HUNGARIAN RHAPSODY FOR THE FIA GT
After Dijon and Mugello, the FIA GT Championship is heading back to another circuit not visited for a number of years : the Hungaroring, located near Budapest, in Hungary. The FIA GT Championship was a regular visitor to the Formula One circuit between 1998 and 2001, meaning that this will be the fifth visit. However, the circuit has undergone a number of changes in the meantime, and the circuit is now over 400 m longer than it was in 2001. As for the Championship, with only three races remaining in the 2006 season, the battles for the titles are beginning to escalate. Mugello, with its torrential rain, gave us a weekend of firsts. New Austrian team Race Alliance claimed its firstever win, its drivers Karl Wendlinger and Philipp Peter giving the Aston Martin DBR9 its first victory of the season. They finished ahead of the two Vitaphone Maserati MC 12 cars, the German team strengthening its hold on the GT1 titles. Italian team Ebimotors chose home ground in order to give Porsche its first win of the season, Luca Riccitelli and Emmanuel Collard making the most of the favorable weather conditions to cross the line ahead of the Ferrari 430 GT2s of AF Corse and JMB GruppeM. The resulting redistribution of penalty weights for Budapest could close up the title fights...
The last time the FIA GT Championship visited Hungary, victory went to Mike Hezemans and Jeroen Bleekemolen, in the Carsport Chrysler Viper GTS-R, while Christian Pescatori and David Terrien won the N-GT class in their JMB Competition Ferrari 360 Modena. Hezemans, Pescatori, GLPK-Carsport and JMB will all be back in contention this coming weekend, and will be sure to want to repeat their 2001 success. Budapest should see the return of the Renauer Porsche to the GT2 category, with Hungarian drivers Palik Laszlo and Zoltan Zengo at the wheel. BMS Scuderia Italia plans to enter two of its Aston Martin DBRS9 cars in the G3 category.
The Budapest Supercar 500 will also include a full timetable of national events, including the Suzuki Cup, Touring Car competition including Groups N, A, the Opel Astra Cup and the Wankel Cup, Touring Car Gr. F, and the Shell V-Power Racing Renault Clio Cup.
WHAT THE DRIVERS THINK
"I won last time we went there, which was good - but they've changed the circuit since then, and the main straight is longer. But it would be good to win again !" Mike Hezemans, GLPK Carsport Corvette C6
"I raced in Budapest during the 2001 season, although the track is now a bit different in corners 1 and 13. I think for this track, the traction is very important, as well as working hard on the balance for the race, when you lose fuel weight and tyre performance. The Hungaroring might be difficult for overtaking in Formula One cars, but that is absolutely not a problem for us in GT cars !" Andrea Bertolini, Vitaphone Racing Team Maserati MC 12