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N?rburgring preview

Eurosport Super Racing Weekend of the Nürburgring - September 7th - 9th, Just two weeks after the seventh Eurosport Super Racing Weekend took place at the Austrian A1 Ring, the cars and drivers will gather in Germany, at the Nürburgring on ...

Eurosport Super Racing Weekend of the Nürburgring - September 7th - 9th,

Just two weeks after the seventh Eurosport Super Racing Weekend took place at the Austrian A1 Ring, the cars and drivers will gather in Germany, at the Nürburgring on September 7th– 9th. Like the Austrian track, the Nürburgring is surrounded by hills and woods, and the circuit has a number of changes of elevation. With a notoriously unpredictable climate, the Nürburgring is overshadowed by the daunting Nordschleife, over 25 km long. The modern circuit is 4.556 km long, situated 60 km west of Koblenz and 70 km south of Cologne, in the beautiful Eifel region of Germany.

The FIA GT Championship last visited the Nürburgring in 1997, when the AMG Mercedes CLK GTR of Schneider and Ludwig took the overall win. Victory in the GT2 class went to the Roock Racing Porsche 911 GT2 of Hürtgen, Amorim and Eichmann. Peter Kox, who was fourth overall in 1997 in the McLaren F1 GTR he shared with his current Super Production Championship boss Roberto Ravaglia, will be driving once more with Rickard Rydell in the Prodrive Allstars Ferrari 550 Maranello that took the Austrian victory, while also fighting for the lead in the SPC in his Ravaglia BMW 320i E46.

FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP
ROUND 9 : NÜRBURGRING 500 km

Championship Rundown
The A1 Ring saw the first victory of a Ferrari 550 Maranello in the FIA GT Championship, with the Prodrive Allstars taking the overall win in only their second race. In the Championship classification, however, the GT Teams title can now only be won by Larbre Competition Chéreau or Carsport Holland. The N-GT battle is a lot closer ; with JMB Competition’s Austrian win taking the team to within four points of RWS Motorsport. It is a similar situation in the drivers championship, where RWS’s Luca Riccitelli is closely followed by Christian Pescatori and David Terrien.

GT CHAMPIONSHIP

Larbre Competition Chéreau (1st, 82 pts) looking for more points
The nr 7 Chrysler Viper finished in fifth place at the A1 Ring, its worst position of the year. "It’s true that although I like the circuit, I’m never very successful there," Christophe Bouchut commented. "When Jean-Philippe lost a wheel, we effectively lost any hope of a podium finish. Then we broke the exhaust, and by the end we were having some engine problems. So to gain two points was a reasonable result. I’m afraid that the Nürburgring might be a similar story– the penalty weight will be against us, and the cars like the Prodrive Ferrari, the Listers and the Carsport Vipers are much faster in straight-line speed. However, the weather could work to our favour– some rain would be great. Our objective is to get as many points as possible towards the FIA GT Teams title."

Team Carsport Holland (2nd, 41 pts) with the maximum handicap weight
"We’ve got 100 kg, and that’s not so good," explained Mike Hezemans, driver of the nr 3 Chrysler Viper. "We might be trying a new rear wing at the Nürburgring, to try to give us some more downforce. But it’s not going to be easy with so much weight. We might still have a theoretical chance of taking the Teams title, but to be honest, it won’t be easy. We would have to finish first and second in nearly every race. I think it’s going to be hard at the Nürburgring, especially on the brakes. We were already down to the iron at the A1 Ring." Mike is sharing the car with 19-year old Jeroen Bleekemolen. "He is coming along well, and I’m happy with his progress. He knows the Nürburgring well, having driven there in German Formula Three last year, so I think we can do well." Father and son Michael and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen, drivers of the nr 4 Carsport Chrysler Viper , have finished on the podium three times this year, but are still looking for a first win.

Paul Belmondo Racing (3rd, 31 pts) looking to improve
"There should be a number of changes in the team for the Nürburgring," explained Boris Derichebourg, driver of the nr 12 Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper GTS-R. "The team is going to be restructured, concentrating on two cars. Small improvements will be made, so that we can finish the season with some good results. Everyone will be working really hard." Boris likes the track, where he raced in F3000. "I’ve always gone well there, and I think it should suit the Viper."

Lister Storm Racing (3rd, 31 pts) with Jordan
Mike Jordan will be replacing Tom Coronel for the ninth round of the FIA GT Championship, as the Dutch driver will be taking part in the Dutch Touring Car Championship. Jordan should be at home behind the wheel of the Lister Storm, as he drives a similar car in the British GT Championship, which he is currently leading, partnered by David Warnock.

Prodrive Allstars (7th, 10 pts) - second win ?
"It was a really good weekend for us at the A1 Ring, after so much hard work, especially from the mechanics. They have been working flat out since the program started back in January," Rickard Rydell said, after winning the previous round at the wheel of the Ferrari 550 Maranello. "We still have to prove that the car is competitive at other circuits, so we want to show we can finish and win again if possible. Every time Alain, Peter or I are out on the track, we want to win." The Swedish driver does not know the Nürburgring well. "I did a test there 12 years ago, but I can’t really remember it. I did a few laps on the Playstation to try and remember the corners. As for the weather, it was really too hot in Austria, so I would be happy if it was not so warm in Germany. We have only done a few laps in the wet, so I don’t know exactly how the car will handle. We need to test it. But I’m looking forward to the race– I think the Lister will be very strong there, it’s a circuit that should suit it. So it could be very interesting." Rydell will be sharing the nr 15 Ferrari 550 Maranello with Peter Kox, with Alain Menu returning for the final two races.

