EUROSPORT SUPER RACING WEEKEND - ROUND 4
SILVERSTONE (GBR),11th/13th MAY 2001
The fourth round of the Eurosport Super Racing Weekends will be held at the British track of Silverstone. The Grand Prix circuit is situated approximately 100km north of London, between Northampton and Milton Keynes.
The FIA GT Championship has visited Silverstone every year, meaning that most of the regular teams and drivers are familiar with it. However, some of newcomers have only raced on the shorter International circuit. "At least I'll know some of the corners," said Carsport Holland's Jeroen Bleekemolen, who last raced there in Formula Palmer Audi. Rafanelli's Emanuele Naspetti names Silverstone as his favourite track "You can breathe the history of motor-racing there; it's full of nice corners, and even if it's not as fast as before, it's still very nice to drive. It's one of the circuits where the driver can make a difference."
The FIA European Super Touring Championship is returning to its roots, as 2-litre Super Touring was born in Great Britain in 1990. "I almost consider Silverstone as my own playground, having raced there so many times in the British Touring Car Championship," said Honda's Gabriele Tarquini. "I scored two of the most memorable wins of my career there, claiming the BTCC title in 1994, and winning the International Touring Car Championship round two years later to give JAS its first win. "Another driver who is looking forward to Silverstone is Championship runner-up Fabrizio Giovanardi. "I am really excited, because I always wanted to race in England, a country where Touring Cars are hugely popular. I just hope my car and I will be in the best condition, as we both suffered in the accident in the second race at Magny-Cours. But I will do my best in front of the British fans and I hope they will cheer for me, even if I will be fighting against some of their heroes such as Neal and Tarquini."
FIA GT Championship
Campbell-Walter and Coronel took their second win of the season at Magny Cours, reclaiming the lead in the Team and Drivers Classifications for Lister Storm Racing, just in time for their home round at Silverstone. However, they are closely followed by last year's N-GT Champions, Larbre Competition ChE9reau.
"At Silverstone, we intend to win again !" Jean Philippe Belloc warned, after finishing in second place at Magny Cours with Christophe Bouchut. Paul Belmondo Racing is currently in third place. For Silverstone, the team will be joined once more by Brno pole-setter Emmanuel ClE9rico, replacing team owner Paul Belmondo in the #11 Chrysler Viper. In the N-GT category, JMB Competition's first win for the Ferrari 360 Modena has placed them second, only seven points behind RWS Red Bull Racing, with Redolfi Orlando a further five points behind.
Prodrive make FIA GT Championship debut
At Silverstone, Prodrive will make their debut in the FIA GT Championship, with the first of two Ferrari 550 Maranello cars. It will be driven by two former British Touring Car Champions, Alain Menu from Switzerland and Rickard Rydell from Sweden. The car was designed, built and tested in just sixteen weeks. "We tested last week at the A1 Ring," Rydell explained. "The car obviously has a lot of potential; I'm very happy about it. It's fun to drive a 600 hp car, which is twice what I was used to in the BTCC. I'm looking forward to the Championship.
I've done Le Mans, and sportscar races in Japan, so I'm used to longer races. I know I have to be fit, so I've trained a bit harder. The team has a very professional approach, but we have not had enough testing before Silverstone. The first races are going to be a learning experience for us."
Lister Storm Racing (1st - 25 pts) regain FIA GT lead
Last year Jamie Campbell-Walter took his first international pole position at Silverstone. "That was an accident - this year I'd like to do it on purpose," the 28-year old driver from Scotland explained. "Silverstone is my favourite track of the season. It's quite technical, with some real drivers' corners and some very technical parts, where you need the car to work really well. We have two main advantages at Silverstone : it's our home track, so we have a good set-up, and we've done so many laps there, so we're well in tune with the place. Your home race really fires you up as a driver. But we're going to have 90 kg penalty weight, which can cost you half a second a lap. And the competition is really intense this season."
Team Rafanelli (4th - 8 pts) in progress
Naspetti and Schiattarella, driving the #5 Team Rafanelli Ferrari 550 Maranello, finished in fourth position at Magny Cours, their best result so far. "We have not had much luck this season, with no chance to work as we should, due to factors like the weather," Naspetti explained. "But the car has a lot of potential, and it's our job to make it work ! The car is very satisfying to drive, although it is still a bit difficult to control at times. We have to improve the traction and aerodynamics, and then it will be much better. Cars always look even more beautiful when they start to win !" Naspetti is looking forward to the challenge of Prodrive's entry into the championship. "They are one of the best companies in motor sport, and I can't wait to compete against them !" he said.
Team EMKA looking for some luck
British N-GT entrant, EMKA Racing, set some of the fastest times in pre-season testing in their Porsche 996 GT3-R. However, the team has not had much luck in the first three races. "We were running well at Monza when Steve O'Rourke went off," Tim Sugden explained. "I put the car into the gravel in Brno, and at Magny Cours we were fourth when Steve went off again. We know we have the potential to run in the top three or four in the class, if we keep it all toggether. We'll do our best for our home race, but I don't think we have any particular advantage. I like Silverstone, and Steve knows it very well, so I'm really looking forward to it."
