Eurosport Super Racing Weekendt
Round 3 : Magny Cours (France), 29th April / 1st May 2001
For the third round of the Eurosport Super Racing Weekends, the FIA GT and European Touring Car Championships will be in the heart of France, at the circuit of Magny Cours, host to the French Grand Prix. The track, 4.25 km long, is close to the town of Nevers, approximately 250 km south of Paris. Unusually, the races are being held on a Tuesday, as the 1st May is a public holiday in France.
Last year, the FIA GT Championship held its final round at the challenging French track, and, in one of the most exciting races of the year, the battle for the GT Team and Drivers titles continued until the very last laps. Lister Storm Racing eventually claimed both Championships after a win for Julian Bailey and Jamie Campbell-Walter. Most of last season's protagonists will be back in action, with the addition of new players, such as the two Ferrari 550 Maranellos entered by Italian team Rafanelli.
The circuit last hosted an international Touring Car race in 1996, when a round of the FIA International Touring Car Championship was held there. At that time, Alfa Romeo was in dominant form, with Alessandro Nannini winning both races ahead of his team-mates Nicola Larini and Giancarlo Fisichella. "I regret that I have never obtained good results there, because it's one of my favourite tracks," said JAS Honda driver Tarquini. "It's a very demanding circuit, not trivial at all and for brave drivers. It takes strong nerves to go flat out in the fast corners and the chicanes!"
FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP
A busy weekend The race weekend will also include rounds of the French FFSA GT Championship, meaning that some teams and drivers will have a busy time.
Reigning FIA N-GT Champion Patrice Goueslard is currently leading the French Championship, and Freisinger Motorsport's Wolfgang Kaufmann is one of his main rivals. FIA GT Championship leader Christophe Bouchut is competing for Larbre Competition in the GT Cup, while JMB Competition also races a Ferrari 360 Modena in the French series.
Larbre Competition-Chereau (1st - 16 points) confident Champions last season in the N-GT class, Larbre Competition-Chreau has made a successful move up to the GT class, taking the lead after just two races. With French drivers Christophe Bouchut and Jean-Philippe Belloc at the wheel of the nB07 Chrysler Viper GTS-R, the team hopes to repeat their Brno win on home ground. "I think we must have a slight advantage, as we know the circuit extremely well, which makes up for the lack of technical data concerning the car," Bouchut said. "Brno proved that the Lister cars have a problem in the rain. I live only 100km from Magny Cours, and it hasn't stopped raining all year !" The team is hoping to test at Val de Vienne on Tuesday.
Lister Storm Racing (2nd ex. - 13 points) : Coronel's favourite track Tom Coronel will be back alongside Jamie Campbell-Walter in the nB01 Lister Storm Racing for the third round of the Championship, and the Dutch driver is looking forward to the race. "I always have success at Magny Cours," he explained. "It's the combination of corners that I like, with the high-speed chicanes and lots of braking points. I've always gone well there - in the European Formula Opel series, and in German Formula Three. I have a good feeling there, something to do with the atmosphere. It's very relaxing, with no stress - it makes a nice change." The team are hoping to improve on their Brno result in France.
"The cars ran reliably in Brno, but we were caught out by the weather. Our aim is to get two cars in the points - and it would be nice to get both cars in the front of the Superpole too !" press officer Fiona Pearce said.
Paul Belmondo Racing (2nd ex- 13 points) : aiming for the first win of the season After a third-place finish at Monza, and second in Brno, Paul Belmondo Racing is hoping to take the top step of the podium at Magny Cours.
"It's a circuit we know well, so our objective is to do even better," explained Boris Derichebourg, driver of the nB0 12 Chrysler Viper GTS-R with Belgian Vincent Vosse. "Now we want to build on everything we've done so far. Everyone is working towards our goal - the team, the drivers and Dunlop." The engine in the nB0 12 Viper will be changed before Magny Cours, after some problems in Brno. "The Championship is definitely a lot closer than last year. Lister seems to have the advantage, although I think we're quite equal with Larbre Competition-Chereau. But we need to work on our strategies. One area that we're strong is in the Superpole; we've got all three cars in at both events. But I like Magny Cours - and I think I should shine !" Boris concluded. Claude-Yves Gosselin will be driving the nB010
Chrysler Viper with Anthony Kumpen, while Paul Belmondo and Didier Defourny drive the nB011.
