LG Super Racing Weekend - Round 2 -- Silverstone -- May 4th/5th 2002 2001 saw the start of an exciting new concept, when two major FIA Championships joined forces, under the aegis of pan-European Sports TV channel Eurosport, to set up a weekend...
LG Super Racing Weekend - Round 2 -- Silverstone -- May 4th/5th 2002
2001 saw the start of an exciting new concept, when two major FIA Championships joined forces, under the aegis of pan-European Sports TV channel Eurosport, to set up a weekend of exciting motorsport action.
With the close racing and big names of the FIA European Touring Car Championship, the thrill of endurance racing, with pit-stops and driver changes, in the form of the FIA GT Championship, and the up-and-coming youngsters in the leading single-seater series, Formula Renault 2000 Eurocup, the Eurosport Super Racing Weekends visited ten top European tracks. Closely fought battles on the track, thrilling races and worthy winners, with the benefit of live television coverage, the concept proved a great success.
For 2002, the concept has been renewed, and renamed, following the addition of title sponsor LG. With the television coverage reorganised for greater viewing pleasure, and the addition of two exciting new support events, the Renault Sport Clio Trophy and the Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy, another great year is in prospect. The first round of the season took place at the French track of Magny Cours, where the fine spring weather saw crowds of 58000 watch some excellent racing. The first round of the FIA GT Championship was won by British team Lister Storm Racing, with their dramatic Storm car in the hands of leading British driver Jamie Campbell-Walter and his German team-mate Nicolaus Springer. The N-GT category was won by the JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena, with reigning N-GT Champion Christian Pescatori and former Formula One driver but GT newcomer Andrea Montermini at the wheel. The first-ever FIA European Touring Car Championship races with the new Super 2000 cars saw 2001 FIA European Super Touring Champion Fabrizio Giovanardi win both rounds, in an Alfa Romeo, while French driver Eric Salignon had a home win in the Formula Renault Eurocup.
The LG Super Racing Weekend series returns to Silverstone on the weekend of May 4th and 5th, for the second round of the season. Last year, during an excellent week-end of racing in warm, sunny weather, eventual Champions Christophe Bouchut and Jean-Philippe Belloc won the GT Championship race in their Larbre Competition Chéreau Chrysler Viper GTS-R, while David Terrien and Christian Pescatori won the N-GT class in the JMB Competition Ferrari 360 Modena. Both rounds of the FIA European Super Touring Championship were won by the JAS Honda driven by Gabriele Tarquini, while Ravaglia Motorsport's Peter Kox won the FIA European Super Production Championship at the wheel of a BMW 320 i. Augusto Farfus won the Formula Renault 2000 Eurocup round, before proceeding to take the title later in the season.
With Silverstone being a popular track with teams and drivers alike, it is fervently hoped that the good weather which usually greets us in Great Britain continues, for another weekend of excellent motorsport. Unusually, the FIA GT Championship race will be held on the Saturday evening, with the chequered flag due to fall after sunset. An additional draw for the home crowds will be the rounds of top national series, the British GT Championship and British Formula Three Championship.
FIA EUROPEAN TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP
After the 2001 season, when two separate Championships took place for cars complying to the Super Touring and Super Production specifications, a new set of regulations have come into force for 2002 : Super 2000. Teams and Manufacturers have been busy building the new cars in time for the start of the season, and, if the races at Magny Cours are anything to go by, an extremely exciting season is in store.
Touring car races are a near guarantee of close races, even closer overtaking manoeuvres, and plenty of frantic action packed into 50 km races. Twenty-one cars have signed up for the season, and at least ten former touring car champions -- both from national and international series - will be behind the wheel, as well as plenty of talented, fast drivers eager to claim their first touring car title. Manufacturers competing for the Manufacturer's Title include BMW, Volvo, Nissan and Alfa Romeo.
The British Contingent
Although Volvo is a Swedish brand, the S60 Volvo Racing Team is entered by British company Prodrive, the force behind the Subaru Rally team and many other successful motorsport ventures. One of the two Volvos will be driven by young British driver James Hanson, in his second year in international competition. Rickard Rydell will be in the second car; he might be Swedish, but much of his career has been spent in Britain, racing in the British Touring Car Championship, which he won for Volvo in 1998.
RJN Motorsport is entering two Nissan Primera cars in this season's FIA European Touring Car Championship. One car will be driven by Norwegian Tommy Rustad -- a former Independent Cup winner in the 1998 British Touring Car Championship; the second driver is yet to be named.
A second British driver will be at the wheel of an Alfa Romeo Gta. 20-year old Tom Ferrier is the youngest driver to be taking part in the Championship; a role he has grown used to during his years in the British Touring Car Championship, when he also drove the Italian brand. He will be driving for brand-new Italian team Dart Racing IP.
BMW UK is also supporting two of the BMW 320i E46 cars entered by Carly Motors -- Team Isert, which are driven by Gianni Morbidelli and Tom Coronel.