Reiter Engineering on home ground
The black and purple Lamborghini Diablo GT has had a difficult debut in the FIA GT Championship, but the car has shown constant improvement since its first appearances in 2000. Closing the gap between its performance and that of the rest of the GT grid has been Michael Trunk and Bernhard Muller’s main aim. The team is now confident that the engine problems are over, and that it can be competitive. In 1997, the Porsche 911 GT2 driven by the German duo finished in fourth place at the Nürburgring. A similar result for their Lamborghini Diablo would be an encouraging result for their home race.

ART back in a Viper
After trying a Lister Storm at the A1 Ring, Fran™ois Lafon and Jean-Pierre Jarier will be back at the wheel of their more familiar Chrysler Viper for the Nürburgring round.

N- GT CHAMPIONSHIP

RWS Motorsport (1st, 52 pts) : title fight closes up
Austria was a great disappointment for RWS Motorsport, who not only retired from a race they had comfortably led, but saw their main Championship rivals win and close the gap in the points tables. "Now all we can do is win," Luca Riccitelli said. "We know that our Porsche 996 GT3-R is perfect– the set-up, the tyres, and even the fuel consumption is better than before. We are very confident that we can win the remaining races, although the Ferrari will most likely be competitive again." Luca knows and likes the Nürburgring. "I am sure we can do a good race there. The weather could be to our advantage– the Porsche is good in the rain, and I like driving in those conditions. But wet or dry, we must push as hard as we can, and win. I was really upset after Austria, where we gave Ferrari the most wonderful present by dropping out 20 minutes from the end."

JMB Competition (2nd, 48 pts) hopes to take the lead
JMB’s unexpected win at the A1 Ring, following the struggles of the Ferrari 360 Modena during testing and qualifying, has put them back in the title fight. "Christian and I took the Sports Racing World Cup title at the Nürburgring last year," Terrien said. "We won’t be able to do that this year, but we’re hoping to regain the lead. We don’t have a base set-up for the circuit, so we’re using some of the information from last year’s prototype to give us a starting point. But it’s not an exact science. It’s difficult to say whether we’ll be fast or not at the Nürburgring– I thought we’d be competitive at the A1 Ring, and, despite winning, we were off the pace. But the important thing is that we have managed to win this year at tracks where we were struggling, in Austria and at Magny Cours. That is how you win Championships." The team’s second car will be driven by Dutch driver Peter Kutemann and Swiss Iradj Alexander. Both have been driving a JMB Ferrari 360 Modena in the French GT Championship, finishing on the podium at Monza.

Freisinger Motorsport (3rd, 29 pts) improving all the time
German-based team Freisinger Motorsport has made great improvements during the 2001 season, their first year centered entirely around the N-GT class. Their leading driver Stephane Ortelli has finished in second place three times, including the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa. Although Ortelli’s co-driver for the Nürburgring event has not yet been announced, the team is looking forward to their home event. "We’re currently equal third in the Championship, and we will try to gain a place or two," team manager Ietoshi Kaneko explained. "We lost a lot of points at the beginning of the season, mainly due to the rain tyres, but since July everything has gone well. I don’t know if it makes much difference to us to race at home, as everyone knows the Nürburgring circuit, but it’s definite that for the points situation, the race is very important to us. We will try to have the most competitive driver we can alongside Ortelli." The drivers for the nr 58 Porsche 996 GT3-R have not been announced yet, but Fomenko and Vasiliev will be in the all-Russian nr 59 car.

Larbre Competition Chéreau (5th, 23 points) : Ahrle replaces Goueslard at the Nürburgring
The nr 50 Porsche 996 GT3-R has finished on the podium during its last two appearances in the Championship. However, on the Nürburgring weekend, 2000 N-GT Champion Patrice Goueslard will be racing in the French GT Championship at Val de Vienne. Sébastien Dumez will therefore be driving with André Ahrlé, who has frequently raced for Larbre Competition Chéreau in the past, most recently at Budapest. "So we’ve got a local driver for the Nürburgring, and a good one !" team owner Jack Leconte said.

Jürgen Alzen Motorsport joins the Championship
German team Jürgen Alzen Motorsport is planning to enter Porsche 996 GT3-R cars in the Nürburgring 500km race. The team is a regular competitor in endurance events such as the Daytona 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours. The drivers will be Johan Berger and Tomas Koch. "They are regular competitors in the Ferrari Challenge, where they are currently in second place, and in national endurance races, so the FIA GT Championship represents quite a step up for them," team-owner Jürgen Alzen commented. "We’re looking forward to it."

Circuit Length : 4.556 km/ 2.83 miles

Other races
Renault Formula 2000 Eurocup
FC Euro Series
Ferrari Challenge West
Ferrari Challenge Central

FIA GT Championship– 1997 results
GT pole : 1:40.059, Beretta, Chrysler Viper GTS-R
GT race winners : Hürtgen/Eichmann/Amorim, Porsche 911 GT2, 133 laps in 4:00.18.442

On air on Eurosport :
Saturday, 8th September 2001
22:00– 23:30 : Qualifying - delayed

Sunday 9th September 2001
17:30– 20:00 : Races - delayed

-Eurosport-

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