREISINGER LEADS N-GT

Mike Hezemans set fastest time overall in his nr 3 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R, despite a recurrence of the left rear wheel problem that cost them victory at Brno two weeks ago. Hezemans set the time of 1:32.227 before he felt a vibration at the rear and pitted. His time was three-tenths of a second faster than the nr 23 Ferrari 550 Maranello of Andrea Piccini and Jean-Denis Deletraz. The misfortunes of Force One Racing continued, David Hallyday pulling to the side of the road with an electrical failure in the nr 5 Ferrari 550 Maranello. The car had set sixth fastest time overall, one spot ahead of the nr 14 Lister Storm Racing Lister Storm of Jamie Campbell-Walter and Nicolaus Springer. The Lister pair had suffered an overheating problem, and changed the radiator mid-session, but Campbell-Walter claimed they were losing nearly a second per lap under braking due to their 80kg success ballast.

Sascha Maassen and Stephane Ortelli continued to set the pace in the N-GT category behind the wheel of the nr 54 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-R. Maassen's time of 1m36.472 was nearly half a second faster than the nr 76 RWS Motorsport Porsche of Antonio Garcia and Hans Fertl. Garcia set the time despite suffering from a long brake pedal. The RWS team bled the brakes mid-session, after Garcia had set his time.

The nr 50 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena was third fastest, ahead of the nr 59 Autorlando Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-R of Toto Wolff and Philipp Peter. The pair stopped early in the session with an engine failure. The nr 62 Cirtek Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-R of Jean-Marc Gounon and Raffael Sanguiolo lost time early in the session changing an engine and gearbox. The team believed the engine to be down on power, the gearbox needing different ratios, but Gounon was still able to set sixth-fastest time, a 1:37.975s.

NOTES AND QUOTES

Mike Hezemans, nr 3 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R: "The left-rear wheel was loose. I could feel it going so I came in, but we don't know what is causing this. The time is good, but it does not come easy. It is far too hot in the car and I have burned my foot."

Andrea Piccini, nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello: "I had the feeling that the car was better. We lost some grip at the front so we fitted a new rear wing, which is working very well. This is the first time that we have run the new wing. Our only problem will be during the race, as we do not have power steering. The engine is really close to our legs, so it is actually burning us. It is so hot in the car that you cannot leave your hand on the gear lever, because it gets burned!"

Kurt Mollekens, nr 25 PSI Motorsport, Porsche 996 Turbo: "This car was involved in a big accident at Spa, when one of the wishbones broke. The back came right around and went in at the front. The team has straightened the car and hopefully it is OK. The handling wasn't very good this morning, there was something wrong with the set-up at the front. It will be better this afternoon, it needs to be because we are a long way off! We are hoping for a good result here. I think that it will be very hot, and some of the Viper drivers might suffer a lot and make a mistake and go off. We need that if we are going to scrape into the points"

Dominique Dupuy, nr 27 Dominique Dupuy Organisation, Chrysler Viper GTS-R: "We have come here to test because in the Spanish championship we are using Dunlop tyres, and we want more practice with them. I would like to do more races in the GT championship. For the moment, this is an extra race for our team, but I hope we can do another one later this season. Our plan is to do the whole Championship next year; I am working on getting the budget together and hope to finalise it soon."

Gian Luca Giraudi, nr 52 JMB Competition, Ferrari 360 Modena: "I have to learn this circuit as it is the first time I have been to Jarama. The car is fine, although we have some small changes to make. We now have all the new developments of the other cars. The chassis was bent in my accident at Silverstone, so we missed the Brno race, but I am very happy to be back in the Championship."

Stephane Ortelli -- nr 54 Freisinger Porsche 996 GT3-R : "I set the fastest time this morning, and then Sascha was fastest in the afternoon, so I think it's going well. Sascha was only just slower than me, which, as the session was generally slower due to the heat, means that the car must have improved as well. We are working very hard as we don't want to give the Ferrari cars an easy win like last year. I think we've made a good start, and we will work to improve further for the race. I'm very happy to be driving with Sascha, as he has a lot of experience. He raced here last year, he has tested here, we have the same feeling for the car and he is half-Spanish, so he is the perfect team-mate for this track. We raced for the same team in 1998, but in different cars. The only time we drove together was at Oschersleben in 1999. We took pole in the Porsche 911 GT2, ahead of the factory Chrysler Viper cars, but the driveshaft broke. I want to do better this time ! We should drive together in Oschersleben again."

Philipp Peter, nr 58 Autorlando Sport, Porsche 996 GT3RS: "We improved the car from the morning when we were really struggling to find a nice balance in the car. On old tyres I was doing the same times as in the morning on new ones. However, we had an engine problem. I saw a lot of white smoke and heard a noise from the rear, normally the two together means that some not very good things are going on!"

Jean-Marc Gounon, nr 62 Cirtek Motorsport, Porsche 996 GT3-R: "The last time I had a full-time drive in the Championship was in 1998 with Mercedes. It is a lot different now, on every level. The car, the level, my wages--everything! I am also racing in the Lamborghini Supertrophy, so I said if I was here, I was happy to race."

Gerard Grove -- System Force team manager -- nr 63 Porsche 996 GT3-R : "We had big problems this morning, with understeer, oversteer and absolutely no grip. We made a lot of changes between the sessions and the car is now perfect. We have just taken the gearbox out to make some changes overnight, and then the car should be fine for tomorrow. I think it will be a very exciting qualifying session tomorrow morning, with a lot of fast cars going for the Superpole."

Antonio Garcia - nr 76 RWS Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-R : "The problems we had this morning with the gearbox have now been solved, and the car is running well. Hans went out with old tyres to get the feel of the car, then I took. I had new tyres and did the second-best time of 1:36.982. But what I am really pleased about is that after 15 laps I was still lapping in 1:37.3, which looks good both for the car and for me. Tomorrow we can put new tyres on and I think I can go faster still. It's nice to be back in the Porsche. It took a while to get used to it again, but I think it is going well, and I know I can go even faster !"

--fis-gt-

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Andrea Piccini , Antonio Garcia , Christian Pescatori , Vincent Vosse , Stéphane Ortelli , Sascha Maassen , Gilles Villeneuve , Philippe Alliot , Jamie Campbell-Walter , Jean-Denis Deletraz , Emmanuel Clérico , Andrea Montermini , Jean-Philippe Belloc , Anthony Kumpen , Mike Hezemans , Luca Riccitelli , Christophe Bouchut , David Terrien , Paul Belmondo , Nicolaus Springer , Jean-Marc Gounon , Andrea Bertolini , Rickard Rydell , Kurt Mollekens , Dominique Dupuy , Markus Palttala , Toto Wolff , Philipp Peter , Gianluca Giraudi , Alain Menu
Teams Nissan Motorsports , Larbre Competition