RETURN OF THE CHAMPIONS !
ASTON MARTIN RACING BMS ANNOUNCE 2006 LINE-UP
BMS Scuderia Italia, FIA GT Champions in 2003 and 2004, will be back in contention in 2006. As previously announced, the team, which will race under the name Aston Martin Racing BMS, will enter two Aston Martin DBR9 cars.
The first car will be shared by 2004 Champion, Fabrizio Gollin, and 2005 Championship contender Fabio Babini, while the second DBR9 will be driven by 2001 FIA N-GT Champion Christian Pescatori and Miguel Ramos from Portugal, who drove a Saleen in the Championship in 2002 and 2003.
Between them, the drivers have a total of 19 race wins and 16 pole positions. The team will run on Pirelli tyres. General Director Tiziano Minuti commented : "We are very happy to come back in the FIA GT Championship after the big success we obtained in recent years. We have turned the page and we will carry on a new challenge with the DBR9 Aston Martin and with four professional drivers: Babini -- Gollin and Pescatori -- Ramos. For this come-back, we have to thank Pirelli, our main partner, with whom we are making intense development tests.
Of course our return, for this first year, will place us as outsiders, because our competitors have gained a lot of experience during last season, which should allow them to be extremely competitive from the first race. But it will be an exciting challenge, that we hope will interest all the GT fans."
Testing will continue at the Paul Ricard HTTT on March 28th and 29th, before continuing to Misano Adriatico in Italy on March 30th and 31st. The team also plans to be present during the Official Test Days at Dijon on April 11th and 12th.
PHOENIX RACING TO ENTER ASTON MARTIN DBR9 IN 2006 FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP FOR PICCINI AND DELETRAZ
Phoenix Racing has announced that it will be taking part in the 2006 FIA GT Championship. The Nürburgringbased team will enter an Aston Martin DBR9 in all ten rounds, to be driven by Andrea Piccini and Jean-Denis Deletraz.
The Italian and Swiss drivers have been racing together in the FIA GT Championship since 2002, claiming four wins, as well as four pole positions for Andrea Piccini, most recently in Istanbul last year.
"As well as our DTM commitments, this opportunity represents a further step forward for the future of our entreprise, " explained Dirk Theimann, responsible for the project.
"We are extremely pleased to run this fantastic Aston Martin in the GT1 class. With our tyre partner Michelin, we have the best conditions for a successful entrance into the series."
"We have been working really hard throughout the winter to put this deal together, and we have a really excellent package," Deletraz explained. "The Aston Martin is a very good car, we all saw that last year. Phoenix is an excellent, very professional team, and it is very good to have them in the FIA GT Championship. And then we will be racing Michelin tyres, which I am very pleased about : the tyres are very good, and the people are really serious about their work."
Deletraz is also pleased to continue racing with Andrea Piccini : "This was extremely important for me. GT is not like single-seaters; sharing the car with another driver can be very complicated. To drive with someone you get on well with is such an advantage in terms of tactics, and for the smooth running of the weekend. We have a routine, we share out the tasks : this can really save time. Andrea and I form a very homogeneous duo - we are both exactly the same height, 1:80, which is a lot easier for the steering wheel and the set-up. We both like the car to handle the same way.
And then, Andrea is very, very, very fast ! " With such a combination, Jean-Denis' aims for 2006 are clear : "With a package like this one, we will be aiming for the top from the very first race. We want to win again..."
Deletraz and Piccini hope to be driving the car for the first time during the official test days at Dijon, on April 11th and 12th.
EBIMOTORS ANNOUNCES POWERFUL LINE-UP FOR 2006
Italian team Ebimotors, third in the 2005 GT2 Teams Classification despite only competing in a number of races, has announced an extremely powerful line-up in their quest for the 2006 GT2 title, where they will defend the colours of Porsche and Pirelli.