FIA EUROPEAN TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP
Massimo Pigoli (AGS Motorsport Audi A4 Quattro) and Norman Simon (Ravaglia Motorsport BMW 320i) are still in the lead of the Michelin Trophies, respectively ahead of the STC Amateurs and the SPC Under 25 Trophies. Nevertheless the races in Magny Cours have revealed some new contenders. Gianluca De Lorenzi, driving his GDL Racing BMW 320i, won the Amateurs class in the second STC race, finishing in third position overall. In the same trophy, 20 year-old Enrico Toccacelo (Conrero Alfa Romeo 156) proved his consistency, scoring points in all the championship rounds so far. He is now second in the Amateurs classification. With Simon out of the SPC race due to a broken suspension, Fulvio Cavicchi won the Under 25 class, placing him third in the trophy's classification, 10 points behind Simon and 8 behind Edenbridge's Tom Ferrier. Cavicchi, in only his second Touring Car race ever, declared himself particularly satisfied with the improvement shown by the new Alfa.
SUPER TOURING CHAMPIONSHIP
Matthew Neal aims for Silverstone win
British driver Matthew Neal made an impressive first appearance in the FIA European Super Touring Championship at Magny Cours last weekend. Despite electrical problems, he qualified fifth in his Nissan Primera. Retiring early in the first race after a collision with Giovanardi at the start, he charged through the field in the second race to finish fourth. He also set the race's fastest lap, along with Nicola Larini. "I can't wait to race at Silverstone !" Neal exclaimed. "I really enjoyed my weekend in Magny-Cours, which allowed me to discover such a competitive series and some brilliant drivers I had never met before like Giovanardi and Colciago. Without some bad luck I'm sure I would have managed a much better result. But Silverstone will be different; I know that I stand a better chance than any of the others, so I definitely will be aiming for a win. I hope plenty of British fans will attend the meeting, to see me fighting against the Alfas, Hondas and Audis. If they do, they'll definitely have great fun."
SUPER PRODUCTION CHAMPIONSHIP
Carly Motorsport (1st - 67 pts): Duncan Huisman to defend SPC lead
The third round of FIA European Super Production Championship in Magny-Cours saw a change at the top of the general classification, with Carly Motorsport's Duncan Huisman overtaking Ravaglia Motorsport's Peter Kox. The two Dutchmen had a very tough fight that resulted in Kox crashing out of the race. Their battle is likely to continue at Silverstone, a track both Kox and Huisman like very much. "I am really confident, because I know the circuit very well from my British Touring Car Championship seasons and I am sure we will be able to find the right set-up and be competitive, as in the previous rounds," Kox stated. "My motivation is high, because at Magny-Cours I learnt what to do and what not to do. And I want to win for Roberto Ravaglia's team; it would be quite emotional for both of us, because in 1997 we won the FIA GT Championship round there sharing a McLaren-BMW." For his part, Huisman commented : "I like Silverstone and I have always been competitive there, winning the 1998 Dutch Touring Car round. It's the kind of track that suits me well, because I love fast corners. My goal will be to qualify in the first four positions of the grid and then fight to win the race. But I do not think it is going to be a private battle between Kox and me, because Gianni Morbidelli and Norman Simon will be very tough competitors too."
Carly Motorsport enters Belgian Champion
At Silverstone, the third Carly Motorsport 320i will be driven by 35-year old FrE9dE9ric Bouvy, one of the leading contenders from the Belgian Touring Car Championship. Despite only starting his motor-racing career in 1993, he has progressed rapidly, achieving outstanding results. After finishing third in the 1994 Peugeot 106 Trophy, he won the newly established Super Production class within the 1995 Belgian Procar Championship at the wheel of a works Peugeot 306. Since then, he has been a regular contender for the overall title, which he finally clinched in 1999. As a Peugeot works driver, he has also won the 24 Hours of Spa in 1999 and 2000. Bouvy, who will also drive the BMW #15 at Zolder, will without doubt be aiming to challenge the Dutch supremacy in the SPC. <pre> PRACTICAL INFORMATION:
Circuit Length: 5140m/3.194 miles
GT on TV: Eurosport Super Racing Weekend Saturday, 12th May 2001 - 17:00 - 18:30 : Qualifying live Sunday 13th May 2001 - 15:00 - 18:00 : Races live - 23.45 - 01.00 : Races relive Monday 14th May 2001 - 08.30 - 09.30 : Races relive Wednesday 15th May 2001 - 19:00 - 19:30 : Highlights
Other races Renault Formula 2000 Eurocup Historic Sportscar Championship
Websites: http://www.fia.com http://www.gtracing.net http://www.eurostc.com http://silverstone-circuit.co.uk/
2000 FIA GT Championship Results: GT pole: 1:48.653, J. Campbell-Walter (Lister) N-GT pole: 1:52.940, C. Bouchut (Porsche) GT race: Bailey/Campbell-Walter (Lister Storm) - 94 laps in 3:01.26.689 N-GT race: Bouchut/Goueslard (Porsche 996 GT3-R) - 91 laps in 3:02:54.379