Carsport Holland (5th - 4 points): testing before Magny Cours There were mixed fortunes for the Bleekemolen family at Brno. While youngest son Jeroen raced to a third place finish with Mike Hezemans in the nB0 3 Chrysler Viper GTS-R, the father and son team of Michael and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen ground to a halt one hundred metres before their pit, after fuel consumption problems. "It was disappointing, as I was looking forward to the pit stop," Sebastiaan said, after his first-ever endurance race. "We had two main problems at Brno -we didn't know the track or the car. But I like the race style. I was behind the wheel for one hour and twenty minutes, whereas my longest previous race was only thirty minutes." On the circuit, he explained : "Last year, at Magny Cours, I watched the GT Championship for the first time, while I was competing in the Clio Trophy. I thought it looked like a nice series, and now I'm racing in it ! So the track has a special place in my heart !" said Sebastiaan. Carsport Holland will be testing at the A1 Ring (Spielberg) in Austria next week.
Silver Racing for the rest of the season
Belgian team Silver Racing, whose Chrysler Viper GTS-R finished 19th overall at Brno, plans to enter the remaining eight rounds of the 2001 FIA GT Championship, as well as the 24 Hours of Spa. The car was driven by team-owner Eric de Doncker and fellow Belgian Robert Dierick.
RWS Motorsport (1st - 16 points) : hard fight ahead.
Luca Riccitelli and Dieter Quester, driving the nB077 Porsche 996 GT3-R, took their first win of the season in Brno. "Considering the weather in the first part of the race, and the wear to the tyres in the second, I think we did a good job," Riccitelli said. "We're now in the right mental frame to pull ahead and do our best to win the Championship. But I am sure we will face a lot of competition in Magny Cours. The Larbre Competition cars will be very strong, as they test there a lot, and are sure to have the perfect set-up for their Porsche 996 GT3-Rs. And the JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena is very fast, with two very good drivers, Terrien and Pescatori. There are at least five cars that can fight for the win. But we will do our best to get as many points as we can, as I think it is going to be a hard fight all the way down to the last race of the season."
Orlando (2nd - 11 points) : new drivers pairing
The #69 Porsche 996 GT3-R, the surprise first-round winner at Monza, will have another change of drivers for Magny Cours. Austrian Philipp Peter, who drove alongside Venezuelan Johnny Cecotto in the first race, will be back, after missing Brno due to Porsche Supercup commitments. At Magny Cours he will be partnered by 20-year old Swiss F3000 driver Joel Camathias, who is currently joint 9th in the F3000 classification, having finished in fifth place in Brazil.
Larbre Competition-ChE9reau (3rd - 8 points) : on the way to the first podium finish
Defending champions Larbre Competition-ChE9reau are currently third in the N-GT Classification, having placed both Porsche 996 GT3-R cars in the points at Brno. "Brno went very well, considering I'd never been there before," Sebastien Dumez explained. "For Magny Cours, we'll be at home, and it's one of the few tracks this season I already know, so I hope we can make the podium. The start to the season hasn't been easy, due to a number of mistakes and some strategy problems with the team and the drivers. With the GT Viper and two quick N-GT Porsches, it has taken a while to blend everything together. But now we've sorted all that out, and we should quickly start improving and scoring points."
