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Mugello: Round seven preview

NINE YEARS ON... BACK TO MUGELLO Having completed the first 100 races with victory for Jamie Davies and Thomas Biagi in the nr 2 Vitaphone Maserati MC 12, the second centenary will see the teams and drivers head south, to Italy and the...

NINE YEARS ON... BACK TO MUGELLO

Having completed the first 100 races with victory for Jamie Davies and Thomas Biagi in the nr 2 Vitaphone Maserati MC 12, the second centenary will see the teams and drivers head south, to Italy and the circuit of Mugello. The FIA GT Championship has only raced there once before, in 1997, when it was the scene of a very important win for the BMW Motorsport McLaren F1 GTR of Lehto and Soper, setting up the final battle for the inaugural title. With a track which seems popular with all who know it, the beautiful and challenging circuit will host the seventh round of the 2006 FIA GT Championship, as well as the final races in this first season of the FIA GT3 European Championship, with everything still to play for. Other events making up a packed weekend of on-track action include single-seater action from the Formula Palmer Audi, which was already at Dijon, and the Lloyds TSB Insurance British Formula Three International Series, which raced alongside the FIA GT at Spa-Francorchamps. The Trofeo Audemars Piguet Maserati will hold its penultimate round of the 2006 season at Mugello.

Four rounds remain in the 2006 FIA GT Championship, and the battle still rages for the various Championship titles. The numerous Italian teams and drivers competing will be keen to put on their best performance on home soil. Vitaphone Racing Team drivers Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini have a five-point lead over challenging Phoenix racers Andrea Piccini and Jean-Denis Deletraz, with Zakspeed racer Sascha Bert a further seven points behind. Representing three different makes : Maserati, Aston Martin and Saleen respectively, this title battle is proof of the excellent balance between the different cars competing. In GT2, this year has been all about the new Ferrari 430 GT2, which has won all six rounds to date. Italian team AF Corse, victorious in Dijon, also has a commanding lead in the classifications. 2003 Champion Matteo Bobbi and Brazilian driver Jaime Melo are leading their team-mates Mika Salo and Rui Aguas by five points, although all are being chased down by Scuderia Ecosse duo Kinch and Kirkaldy.

New for Mugello, the GT1 field should be joined by a third Maserati MC 12, entered by Italian team Playteam, to be driven by Giambattista Giannoccaro and Toni Vilander.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

"Mugello is a really nice and fast circuit, perfect for GT cars. It's tough on tyres and it's not always easy to find the right set up. I hope that we will have a lot of Italian race fans coming to watch". Philipp Peter, Race Alliance Aston Martin DBR9

"I have never been to Mugello, but I am practicing hard on the PC, learning the track, in preparation for Mugello! I think Mugello is going to suit the Porsche and we should be very strong there." Sean Edwards, Tech 9 Motorsport Porsche 997 GT3

"Italy may have won the World Cup, but we are determined to beat our friends at BMS Scuderia Italia to win the Aston Martin Cup at Mugello" Chris Needell/ Richard Lemmer, Barwell Motorsport

A LAP OF MUGELLO ... WITH PHOENIX RACING'S ANDREA PICCINI

"Let's go for a lap on the Mugello Circuit... obviously I'm not going to give away my tricks!!!

It's not only my favourite circuit, together with Spa (they are very similar), but it's the circuit where I've done most of my F1 testing in 2001 with Minardi.

There is a very long straight, which is pretty strange because right at the level of the pit exit it goes up and then down again before corner one; this makes it difficult to find the braking point, which is very close to the corner.

At the exit of corner one, you cannot use all the space because you have to keep right for the next corner : a left-right where is very important to sacrifice the first one to be quick in the exit.

This is followed by a short straight and another left-right, much quicker than the one before.

After that, the fastest part starts : First, a right-left which is very difficult, because it is very fast and in the middle of the right, the road goes suddenly down quite steeply. The left is almost flat. In this right-left, you need to go in much faster than you might have originally thought !

As soon as you are on the right kerb, you need to go back to the left for the Arrabbiata 1 - a very fast uphill bend to the right, followed, after a very short straight, by the Arrabbiata 2, another very quick corner which is completely blind. On top of the hill, the middle of the corner starts off flat, but goes downhill in the exit. When you get on top, right in the middle of the corner, the car becomes light and it's so easy to get big oversteer....!!!

Arrabbiata means angry...you need to be angry to be fast there!!

Then there is a short straight, followed by a very difficult right-left, because in the first one you always get a lot of understeer and it's a fight to keep the car to the right in order to be fast in the left corner.

Another short straight and we get to the Correntaio, a long 180 degree downhill right where the under steer kills you.

Plus it's very important to keep to the right because right afterwards there is a very fast chicane, almost flat.

We are now up to the last corner where you brake really late and to the inside; this one is also downhill and the understeer always pushes you to the outside quite early.

The entry is not very quick but when you find the right line you can accelerate early and come into the main straight really quickly, because in the exit the corner opens up a lot.

The most beautiful part is from Casanova Savelli to the Arrabbiata 2 and the last one is a superb corner as well...la Bucine!

I have no idea about gears and speed with the GT cars because I've never driven a GT there.....and I'm really looking forward to it!"

-credit: fia

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