EUROSPORT SUPER RACING WEEKEND ROUND 9 : JARAMA (SPAIN), 28th– 30th SEPTEMBER 2001
After the autumnal weather at the Nürburgring, the Eurosport Super Racing Weekends are moving south for the final two events. Round nine will be held at the Spanish track of Jarama, 28 km north of Madrid. The arid countryside surrounding the 3.858 km track will be a total contrast to the forests and hills of the previous round, and hopefully some warmer weather will be awaiting the teams and drivers.
This will be the first time either the FIA GT Championship or any recent major touring car Championships has visited Jarama. A host to series such as the Formula Nissan and the Spanish GT Championship, the track is tight and twisty, with evocative corner names such as Nuovolari and Ascari. A popular circuit for winter testing, the Spanish Grand Prix was often held at the track, the last time being in 1981.
The FIA GT Championship last visited Spain in 2000, when the first round of the season was held in Valencia. Spanish driver Antonio Garcia, who won the N-GT class in the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa with RWS Motorsport, knows the track well, having won there in the Formula Nissan Championship last season. He will be back at the wheel of the nr 76 RWS Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-R for this race. "It’s a nice track, uphill and downhill, but it will be the first time I’ve raced a sportscar there. It should be good."
ETCC driver Luis Villamil was born in the Asturias region of Spain but lives in Madrid, and knows the track well. Currently ninth in the Super Production Championship, he drives an Alfa Romeo 156 for Scuderia Bigazzi. "Jarama is a difficult track that demands a lot of drivability and requires a perfect set-up. As I know the circuit very well, I have a little advantage because I can start to work on the set-up from the first laps of Saturday’s free practice, while the others will have to spend time learning the track."
FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP
Championship Rundown The previous round of the FIA GT Championship saw Larbre Competition Chéreau claim the 2001 GT Teams title, while Lister Storm Racing took their third win of the season. The podium saw three different cars in the top three positions for the first time this year– a Lister Storm, a Chrysler Viper and a Ferrari 550 Maranello. There is still a close fight for second place in the GT category, with Lister Storm Racing only five points behind Carsport Holland, and only one point separating Jamie Campbell-Walter and the Dutch duo of Mike Hezemans and Jeroen Bleekemolen in the Drivers classification. Although the GT titles have been awarded, the title fight continues in the N-GT category, where only five points separate the rivals, RWS Motorsport and JMB Competition. Battle has been fierce between the Ferrari 360 Modena and the Porsche 996 GT-R all season, and with two rounds remaining, everything is still wide open. Freisinger Motorsport, which has finished in second place in the last three races, also has a mathematical chance of taking the title.
Larbre - Chéreau (1st, 82 pts) : weight off at last Although Larbre Competition Chéreau claimed the FIA GT Teams Championship at the Nürburgring, the nr 7 Chrysler Viper GTS-R finished in seventh place, the worst result of the season for Christophe Bouchut and Jean-Philippe Belloc. "Basically, we’re suffering because our car is still very standard," Bouchut said. "We were hoping for a new evolution of the engine from Caldwell, but the current international situation means that has been cancelled. We’ve lost 20 kg, but it won’t make much difference. Still, as we have achieved our goals, it means we will not be under any stress for the final races. We would like to maintain our position as the team that has won the most races." The team’s nr 50 Porsche 996 GT3-R will be driven by Patrice Goueslard, Sebastien Dumez and Jean-Luc Chéreau.
Carsport Holland (2nd, 47 pts) : defending their second place Hezemans and Bleekemolen finished in second place at the Nürburgring, while the second Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper crashed out at the start. "It wasn’t badly damaged– just the front splitter, radiator and bumper," Mike Hezemans explained. With Lister Storm Racing close behind, the team needs to work hard to secure their second place in the Championship. "I haven’t driven there before, so it will be new to me," 19-year old Jeroen Bleekemolen said. "But I think it should be OK. I have heard it’s twisty and not so quick, so it might be good for us like the Hungaroring was. 100 kg penalty weight is still difficult, but we’ll have to see how the other teams cope with the track. We really want to be second in the Teams and third in the Drivers Championships. With a bit of luck we should be able to make it. It’s been a really good season."
Paul Belmondo Racing (4th, 36 pts) : definite improvements Both Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper GTS-R cars finished in the points at the Nürburgring. For the Spanish race, all three yellow and blue cars should be competing, with Brno pole-setter Emmanuel Clérico back in the line-up. "I know the Jarama track quite well," Boris Derichebourg said. "I tested there in F3000 and also did some Dunlop tyre testing there in early 2000. The changes we made to the team for the Nürburgring, with the engineers, worked pretty well. The team knows the track and should have a good base to work from. Everything is falling into place, but I think we reacted a bit too late. We need to really push for the last two rounds– at least we don’t have much weight to worry about. We’ve got Dunlop tyres that work really well, and the team has found a good set-up." Anthony Kumpen is also looking forward to the race. "I think we should go well, but it is extremely tough and harder now to win than at the start of the season. Getting into the Superpole is hard. You have to squeeze every ounce of power and grip out of the Chrysler Viper for one lap, and there is a big risk to go off, but it's fun to do."
