The FIA Motor Sport World Council met in Paris on Wednesday and allowed the number of full season entrants in the Championship to be increased from 30 to 38. Three cars among the 38 selected will be joining the series later in the season : the Ferrari 550 Maranello of Prodrive Allstars, the Lamborghini Diablo of Reiter Engineering and the third Lister. 36 cars are due to take part in the first round at Monza, including 16 GT and 20 N-GT cars, with four different makes of car and six different models represented.
More Changes for Lister Storm Racing Due to contractual problems, Swiss driver Philippe Favre, who twice captured pole position for the British team last season, will no longer be driving the second Lister Storm with Nicolaus Springer. This last-minute change has brought Julian Bailey back into the team on a full-time basis, with one 2000 FIA GT Drivers Champion in each of the two cars. "It should make qualifying very interesting," team press officer Fiona Pearce commented. "We're not happy about losing Philippe, of course, but we're very pleased Julian was able to step in." When Tom Coronel misses the Brno and Nurburgring rounds due to Dutch touring car commitments, his place in the #1 Lister Storm will be taken by frequent Lister driver Richard Dean.
2000 winner Hezemans ready for 2001
Last year, the Monza 500 km race was the third round of the Championship. Despite heavy rain during qualifying, Mike Hezemans took his first pole in the Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R, and, with his team-mate David Hart, proceeded to take his first race win. "It's not a particularly difficult track -- but it's good, and fast. The changes we have made to the car are not particularly appropriate for Monza," Hezemans explained. "For example, we have a lot more downforce, but we won't need it there. I think the test days showed the potential of the car. As to whether we can win again, there are just too many variables at this stage of the year." The second Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper will undergo a shakedown session at Zandvoort this weekend before the two cars are taken to Monza.
Team Rafanelli confirms drivers for Ferrari 550 Maranello Domenico "Mimmo" Schiattarella has been confirmed as the fourth driver for Team Rafanelli's two Ferrari 550 Maranello cars. Schiattarella, who raced the team's sports prototype last year, will drive with Emanuele Naspetti in the # 5, while Marc Duez and Gunther Blieninger will share the # 6. Schiattarella last raced in the FIA GT Championship in 1997, when he shared a GBF Lotus GT1 with Ferrari Formula One test-driver Luca Badoer. "I know the team very well, having driven for them for two years," Mimmo said. "I think that Emanuele and I will form a very strong package, and I hope the Ferrari will be strong enough to compete with the Lister, which, I am sure, will be the car to beat." In the official test days, the Ferrari was third fastest. "We were happy with the Monza test, but the second car is completely new, so we will have another test at Vallelunga on the 27th March, with all four drivers," said team manager Giorgio Piccolo.
Two cars for Autorlando he Italian team Autorlando, regular competitor Tin the FIA GT Championship since 1999, has entered cars in both GT Tand N-GT classes this year. A Porsche 911 GT2 will be shared by TItalian trio Gabriele Sabatini, Marco Spinelli and Fabio Villa, while TVenezuelan Johnny Cecotto and Austrian Philipp Peter will drive a TPorsche 996 GT3-R. Peter took part in the Sports Racing World Cup last Tyear, finishing joint third in the drivers' classification, at the Twheel of a BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 333SP. He has also frequently Tdriven in endurance races for RWS, including the Budapest round of the TFIA GT Championship last year. "I'm very happy with the team, and we've Tmade good progress in the test days," Peter said. "I should be doing Tall the rounds that do not clash with the Porsche Supercup. For most Traces I'll be sharing the car with Swiss F3000 driver Joel Camathias, Tbut as he will be in Brazil, Johnny Cecotto will be replacing him. I'm Treally looking forward to driving with him !" A former motorbike World TChampion, 45-year old Cecotto competed in Formula One in 1983 and 1984, Tbefore concentrating on touring cars, winning the German Supertouring TChampionship in 1998 with a Schnitzer BMW.
Driver changes for RWS Motorsport RWS Motorsport team owner Rudi Walch, entering two Porsche 996 GT3-R cars in the N-GT category, was faced with serious driver problems before the first round of the 2001 championship. "Hans-Jorg Hofer cannot drive as he has been hospitalized. And, sadly, Bob is not here any more," Walch said. Bob Wollek, who was supposed to drive for RWS this season, was killed in a road accident at Sebring last weekend. As for Luca Riccitelli, he is making good progress after his serious crash during testing at Monza. "He is not 100%, but he is getting better all the time," Rudi said. Riccitelli and Austrian driver Dieter Quester will drive one car. Italians Fabio Mancini and Luca Collini, who won the Austrian round of the FIA GT Championship last year, driving an Art Engineering Porsche 996 GT3-R, will share the other.
Smith joins Freisinger Motorsport British driver Nigel Smith, who finished 5th in the N-GT Drivers classification last year with Pennzoil Quaker State G-Force, has joined German team Freisinger Motorsport for the 2001 season. The team is entering three Porsche 996 GT3-R cars, one for the Russian drivers crew of Vassiliev and Fomenko, one for Freisinger regular driver Wolfgang Kaufmann and 1998 Le Mans 24 Hours winner and frequent FIA GT competitor Stephane Ortelli. Smith will share the third car with a driver yet to be named. "I felt this was the best option for the season. I drove with the team at Sebring, and it seems like a good team. Kaufmann and Ortelli should make an exciting team, and it'll be interesting driving with them -- I should learn a bit !" Smith said. <pre> Timetable Friday 30 March 2001
10.15-10.45 : Renault Formula 2000 Eurocup : Free Practice 1 11.00-12.30 : FIA GT Championship : Free Practice 1 14.00-14.30 : Renault Formula 2000 Eurocup : Free Practice 2 15.00-16.30 : FIA GT Championship : Free Practice 2 16.45-17.15 : Renault Formula 2000 Eurocup : Qualifying 1
Saturday 31 March 2001 09.00-09.15 : FIA European Super Production Championship : Free Practice 1 09.30-09.45 : FIA European Super Touring Championship : Free Practice 1 10.00-10.30 : Renault Formula 2000 Eurocup : Qualifyng 2 10.45-11.15 : FIA European Super Production Championship : Free Practice 2 11.30-12.15 : FIA GT Championship : Qualifying 1 12.30-13.00 : FIA European Super Touring Championship : Free Practice 2 14.00-14.30 : FIA European Super Production Championship : Qualifying 15.00-15.30 : Renault Formula 2000 Eurocup : RACE 16.00-16.30 : FIA GT Championship Qualifying : Super Pole 16.30-16.45 : FIA GT Championship : Qualifying 17.00-17.30 : FIA European Super Touring Championship : Qualifying
Sunday 1 April 2001 09.00-09.15 : FIA European Super Touring Championship : Warm Up 09.15-09.30 : 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 15.05-15.30 : FIA European Super Touring Championship : RACE 2 15.50-16.25 : FIA European Super Production Championship : RACE