The first year of the Eurosport Super Racing weekends came to a successful conclusion at Estoril on October 21st, with the title battles in the FIA N-GT, FIA European Super Touring and Super Production Championships all being decided in the final races.
The 2001 season of the FIA GT Championship was run over 11 rounds around major European circuits. Over 170 drivers took part this year, representing more than 20 nations, 110 of them scoring points and appearing in the Championship Classification. Chrysler Vipers, Lister Storms, Ferraris, Porsches and a Lamborghini took to the track, with on average 33 cars taking part in each race.
The GT championship saw the 2000 Champion team, Lister Storm Racing, take an early lead, but the Storms were soon caught and overtaken by the Larbre Competition Chéreau Chrysler Viper, the French team having moved up to the top class after dominating N-GT the year before. A one-two in the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, with the resulting double points, gave Larbre’s Bouchut and Belloc the Drivers title, and virtually ensured the Teams title as well. The second half of the season saw the successful debut of the Prodrive Ferrari 550 Maranello, which took two wins and a third place, while the alterations which put the Carsport Chrysler Viper out of contention in the first races, eventually paid off, with the Dutch team taking second place in the Teams classification after winning in Budapest and Estoril. Three wins for Lister put the British team third.
If the GT titles were settled early on, the N-GT battle went on until the very final chequered flag of the year. RWS, with two Porsche 996 GT3-R cars, and JMB Competition’s Ferrari 360 Modena cars, were the great rivals. The two teams eventually finished on equal points, meaning that JMB took the Teams title thanks to their five wins. JMB drivers David Terrien and Christian Pescatori beat RWS’s Luca Riccitelli by three points to take the Drivers title. Art Engineering, Redolfi Orlando and Perspective Racing also took wins in this fiercely contended category during 2001.
The FIA European Super Touring Championship was run over twenty 50-km races. The grid for the second of each weekend’s two races was based on the result from the first race, but in reverse, so that the last classified driver took the pole. 35 drivers from nine nationalities took part, driving Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Honda, Nissan, Opel and Volvo cars. Throughout the season, Nordauto’s Alfa Romeo 156 cars fought with the JAS Honda Accords for the title. Gabriele Tarquini won 9 races, but the consistency of Nordauto’s Fabrizio Giovanardi eventually won out, giving the Italian his fifth consecutive Super Touring title. His team-mate, Nicola Larini, gave Nordauto its 100th win in the process. Other race winners included Audi’s Roberto Colciago, Honda newcomer Fabrice Walfisch, Britain’s Matt Neal in a Nissan and, at Estoril, Yvan Muller, joining Nordauto for one event only.
The Super Production Championship consisted of ten 70-km races. The BMW 320i cars dominated the start of the season, with first Ravaglia Motorsport’s Peter Kox and then Carly Motorsport’s Duncan Huisman leading the classification. During the second half of the season, however, the RJN-prepared Nissan of Norwegian driver Tommy Rustad came to the fore. Peter Kox held on to narrow lead to give Roberto Ravaglia’s team the Drivers’ title, while the Teams title went to Carly Motorsport. Over 37 drivers from 10 nationalities took part, driving Alfa Romeo, BMW, Honda, Nissan, Peugeot and Renault cars
A full review of the season, with all the teams, drivers, results, releases and photos is available on www.superracingweekends.com
Carsport Holland moves to Pirelli, joins with Racing Box, and signs
Carsport Holland, which finished in second place in the FIA GT Championship in 2001, has announced a number of major changes for 2002. The team’s two Chrysler Viper GTS-R cars will be running on Pirelli tyres. “ We tested their tyres in Valencia, in Spain, and they were good,” Mike Hezemans explained. “ Pirelli really want to win the FIA GT Championship, and they are very focused, and working hard to achieve that goal. I tested 37 sets of tyres for them in Valencia, and did 388 laps. We should be doing around 40 test days with them, including tests at Vallelunga and Sebring shortly.” The team has also announced their line-up for the new season. Mike will be driving with Anthony Kumpen, who previously drove for Paul Belmondo Racing.“ He’s fast, he knows the Viper and the circuits, he speaks Dutch, and we get on well together,” Mike explained. The young Belgian driver already drove for Carsport in Road Atlanta, where they finished third in their class.
The second car will be driven by two Italians, FIA GT regular Luca Cappellari, and former BTCC front-runner Fabrizio di Simone. With two Italian drivers and an Italian tyre manufacturer, Carsport also announced that it would be joining forces with Italian team Racing Box. “ We really needed some Italian personnel, and some more good mechanics. This will also really help our communications,” Mike continued. “ The team will still run under the name Carsport Holland, but Racing Box will deal with the logistics, leaving us more time for the development. Everything is looking good for next year !”
Lister : working quietly for 2002
Lister could not hold on to the FIA GT title they won in 2000, finishing third in the Teams classification, after three wins. However, team manager Laurence Pearce was not despondent. “ I feel we were never beaten on pace by anybody, anywhere, in 2001, which I’m quite happy about,” Laurence Pearce added.“ You can’t win every year– you should not be able to win every year. But next year, no-one will be able to get near my cars !”
The team is currently working on the normal winter development of the car. “ We have an engine development program underway, and we are working on making the current cars faster, as well as rebuilding the workshop,” Lister Storm Racing’s Fiona Pearce explained. Having decided to postpone their 24 Hours of Le Mans project until the Petit Le Mans in the autumn, the team will be able to concentrate on reclaiming the GT title.
RWS Motorsport : preparing to fight again
After a season-long battle, RWS finished on equal points with eventual winners JMB Motorsport in the N-GT Teams classification, with lead driver Luca Riccitelli only three points behind Terrien and Pescatori. “ We should be back with two or maybe three Porsches next season,” team manager Rudi Walch declared. “ It should be a good fight. However, we do not yet know which tyres we will be using. We are currently working on preparing two cars for the 24 Hours of Daytona, where our line-up should include Luca Riccitelli, Dieter Quester, Vincent Vosse and Eddie Cheever. For the FIA GT Championship, normally Quester and Riccitelli should be back, possibly with two young drivers. It’s still too soon to say. But we are definitely working on better fuel consumption for next year– we are going the right way !”