Lister Storm Racing (3rd, 42 pts) : a good mood Lister Storm Racing driver Jamie Campbell-Walter hopes that the team’s Nürburgring win signals the end of its run of bad luck. "The car was fantastic during the last race, and I think the conditions helped us a bit, as our wet and dry set-ups are quite similar, unlike some of our rivals," he explained. However, he has never driven at Jarama before. "It should be interesting. The Lister Storm entered in the Spanish GT Championship has raced there, so we have some data that could be useful. We should start out with the right gear ratios, and save some time. The Lister won at that track, so it looks as if it is good for the car, with quick corners and hairpins, although there is also a very long, fast straight. I’m not looking forward to seeing the speed of the Vipers or Ferraris down there !" Lister Storm Racing claimed the British GT Championship last weekend. "So everyone is in a good mood, and we’re hoping to fight for the second place in both the Teams and Drivers classifications. It would also be nice to see Julian Bailey and Nicolaus Springer on the podium."
Prodrive Allstars (equal 5th, 14 pts) Second win ? The nr 15 Ferrari 550 Maranello has finished on the podium for the last two races, with a win in Austria and third place in Germany, meaning that the car will carry 60 kg penalty weight for the Jarama race. Swedish driver Rickard Rydell will be joined once more by Alain Menu, from Switzerland, who drove the car when it made its debut in Hungary.
Rafanelli (equal 5th, 14 pts) absent Neither Team Rafanelli Ferrari 550 Maranello will take part in the Jarama round of the FIA GT Championship, but it is hoped that the Italian-run cars will return for the final round in Estoril.
N- GT CHAMPIONSHIP
RWS Motorsport (1st, 53 pts) : a close title fight The nr 77 Porsche 996 GT3-R finished in sixth place in the previous round, meaning that N-GT Championship leader Luca Riccitelli now has a five points lead over David Terrien and Christian Pescatori, whose JMB Competition Ferrari 360 Modena finished eighth. "If we have a race without so many difficult situations as at the Nürburgring, I am sure we can start to win again," Luca explained. " I’m optimistic for the title, and I think we still can win." RWS Motorsport is putting two young drivers in the team’s second car for the Jarama round. Reigning Formula Nissan champion Antonio García will rejoin the team, having missed the past two rounds due to F3000 commitments. 20-year old Timo Bernhard will also be joining the team. Bernhard, current leader of the German Porsche Carrera Cup, took part in the Monza round of the Porsche Supercup, finishing in second place.
JMB Competition (2nd, 48 pts) hopes to take the lead With four wins to their credit, and five points behind RWS Motorsport in the Teams classification, JMB Competition are within reach of their goal, the FIA N-GT title for the Ferrari 360 Modena in its first full season of competition. However, the cars have struggled in the previous two rounds. "The Porsches are very quick at the moment," said Christian Pescatori. "And we were struggling at the A1 Ring and the Nürburgring - to be two seconds off the pace is a lot. At least we are two equal, balanced drivers, and we’ll do our best to try and get a good result."
Freisinger Motorsport (3rd, 35 pts) looking to win Freisinger Motorsport has been the team to watch in the latter part of the season, with the nr 57 Porsche 996 GT3-R finishing in second place in the last three races. The driver line-ups are not yet known for Jarama, but Frenchman Xavier Pompidou hopes to finish the season with the German team. "It went well at the Nürburgring," Pompidou explained. "My lap times were similar to those of Stephane Ortelli, and my stint went very well. Both the team and Porsche were happy with me, I think. Stephane and I would really like to drive together for the last race in Estoril."
Perspective Racing (joint 5th, 26 pts) : goal achieved "Our aim this season was to compete in an international series, and to show what we could do," team owner and driver Thierry Perrier explained. "With three podiums, I think we’ve achieved that goal. The team has definitely improved over the season - we manage to assimilate knowledge quickly. We might not be up with the category leaders, RWS or JMB, but we’re competitive."
Paco Orti Racing joins the FIA GT Championship Spanish team Paco Orti Racing will be entering a Porsche 996 GT3-R at Jarama. The car will be driven by its regular drivers, Paco Orti and Wolfgang Kaufmann. They regularly compete in the Spanish GT Championship with a Porsche 911 GT2, and have also entered a Porsche 996 GT3-R in the European Le Mans Series. Kaufmann drove for Freisinger Motorsport earlier this season, finishing second at Zolder. "We raced at Jarama earlier this season– it’s a great track, with changes of elevation, slow and quick corners. The car is one or two years old, and doesn’t have the latest modifications. Paco has been a rally driver for many years, and although this is only his second year on circuits, he is learning fast. It would be great to get in the Superpole. As for the race, we’ll have to see. But I feel confident and motivated !"
Circuit Length : 3.858 km/ 2.393 miles
On air on Eurosport :
Saturday, 29th September 2001
17:30– 19:00 : Qualifying - delayed
Sunday 30th September 2001
13:30– 16:30 : Races– LIVE
Monday 1st October 2001
08:30– 10:00 : Relive Sunday’s races
Wednesday 3rd October 2001
22:00– 22:30 : Special show highlights
(repeated 4th October from 10:30– 11:00 and
5th October from 12:30 to 13:00)
Renault Formula 2000 Eurocup ; FC Euro Series ; FFSA Formula France European Trophy