Sylvain Noel (Haberthur Racing Porsche 996 GT3-R) : familiar territory at last
"Up until now, our results have not been fantastic," French GT newcomer Sylvain Noel admitted. Noel, driving with Laurent Cazenave in the nB0 60 Haberthur Porsche 996 GT3-R, has had a difficult start to the season. "The level is much higher than where we have been racing before, and we have to learn the circuits every time. So the other N-GT teams have a definite advantage. Our team is extremely experienced, but that can't make up for our lack of local knowledge. We usually spend Friday learning the track, and only start really setting up the car during qualifying. Magny Cours is the first track where we'll be on familiar ground. I adore the circuit, and I know it by heart, so it should be easy to adapt. We are therefore hoping to make the Superpole for the first time and score our first points of the year !" <pre> Circuit Length : 4250 m/2.6408 miles
GT on TV : Eurosport Super Racing Weekend Monday, 30th April 2001 : 16:00 - 17:30 : Qualifying live
Tuesday 1st May 2001 08:30 - 09:45 : repeat of Monday's program 13:30 - 16:30 : Races live 24:15 - 01:15 : Race repeat
Wednesday 2nd May 2001 10:30 - 12:00 : race repeat 20:00 - 20:30 : Highlights
Thursday 3rd May 2001 11:30 - 12:00 : Highlights repeat
Friday 4th May 2001 09:30 - 10:00 : Highlights, repeat
Other races Renault Formula 2000 Eurocup French FFSA GT Championship, French Caterham Challenge, French Series GT Cup
2000 Results : GT pole : 1:36.215, Philippe Favre, Lister Storm N-GT pole : 1 :39.909, Christophe Bouchut, Porsche 996 GT3-R Race : GT : Bailey/Campbell-Walter (Lister Storm) - 106 laps in 3:00.24 N-GT : Bouchut/Goueslard (Porsche 996 GT3-R) - 102 laps in 3:00:47.487
Timetable : Saturday 28.04 14.10 - 14.40 : Renault Formula 2000 Eurocup - Free Practice 1
Sunday, 29.04 08.45 - 09.15 : Renault Formula 2000 Eurocup - Free Practice 2 09.30 - 11.00 : FIA GT Championship - Free Practice 11.15 - 12.15 : French FFSA GT Championship and Cup - RACE 1 12.30 - 13.00 : Renault Formula 2000 Eurocup - Qualifying 1 13.35 - 14.10 : French FFSA Series GT Cup - RACE 1 14.25 - 15.55 : FIA GT Championship - Free Practice 2 16.20 - 17.20 : French FFSA GT Championship and Cup - RACE 2
Monday, 30.04 08.30 - 09.00 : Renault Formula 2000 Eurocup - Qualifying 2 09.15 - 09.30 : FIA European Super Production Championship - Free Practice 1 09.45 - 10.00 : FIA European Super Touring Championship - Free Practice 120 10.15 - 11.00 : FIA GT Championship - Qualifying 1 11.15 - 11.45 : FIA European Super Production Championship - Free Practice 2 12.00 - 12.30 : FIA European Super Touring Championship - Free Practice 2 14.00 - 14.30 : Renault Formula 2000 Eurocup - Race 15.00 - 15.30 : FIA European Super Production Championship - Qualifying 15.40 - 15.50 : FIA European Super Production Championship - Press Conference 16.00 - 16.30 : FIA GT Championship - Super Pole 16.30 - 16.45 : FIA GT Championship - Qualifying 16.55 - 17.05 : FIA GT Championship - Press Conference 16.55 - 17.25 : FIA European Super Touring Championship - Qualifying 17.40 - 17.50 : FIA European Super Touring Championship - Press Conference
Tuesday, 01.05 08.30 - 08.45 : FIA European Super Touring Championship -Warm Up 09.00 - 09.15 : FIA European Super Production Championship - Warm Up 09.30 - 09.45 : FIA GT Championship - Warm Up 10.30 - 11.00 : FIA European Super Touring Championship - RACE 1 11.40 - 14.40 : FIA GT Championship - RACE 15.00 - 15.10 : FIA GT Championship - Press Conference 15.08 - 15.33 : FIA European Super Touring Championship - RACE 2 15.53 - 16.28 : FIA European Super Production Championship - RACE 16.45 - 16.55 : FIA European STC / SPC - Press Conference