One of the Porsche 996 GT3 RSR cars will be driven by Luigi Moccia and Emanuele Busnelli, who drove the car in 2005, claiming two podium finishes together. Moccia, a race-winner when he previously drove for Art Engineering, also finished second in GT2 in the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, and was third in the Drivers classification, just behind the four GruppeM drivers.
The second car will be shared by two experienced drivers. Emmanuel Collard has been one of the leading N-GT / GT2 drivers over the past two years, finishing as runner-up on both occasions. He drove for Freisinger Yukos Motorsport in 2004, sharing a car with Stéphane Ortelli, then raced for GruppeM in 2005, with Tim Sugden, winning five races.
His team-mate will be Luca Riccitelli, one of the N-GT stars when the class made its FIA GT debut. He has four wins to his credit, including the N-GT class of the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa in 2001, and was involved in a close battle with Christophe Bouchut for the inaugural N-GT title in 2000.
"I am very happy," Emanuele Busnelli explained. "The team has really grown up over the winter, and we are putting in a lot of work on all fronts to get the cars up to their maximum. We have a good deal with Pirelli, who are putting in a lot of effort on the tyres. Our main aim for 2006 will be to help Collard and Riccitelli, who will be in the lead car. The competition is going to be very fierce this year. The Ferrari 430 is very strong, but still relatively young, so I hope we can make the most of the reliability of our Porsche cars, which have been brought up to 2006 standards." "Our aim is to win; all our preparations have been done with the aim of being at the very top. The team has been competing for a number of years, but over the last three seasons, has finished second in the Italian GT Championship. This year, we want to win.
BRITISH GT CHAMPIONS GO INTERNATIONAL FOR 2006
After winning the 2005 British GT Championship in a most decisive fashion, British team Scuderia Ecosse will be moving up to the GT2 class of the FIA GT Championship in 2006, racing two new Ferrari 430 GT2 cars. Although the team will be facing new surroundings, and competing on many circuits new to them, the driver line-up will look very familiar.
2005 British GT Champions Nathan Kinch and Andrew Kirkaldy have teamed up again and are hoping to continue their winning streak. The second car will be shared by Tim Mullen and Chris Niarchos, also stepping up to the international level and hoping for success, although they will also compete in Britain. Scuderia Ecosse has competed twice in the FIA GT Championship. At Donington in 2004, Kinch and Kirkaldy finished fourth in N-GT. At Magny-Cours last year, when the British GT2 cars joined the FIA GT Championship race, Kinch and Kirkaldy claimed a podium finish, while Niarchos and Mullen finished fourth. Previously, Nathan Kinch drove a Lister Storm in 2003, racing with Jamie Campbell-Walter, claiming one win and two podiums. Tim Mullen previously raced for Team Maranello Concessionnaires in 2003, winning one race. Kirkaldy also joined Team Maranello Concessionnaires at Spa in 2003, and claimed a podium for Veloqx in late 2002.
"This is a huge year for Scuderia Ecosse," commented Team Principal Stewart Roden. "We have had a lot of success with the Ferrari 360s - 19 wins in two years - so we are sad to see them go, but we have exciting times ahead with Maranello's latest gem! One of our biggest strengths is people power. I have a great team here, and our strength lies in continuity. By keeping the same team and the same drivers, we cut out all the acclimatisation time and can get straight down to business !" Nathan Kinch commented "We're all looking forward to the new FIA GT season. It's the logical step for us after winning the British Championship last year and it will be interesting to see the level of competition we are up against. We know it will be tough but we have a great car and a great team so we're feeling good."
Tim Mullen agreed: "Chris (Niarchos) and I are really looking forward to doing the FIA GT Championship this year as well as the British GT Championship. It will be great for Chris as he will be doing so much driving this year, and the more mileage he gets the quicker he gets, so I'm hoping for a great season. Our priority is the British Championship, it has to be, but we want to do the best job we can in the FIA GT and I think we will be right up there."
The team is scheduled to test at Jerez on April 3rd - 5th.