After a superb edition of the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa and the summer break, the teams and drivers taking part in the FIA GT Championship will meet up again in Oschersleben, Germany for the seventh round of the 2005 season. And what a thrilling ...
After a superb edition of the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa and the summer break, the teams and drivers taking part in the FIA GT Championship will meet up again in Oschersleben, Germany for the seventh round of the 2005 season. And what a thrilling season that is!
Generally, the Proximus 24 hours of Spa are a turning point in the season where the Champions' profiles have been drawn. After this edition, and with still five rounds to go, it is impossible to predict who will win the Championship this year !
The last round before the "exotic" races (Turkey, China, Dubai and Bahrain) will be the occasion for the Maserati cars to make the difference, on the circuit where they took their first victory last year. However, the leaders in the GT1 category, Karl Wendlinger and Andrea Bertolini, will carry a 100-kg penalty weight on board their JMB Maserati n 15. "Our direct competitors for the title win will not be in a better situation than us... We are well prepared for this race, in which tactics will be very important", Karl Wendlinger said. His competitors are Swiss driver Gabriel Gardel, who will again share the wheel of the Larbre Competition Ferrari 550 Maranello with Pedro Lamy and who will carry 70kg, and the German Vitaphone Maserati drivers, Michael Bartels and Timo Scheider, who will have 90kg penalty on board of their car.
The favourites could therefore be the second second JMB and Vitaphone Maserati cars who will carry less weight, but also the GLPK Corvette, the GPC Sport and the Russian Age Ferrari cars or the two Saleen cars entered by Konrad Motorsport, back in action after missing two rounds. The Lamborghini Murcielago driven by Peter Kox and Norman Simon will also seek to end the European part of the season on a high.
In the GT2 category, the situation is much clearer. Gruppe M Racing is leading the category, and after their victory in Spa, Marc Lieb and Mike Rockenfeller are leading the Drivers Classification. However, Collard and Sugden still have their chances should they have luck on their side in the remaining rounds of the season. German Porsche specialist, Wolfgang Kaufmann, will also be back in the Championship at the wheel of a Porsche 996 GT3 RSR from Dutch team, Lammentink Racing, and he will be aiming at a podium finish.
In the G2 class, Balfe Motorsport is set for the German round after missing the Proximus 24 hours of Spa. The Mosler will once again try to get among the best cars of the GT2 category.
WHAT THE DRIVERS THINK...
"It is essential to have a car with good brake balance when entering turn one, which is followed immediately by a slow right hander. Second key point of the track is turn 4, very fast left hander with 2 or 3 apexes, you require good grip and down force. Another key part of the track is the chicane ; if your car allows it, you need to go straight through the chicane enabling you to carry speed for the long back straight, and the later part of the track is dependent on good mechanical grip." Karl Wendlinger, JMB Racing
"I really like Oschersleben. It's small but very challenging, there's no time to relax, its going to be difficult with 75 kg... First key point is the triple left corner, it's very fast (4th gear) and challenging, it is essential to have good down force, this part of the track generates the highest G forces. The Chicane is very fast again, you go over the curbs during qualifying but avoid this during the race, or else the car suffers too much. Second last right hander is another tricky corner, fast (4th gear) with pumps at the exit." Marc Lieb, Gruppe M Racing
TIMO SCHEIDER, GTR STAR OF THE RACE AT SPA
At the end of the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, all the press room held its breath when the leader, Timo Scheider, aquaplanned at the "Bus Stop" corner and nearly hit a Porsche which was in trouble in the same corner. It was close, but both cars were able to get back on track, troublefree.
After the incident, Scheider gave his best to keep his Vitaphone Maserati MC 12 on track during the last hour in spite of the heavy rain. He did a great job and managed to pass the finish line, in the lead, sharing his first important international victory with Michael Bartels and Eric Van de Poele. After three seasons in the German Formula 3 Championship, he started racing for Opel in the DTM in 2000 and he finished in 8th position respectively in 2002, 2003 and 2004. This year, at the age of 26, he switched to the FIA GT Championship where he is sharing a Maserati with his former DTM team-mate, Michael Bartels. Scheider showed a great potential in the first races of the season, and after his first victory in Spa, he is ready to fight for the title.
GET WELL SOON, JACQUIE !
The FIA GT Championship Press Delegate Jacquie Groom has been hospitalised last Wednesday and has been diagnosed as suffering from a stomach ulcer.
She will be back home on Tuesday but will need to rest for a few weeks. The whole SRO team wishes her a good and speedy recovery.
In the mean time, and until she has fully recovered, please send all your requests either to Benjamin Franassovici, the Teams Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org, or to Patricia Kiefer, the Event Manager, email@example.com
DOUBLE HEADER FOR LONGIN AND KUMPEN NEXT WEEKEND....
Next weekend will be among the toughest of the season for Bert Longin and Anthony Kumpen... Both drivers will take part in the 7th round of the FIA GT Championship, in Oschersleben, in Germany, but also in the 24 hours of Zolder, in Belgium. While finding the best compromise between a good logistic organisation, a maximum concentration and a minimum of sleep, they will aim at victory in Zolder and a podium finish in Germany.
"We will take part in the qualifying practice for the 24-hour race in Zolder on Thursday and then drive to Oschersleben for the free practice sessions on Friday". Bert said. "On Saturday morning, we will be in Germany for qualifying and after the first session, leave to Zolder for the start of the 24-hour race".
"We will stay in Zolder until Sunday morning 09.30", Anthony added. "We will then catch a plane to Germany where we should arrive in time for the start of the FIA GT race. Mike Hezemans will do the first stint. Bert should do the second stint and I should do the last one. Right after the finish, we will catch the plane back to Zolder for the finish of the 24-hour race".
After the Proximus 24 hours of Spa, the Corvette C5-R entered by GLPK Carsport was entirely rebuilt to the 500-km races specs. "We did not have time to test the car again", Anthony said. "In fact, it was not really necessary. During the 24-hour race, we learnt a lot on the car, and especially the way the car reacts in rainy conditions. The team is highly motivated and the aim is to fight for victory."
The car was excluded from the Spa results, while it was fourth, due to the data recording device not being connected.
BALFE MOTORSPORT ALL SET FOR GERMAN ROUND
Balfe Motorsport hopes to continue its good form in chasing down the Gruppe M Porsche cars in the GT2/G2 class after their good performance in Brno at the end of June, where they won in their class and finished second to one of the Gruppe M Porsche cars in the joint GT2/G2 classes.
The Oschersleben Motorsport Arena will be a brand new circuit to Shaun Balfe, Jamie Derbyshire and the team. However, Shaun looks forward to the challenge : "From what I've seen, the track layout should suit the Mosler, just like Brno did. The fact that we haven't seen the circuit before doesn't really worry us, as it has been that way for much of the season. It just means we have to get to grips with it as quickly as possible during the free practice sessions and keep working on getting quicker over the whole weekend".
The team and drivers did not take part in the Proximus 24 hours of Spa and therefore had a large break. "I know that the guys in the team are ready to get back to racing and I am keen to get back behind the wheel of the car again", Balfe said. "Hopefully we can continue our pace from the start of the season and maybe spring a surprise during the race on Sunday", he added.