Watch out for --
* For the last five racing seasons, Fabrizio Giovanardi has won the Championship in whatever series he competed. Three national titles, the Euro STC title in 2000 and the FIA European Super Touring Championship in 2001 - Fabrizio is sure to be aiming to make is 6 in a row this year, driving his Alfa Romeo 156 Gta, entered by Gta Racing Team Nordauto.
* Fabrizio De Simone is returning to racing after an absence of two years, after being a race-winner for BMW Italy in the Italian Super Touring. This year, he partners Jordi Gené, brother of Williams test driver and former Formula One driver Marc Gené, in the BMW Team Spain BMW 320i E46 cars.
* Peter Kox, driving for Carly Motors ^Ö Team Isert, was another regular in the BTCC driving for Honda in 2000 when he won the Snetterton night race. He will drive alongside former Formula Nippon Champion Tom Coronel, and Gianni Morbidelli, who drove for Volvo in the BTCC in 1999.
* BMW Team Deutschland is run by touring car legend Schnitzer, another familiar name to the British Touring Car fans, having competed in the BTCC between 1993 and 1996, claiming the 1993 championship with Joachim Winkelhock. The drivers are Jörg Müller and Dirk Müller ^Ö no relation to each other.
FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP
Now in its sixth season, the FIA GT Championship has seen numerous changes over the years. From the heady days of the mighty GT1 cars, through to today's stable and popular format. Three hour, 500 km races, with highly professional private teams entering cars in the GT and N-GT categories. Chrysler Viper, Ferrari 550 Maranello, Lister Storm and Porsche 996 GT are battling for GT honours this year, while the Ferrari 360 Modena and Porsche 996 GT3-R fight it out in N-GT.
The British Contingent
Lister Storm Racing hardly needs an introduction, the British team being one of the mainstays of GT racing over the last years. With numerous wins in both the FIA GT Championship and British GT Championship, the team won the FIA GT Championship Teams and Drivers titles in 2000. Last year, the team finished third in the classification, having won three races. This year, Lister Storm Racing returns with two of the mighty Lister Storms. The drivers in the nr 14 car will be Jamie Campbell-Walter, part of the 2000-Championship winning team and Nicolaus Springer from Germany, while Britain's Bobby Verdon-Roe and Paul Knapfield share the nr 15. Campbell-Walter and Springer were victorious at Magny Cours, while Verdon-Roe and Knapfield had been running third before a broken throttle cable took them out of the race. The cars always run well at Silverstone, so a repeat performance could be on the cards !
Jamie Campbell-Walter is 29 years old. He started motorsport in the usual junior formulae such as Formula Vauxhall before moving to GT racing in 1997. He won the British GT Championship with Lister and Julian Bailey in 1999, before moving up to the FIA GT Championship in 2000, winning his second title. Silverstone is his favourite track, and he has had some excellent races there.
Bobby Verdon-Roe has been racing since 1988, and won the TVR Tuscan Challenge in 1997. He first drove in the FIA GT Championship in 1999, with Lister, and then returned in 2001 for the final two races. His best result was 2nd at Estoril. This year he will be driving with fellow British driver Paul Knapfield, who is just starting on his racing career. He drove a number of rounds last season for Freisinger Motorsport, at the wheel of a Porsche 996 GT3-R, as well as some races in the British GT Championship. This will be his first full season.
The other British team taking part is Cirtek Motorsport. The team, owned by Rob Schirle, has previously taken part in the Championship, initially involved in running the Ford Saleen Mustangs which took part in the 1997 races, and then with a Porsche 911 GT2. Now returning with a Porsche 996 GT3-R, Schirle is looking forward to a full year of the FIA GT Championship. Although the drivers have not yet been fixed for the full year, Rob could have some surprises for the Silverstone round.
Former British Touring Car and Renault Clio Trophy competitor Ian Khan finished in the second place in N-GT at Magny Cours in his first-ever race in the FIA GT Championship. He is driving alongside experienced German team-owner Jürgen von Gartzen in the JVG Racing Porsche 996 GT3-R.
Watch out for --
* Rapid Frenchmen Christophe Bouchut and David Terrien in the #1 Larbre Competition Chéreau Chrysler Viper. Bouchut, triple 24-hour winner of Le Mans, Daytona and Spa, won the 2000 FIA N-GT title and continued his run of success by taking the overall GT title in 2001. 25-year old Terrien followed in Bouchut's footsteps by claiming the 2001 N-GT title in a JMB Competition Ferrari Modena 360. Together, they should form a fast and furious partnership in the 2002 evolution of the Viper. Running with the 2001 version of the engine and gearbox at Magny Cours, they finished third, and are confident of improving when the car has been updated. At Silverstone they will be joined by Vincent Vosse from Belgium.
* Former Formula One drivers such as Jean-Pierre Jarier, Philippe Alliot and Andrea Montermini. At 55, Jarier the veteran of 135 Grand Prix can still put in some amazing performances on the track. Alliot took part in a total of 109 Grands Prix between 1984 and 1994, while Montermini drove in Formula One in 1995 and 1996.
