Free Practice Sessions
The Championship has picked up the pace again, and just ten days after the eighth round finished in Imola, the teams, cars and drivers are back in action, this time at the German circuit of Oschersleben. The twisty and technical circuit, 3.667 km long, first hosted the Championship back in 1998, when it was the first international series to race at the circuit. A further race was held in 1999, before returning in 2002 with the LG Super Racing Weekend, becoming a regular item on the calendar.
Cool in the morning, it stayed bright, dry and sunny, with temperatures rising to around 24 in the afternoon.
Last year, future Champions Matteo Bobbi and Thomas Biagi claimed their sixth win of the season in the BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello. In N-GT, Andrea Bertolini and Fabrizio De Simone were victorious, in the JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena.
In GT, the nr 2 and 3 Ferrari 550 Maranello cars are still on the maximum 100 kg, while the Vitaphone Saleen has increased its weight to 70 kg after its Imola win. The nr 1 BMS Ferrari has gone down to 25 kg, while the nr 11 GPC Ferrari has reduced from 85 kg to 55 kg. JMB Racing's nr 17 Ferrari now has 30 kg, while the two DAMS Lamborghini Murcielago cars have gone down to 20 kg. The two AF Corse Maserati MC cars, ineligible for points, have gained additional handicap weight and are now on 95 kg for the nr 33 and 80 kg for the nr 34.
In N-GT, the handicap weights have been calculated according to the order in which the cars crossed the finish line at Imola, not taking the subsequent exclusion of the nr 62 Ferrari into account. The nr 62 car has 32.5 kg, due to the arrival of Vincent Vosse and his 65 kg GT weight from Spa. The nr 50 Freisinger Yukos Porsche is still on the super-maximum of 75 kg, while the nr 99 Freisinger Porsche is on 50 kg and the nr 77 is on 25 kg.
INTERNATIONAL COURT OF APPEAL
The International Court of Appeal will meet in Paris, on Tuesday September 21st, to hear the appeal on behalf of GPC Sport against the exclusion of the nr 62 Ferrari 360 Modena at Imola. The decision will be announced on Wednesday September 22nd in the afternoon. The N-GT results and classification remain provisional until then.
* 25 cars should line up on Sunday, with 18 in the GT class and 7 in N-GT.
* RML has a new driver, Jose Pedro Fontes, standing in for Miguel Ramos for this race. This is the Portuguese driver's first appearance in the FIA GT Championship. His varied motorsport career includes the Portuguese National Formula Ford Championship, which he won twice, and rallying in his national rally championship. This is his first race for RML. "It's a shame that Miguel cannot be with the team this weekend; he has been driving very well this year," Commercial director Daryl Cozens commented. "Having said that, we are very pleased to have Jose on board."
* The nr 10 Zwaan's Racing Chrysler Viper will be manned by Val Hillebrand, Henrik Roos and Robert van der Zwaan this weekend.
* JMB Racing has a new driver in the nr 17 Ferrari : from this race onwards, Karl Wendlinger will be driving with 28-year old Brazilian Tarso Marques. The 28-year old Brazilian is a very experienced single-seater driver, having competed in Formula One and CART. The team also sees Stephane Daoudi make his return to the team, in the nr 19 car with Antoine Gosse and Peter Kutemann.
* Team regular Paolo Ruberti will be joined in the nr 28 Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7 by German driver Wolfgang Kaufmann, making his second time with the team "It's great to be racing with GNM again - the team is very professional as well as being down to earth and welcoming." The third driver will be Jamie Wall from Great Britain, who previously raced a Cirtek Porsche in the 2002 Championship.
* Belgian driver Vincent Vosse has rejoined GPC, for whom he raced at Spa, but this time in the N-GT category, in the nr 62 Ferrari 360 Modena.
* Mauro Casadei has rejoined Czech team Vonka Racing in the nr 57 Porsche, while Maciej Marcinkiewicz, from Poland, is back in the nr 69 Proton Competition Porsche, currently lying fourth in the N-GT Teams Classification.
FIRST FREE PRACTICE : BMS FASTEST OVERALL, GPC LEADS N-GT
The first free practice session saw the nr 4 Konrad Motorsport lead at the start, with a best lap of 1:24.561. Fifteen minutes into the 90-minute session, with the nr 24 DAMS Lamborghini Murcielago an excellent second, with a time of 1:24.915. The next cars to improve were the nr 1 and 2 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello cars, with Matteo Bobbi setting a time of 1: 23.598 to go fastest. The nr 2 car set the third-fastest time, with the nr 5 Vitaphone Saleen improving to go ahead of the Lamborghini, which finished the session in fifth place. The two AF Corse Maserati MC 12 cars were sixth and seventh, with the nr 28 Graham Nash Saleen in eighth.
In N-GT, the nr 62 GPC Giesse Squadra Corse Ferrari 360 and the nr 99 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche swapped fastest times during the session, with the Ferrari winning out, setting a best time of 1:28.175, ahead of the three Freisinger cars. The nr 7 RML Saleen was the only car not to set a time, having stopped due to a fire; the car was repaired in time for the second free practice session.
SECOND FREE PRACTICE : VITAPHONE LEADS THE TIMES; FREISINGER REGAINS THE UPPER HAND IN N-GT
The Vitaphone Racing Team, on home ground and after their splendid Imola win, were fastest throughout the second free practice session. With a lap of 1:24.711 early on, they improved to 1:24.350 by the end of the allotted 90 minutes, the times being slightly lower than in the morning.
Second-fastest was the nr 13 GPC Giesse Squadra Corse Ferrari 575 M Maranello, of Emanuele Naspetti and Gianni Morbidelli, with the nr 34 AF Corse Maserati of Johnny Herbert and Fabrizio De Simone third. The nr 7 RML Saleen recovered after its morning problems to set the 7th fastest time, ahead of the nr 11 GPC car and the nr 28 Graham Nash Saleen. The session was incredibly close, with the top eight cars setting times within one second, and the top 15 within 1.8 seconds.
In N-GT, the nr 99 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche of Maassen and Luhr set the best time, with a lap of 1:27.447, ahead of the nr 50 Freisinger Yukos Porsche, with the nr 62 Ferrari third.