After the longest weekend of the season comes the most northerly, as the teams and drivers taking part in the LG Super Racing Weekend head to Sweden, and the Scandinavian Raceway in Anderstorp. This is the second time that the multi-series platform will be visiting the Swedish track, scene of the Swedish Formula One Grand Prix between 1973 and 1978. Last year, despite torrential rain during part of race day, some excellent on-track action took place at the circuit, when it hosted the fifth event 5 of the 2002 season.
In the FIA GT Championship, Jean-Denis Deletraz and Andrea Piccini took their second win of the season in the BMS Scuderia Italia 550 Maranello, while Stephane Ortelli and Emmanuel Collard were victorious in N-GT in the Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS. This year, those same teams and cars are currently leading the Championship, with BMS Scuderia Italia having had a run of six wins in the GT class, while Freisinger Motorsport has won the past three races, including a historic overall win in the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa.
In 2002, Neel Jani dominated the Anderstorp round of the Formula Renault Eurocup, with a full sweep of pole position, win and fastest lap. The Swiss teenager, currently second in the Formula Renault V6 Eurocup, will surely be hoping to repeat his 2002 performance, to allow him to close up on current leader Jaime Melo of Brazil. Both the early season leaders are being chased by Tristan Gommendy of France, who won the last round, at Spa. However, before heading for Sweden, the FR V6 drivers will be back in action this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps. The Renault Sport Clio Elf International Cup will also be in action in Sweden.
Since last year, a lot of changes have taken place at the Scandinavian Raceway. Although the layout itself remains unchanged, all the run-off areas have been cleared and refilled with 2000 cubic metres of the Leeca material for which Anderstorp is famous. Around 1500 metres of tyre barriers have been set up, and the pit area has been redesigned, with 22 nine by eight metre tents as substitutes for the permanent pit buildings which it was not possible to finish in time.
ANDERSTORP - ACCORDING TO RICKARD RYDELL
Rickard Rydell is undoubtedly one of Sweden's leading Touring Car drivers, a former British Touring Car Champion, and a star in the FIA European Touring Car Championship since last season. Having driven for the Volvo factory team in 2002, Rydell returned to the Championship this year with ART Engineering, the Italian team which has continued to race the Volvo S60 cars. After a difficult start to the season, new engine developments from the factory have helped to see an improvement over the past two meetings, and the Swedish driver took his first podium of the season on familiar territory in Donington Park.
"Anderstorp is quite a tricky track. It has a very long straight and three or four medium-high speed 80 corners to be negotiated in third gear. You need a very good balanced car to be competitive there. The engine is important on the straight, but not as much as one could expect. A good balance in cornering and under braking can make up for the lack of top speed.
"Setting your car up, you must give priority to stability; you definitely have to avoid oversteer while entering in the corners. Brakes are not a problem, Donington was much worse from that point of view.
"Normally the races in Anderstorp are quite fun to watch at. A lot of overtaking used to take place at the end of the long straight; the spectators sitting in the infield also have quite a good view of the action."
After six rounds, BMS Scuderia Italia has yet to lose a race. After five wins for Thomas Biagi and Matteo Bobbi, who still lead the GT class in the Drivers Classification, the nr 22 car, driven by Lilian Bryner, Enzo Calderari, Fabrizio Gollin and Luca Cappellari, won the GT class at Spa, finishing second behind the history-making Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS of Stephane Ortelli, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas. This means that the Italian team leads Lister Racing by 41 points in the GT Teams Classification. In the GT Drivers classification, Bobbi and Biagi have 50 points; their nearest rivals are Bryner and Calderari, 11 points behind, with Gollin and Cappellari a further point adrift. The highest-placed non-Ferrari driver is Lister's Andrea Piccini, with 31 points.
In N-GT, Ortelli and Lieb now lead the Drivers points with 48 points, 13 more than JMB Racing's Fabrizio De Simone, with Team Maranello Concessionaires' Jamie Davies on 33.5 points. In the Teams Classification, Freisinger Motorsport lead TMC by 20 points, with JMB Racing three points behind the British team.
Handicap weights for Anderstorp include 75 kilos for the nr 22 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello, with 60 for the nr 23 and 30 for the nr 21 Care Racing Ferrari. Absent at Spa, the nr 8 GMN Saleen and the nr 10 JMB Racing Ferrari should carry 60 kg as a consequence. In N-GT, the nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche and the nr 57 MENX Ferrari will both carry 40 kg, with the nr 99 RWS Yukos Porsche on 45 kg, both the latter including 30 kg for missing Donington and Spa respectively.
An error in the 12-hour results at Spa saw the points for 7th and 8th place inversed, giving the nr 89 TMC car and drivers half a point extra and the nr 53 JMB Racing half a point too few. This does not make any significant changes in the classification, but the points have now been adjusted, and an updated version has been attached.