* Two fast Italians in a Ferrari ! Look out for Christian Pescatori, who partnered Terrien to the N-GT title last year, and former Formula One and CART driver Andrea Montermini. They won the Magny Cours race and are currently leading the Classification.
* Freisinger Motorsport, with leading drivers Ni Amorim and former Le Mans winner Stéphane Ortelli in a Porsche 996 GT3-R. They crossed the line first at Magny Cours in the N-GT category, but were later excluded as the fuel tank did not comply with regulations. This decision is under appeal, and the drivers should be out to prove themselves in Round 2.
* Famous sons of famous fathers -- Paul Belmondo, son of French actor Jean-Paul, has made a name for himself in Motorsport. Having made it all the way to Formula One, he set up his own team 5 years ago. This is his fourth year in the Championship, and his leading Chrysler Viper is driven by two very fast men, Marc Duez and Fabio Babini. David Hallyday is the son of French rock legend Johnny Hallyday. A singer and songwriter in his own right, he has been racing since 1989, and won his class in the French GT Championship last year. Having set up his own team with former Formula One driver Philip Alliot, the two of them will be driving a beautiful Ferrari 550 Maranello. The car failed to start at Magny Cours, after suffering a broken gear-box in the warm-up, but had been running well before then. Silverstone should see them make their real race debut!
FORMULA RENAULT 2000 EUROCUP
The Formula Renault 2000 single-seater series has captured headlines recently, as its young champions have gone on to Formula One glory. Kimi Raikonnen and Felipe Massa both graduated from Formula Renault, with Felipe Massa winning the Eurocup in 2000. Last year, the series was won by Augusto Farfus, now racing in the Euro F3000 series. Ryan Briscoe, a Toyota test driver and F3000 driver, was also a contender last year. For 2002, the series is bound to bring some more potential champions to light.
The British Contingent
Two British drivers are due to make their Eurocup debut this season : Adam Smith and Stephen Simpson. Simpson previously drove in Formula Ford
Look out for --
* Eric Salignon won the French Formula Renault Championship in 2001, and also won the Austrian round of the Eurocup. Racing for Graff Racing, he is one of the favourites for this season. He confirmed this in fine form by winning the first race at Magny Cours
* Robert Kubica is from Poland, and was chosen as part of the Renault Driver Development program at the end of last year. He finished second at Magny Cours.
* Bruno Spengler is Canadian, and racing for Swiss team Jenzer this season, his second in motorsport. He won the Magny Cours round last year, after opting for a clever tyre choice.
* German driver Marcel Lasee captured the headlines this winter when he was called up for a test drive with Jordan. Last year, his best result was 2nd place in Austria.
* Young Frenchman Franck Perera is a driver with a big future planned out for him. He was chosen to be part of the Toyota driver development program when he was still only 16. This will be his first year out of karting, and he will be driving for Prema Power Team this year, hoping to follow in the footsteps of fellow Toyota driver Ryan Briscoe, who won the Italian Formula Renault Championship last season as well as the final two rounds of the Eurocup.
RENAULT SPORT CLIO TROPHY
New to the Super Racing Weekend series this year, the Renault Sport Clio Trophy is an action-packed single-make series. The cars are identical, with some extremely fast drivers behind the wheel, guaranteeing close fighting and spectacular battles on track. Last year's Champion, Italian Luca Rangoni is returning to defend his title, as are most of his 2001 rivals, along with a few extremely talented newcomers. Possible British drivers this season include Ian Khan, Paul Lomax and Rik Pearson.
Rangoni won the first round, confirming his intention to make it three in a row. However, there are plenty of talented drivers out to stop him, including Frédéric Gabillon, who finished second in the first race, and Portuguese driver Rui Aguas.
Others to watch include Frenchmen Jérôme Policand and Anthony Beltoise, who finished second and third respectively in 2001, and former F3000 driver Fabrice Walfisch, who is joining the series this year.
LAMBORGHINI GTR SUPERTROPHY
The most exclusive single-make series around -- the Lamborghini Diablo cars are powerful, loud and spectacular on and off the track. The racing is fast and furious. The series has a pro-am philosophy, with talented amateur drivers sharing their impressive cars with some leading professionals, while some big names make guest appearances.
French drivers such as Emmanuel Clérico and Jean-Marc Gounon have been mainstays of the Supertrophy, along with other great names from Motorsport, such as former Formula One team owner Gerard Larrousse, who has returned to the competition with Team Riverside. Last year, British driver Lee Cunningham had an excellent season, winning the Gentleman Drivers' class at Magny Cours and Donington Park, to claim the Gentlemen Drivers title. This season he will be racing in the Pro-Am category, alongside fellow British driver Rory Pasey in a car entered by German team Reiter Engineering. The remaining British driver will be Robert Shaw, competing in the Gentleman Drivers class in a car prepared by AutoVitesse.