SMALLER RESTRICTORS FOR BMS SCUDERIA ITALIA
Further to a decision from the Bureau of the GT Commission, the two BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello cars, which have won the GT category in all six rounds this year, will have smaller air restrictors from the next round in Anderstorp. Article 78 of the 2003 FIA GT Championship Sporting Regulations states that in order to maximise equality of performance, the Bureau reserves the right to adjust the minimum weight of the car, the air restrictor sizes or the fuel tank capacity. Having checked the performance of the nr 22 and 23 Ferrari Maranello, the Bureau has decided to reduce the size of the restrictors for these cars, from 32.1 to 31.6.
BMS has a healthy lead in both points tables, with Matteo Bobbi and Thomas Biagi leading the GT Drivers by 11 points, while the team has a lead of 41 points in the Teams classification. "Although we have to change the restrictors, we will do everything possible to stay in front. We are still quite confident for Anderstorp and Oschersleben," team logistics manager Marco Streparava explained. "But our engine is not the most powerful, and we are worried about Monza, which is a fast track. We still need more data. Bobbi and Biagi are ready to fight, as are Cappellari and Gollin - we have a real in-house fight between the two line-ups. There are no team orders, and the fighting is very good natured; it is good for our team that we they can compete on the same level. I think the end of the season will be very difficult, with the races so close together. But the holidays have given everyone renewed energy and we are all keen to get back to the track."
LISTER RACING : STERKX TO JOIN PICCINI IN THE NR 15; NEW ENGINE FOR THE
Lister Racing is currently second in the Teams Classification, scoring a total of 8 points in the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa. The nr 15 Storm finished in fourth place in the GT category, and the team has announced that Belgian driver David Sterckx, who shared the car with Piccini, Lancieri and Pickering, will be back in the car at Anderstorp, alongside Andrea Piccini.
As for the nr 14 car, which crashed out in the heavy rain shortly before the six-hour point, it will have a new engine for Sweden. "It's still the same block, but with new internals, and I am looking forward to running it," Jamie Campbell-Walter explained. "We have been developing it for 2004, but we hope to get it running now so that it will be 100% reliable for next year. It should be a good race - we had pole last year, and it's a good track for us. I'd really like to get a win soon - otherwise this could be my first year in the Lister without a victory. We're taking a bit of a risk with the new engine, but we hope it stays together. It should give a small increase in horsepower, which would put us up with the Ferrari and Saleen in straight line speed, and with our chassis advantage, I'm quite confident for a front row start." The nr 15 car will have the standard engine. "Andrea can still aim for the Championship, so we decided to run things this way," Jamie explained. The team will have a shakedown at Silverstone before packing up for Anderstorp.
A SECOND CAR FOR CREATION AUTOSPORTIF
From Anderstorp onwards, British team Creation Autosportif will be entering a second Lister Storm, to be driven by Jean-Marc Gounon and Paul Knapfield. Gounon was a late transfer to the team at Spa after the withdrawal of the nr 21 Care Racing Ferrari, while Knapfield drove for Lister Storm Racing last season, alongside Creation driver Bobby Verdon Roe, with a best result of second at Silverstone. The nr 6 Storm, in the hands of Verdon Roe and Marco Zadra, has had a good debut season, scoring points at each round, and is currently lying 5th in the Teams Classification. "We bought the car two months ago," team principal Ian Bickerton explained. "It is the ex-Warnock British Championship car. Jean-Marc did two and a half laps in the Lister at Spa and said it was a nice car to drive. I was one of his mechanics in F3000, and I worked with Paul Knapfield at Lister last year." The move to Lister makes Gounon one of the drivers who have driven the most different cars in the Championship, having been behind the wheel, over the past seven years, of a McLaren F1 GTR, a Mercedes CLK GTR, a Chrysler Viper, a Porsche 996 GT3, a Ferrari 550 Maranello, a Saleen S7-R and now a Lister Storm.
The team tested at Jarama this week before heading for Sweden. "The test went really well, better than anyone expected," Paul Knapfield said. "Bobby Verdon Roe and Jean-Marc Gounon were there, and the new car ran faultlessly, with two days constant running. Both Bobby and Jean-Marc were very helpful, as I had not been in the car for over a year, and they gave me a lot of help. We all set times within one second of each other. Jean-Marc is obviously very experienced in terms of set-up, and he gave the team a lot of useful information. Everything is looking good for the race, and we all left Spain smiling !"
ROOS OPTIMA LOOKS FORWARD TO HOME RACE
"We are very excited, as the LG Super Racing Weekend event in Anderstorp is a big thing in Sweden," Henrik Roos explained. "Except for the Swedish round of the World Rally Championship, it is the biggest motorsport event. The circuit has done a really good job in terms of promotion, and I really think they can expect crowds of up to 40,000. Last year, despite the football World Cup and the dreadful weather, nearly 20,000 people still came to watch." The nr 11 Chrysler Viper, shared by Henrik and his team-mate, Magnus Wallinder, has had a good season so far, scoring points at most rounds and making a heroic effort to reach the finish line at Spa, finishing 7th in GT. "We spent over 5 and a half hours in the pit lane, after a big crash in the night. When you compare this to Freisinger , who spent around 32 minutes in the pits, it is amazing. The mechanics worked really hard, and refused to give in. But that is our philosophy - we aim to get to the finish line in every race, and failure is not on our map." The Viper has been completely overhauled since Spa, with new gearbox, rear axle etc. A final word on the weather. "It's about 10 but sunny in Stockholm today. I think we could have some nice weather for the Anderstorp weekend. I hope so !"
HISTORIC WIN INCREASES FREISINGER'S LEAD
After the nr 50 Porsche 996 GT3-RS took a historic win in the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, winning the race outright ahead of all the cars in the GT category, the team has increased its lead in the Teams classification, while drivers Stephane Ortelli and Marc Lieb have taken the lead in the Drivers classification, after claiming the full twenty points available at Spa, allocated after six, twelve and twenty-four hours.
The second car, of Bert Longin and Gabriele Gardel, was less lucky, being forced to retire after a collision during the third hour of the race. "For Anderstorp, our cars will be back to the same configuration as in Donington," team manager Michael Hinterberg explained. "We especialy want to improve the competivity of our nr 51 car, both for the team championship and because we want Bert and Gabriele to be in the top ten at the end of the saison. Anderstorp should be a good place for the Porsche and for our drivers, even if two of them don't know the track. For us, it is important to get a good result because we know that Oschersleben will be very hard. If we want to go to Oschersleben with no pressure, we absolutely need to keep the advantage we have now."
TEAM MARANELLO CONCESSIONAIRES TESTS AT ADRIA
British team TMC, currently second in the N-GT Teams Classification, has been busy since the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa. As well as entering a round of the BRDC British GT Championship at Thruxton, the team proceded to the Italian Adria Raceway track for a test with the car's developer, Michelotto, to test a number of enhancements. "Spa seems a distant memory, although it was only four weeks ago. The team has continued with its development work, and it shows. The car feels better than ever," Kelvin Burt explained. The changes to the driver line-up inaugurated at Spa will continue for the rest of the season, with Jamie Davies and Darren Turner sharing the nr 88 Ferrari 360 Modena, while Kelvin Burt and Tim Mullen drive the nr 89 car. "We have continued to work on a number of new initiatives with Michelotto in Padova, and whilst our engineers were confident of progress on paper, we wanted to put this new-found knowledge into practice ahead of round seven in Sweden," Team Manager Rod Benoist explained. "The car's pace is better than ever, and we can leave for Anderstorp next week confident of producing the results we need in our fight for the Championship."
PERGL AND JANIS FOR MENX
After finishing in an excellent third place in N-GT during the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, Team MENX is heading for Anderstorp, where drivers Robert Pergl and Jarek Janis are hoping to fight for more Championship points in their Ferrari 360 Modena. "The whole team is looking forward to returning to racing," Pergl said. "Spa was a major boost for everyone. This will be another unfamiliar circuit for me, but I am getting quite used to learning them now. We definitely want to score more points." Janis is also looking foward to another outing in the Ferrari. "I have never raced in Sweden, and do not know the track, but I learned the car in Spa, so the change from Formula 3000 should not be a big problem. I have worked well with the team, and I am looking forward to another racing weekend." Team manager Ivo Horn agreed : "Anderstorp is new to us, so we will be trying to find a good set-up on Friday, and to get the necessary information on fuel consumption and tyre wear. The car was completely rebuilt after Spa, and we hope for the same level of reliability we enjoyed during the 24-hour race."
TOTO WOLFF TO RACE FOR RWS YUKOS
Austrian driver Toto Wolff, a race winner in 2002 with Italian team Autorlando, will be racing for RWS Yukos in Anderstorp, alongside Frenchman Stephane Daoudi. Wolff had an excellent season in 2002, with four podium finishes including a win at Oschersleben with Philipp Peter, and second place at Silverstone with Johnny Mowlem. Wolff had previously raced for RWS in 2001, and during the 2002 Proximus 24 Hours of Spa. After scoring its best result of the season at Donington, with second place for Daoudi and Johnny Mowlem, RWS Yukos Motorsport only entered one car at Spa, which was shared by Russian drivers Nikolaj Fomenko and Alexei Fomenko, Stephane Daoudi and British driver Adam Jones. The nr 77 Porsche 996 GT3-RS was fifth in N-GT after six and twelve hours, but retired shortly before 6:00 with engine failure while lying third in class. The team is currently fourth in the Teams classification, with 26 points.