And it starts again !
The 24 hours of Le Mans have barely finished, but the "protos " are already planning their next race at Magny-Cours. The FIA Sportscar Championship will be racing in France on June 29th and 30th, and the nr 13 will be at the start.
This race marks the mid-season point for the Championship, with three rounds having taken place at Barcelona, Estoril and Brno, and four more on the calendar after Magny-Cours : Imola (July 21st), Rockingham (August 18th), Nürburgring (September 15th) and Spa (September 22nd).
"We are wondering whether to continue with the FIA Championship or not, " Yves Courage had said after Brno, when the meagre Sports Prototype grid had suffered in comparison with the FIA GT, racing the same weekend at the same track. The presence of the Blues at Magny Cours does not, however, mean that the Courage team owner has settled the question. It is more a case of seeing this as an opportunity, right after the 24 Hours, to race almost at home, and to salute the French public, who rarely have an opportunity to watch prototypes in action, outside the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Courage finished a modest 15th place in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, for the 20th anniversary both of the creation of the team and of its first participation in the legendary race (1982).
" We were extremely satisfied to see that our car was competitive, but, due to a lack of long-distance testing before the event, we knew that we would be at the mercy of any number of small problems. We have not yet fully analysed the reasons for breakage of the clutch bearing which lost us 90 minutes in the pits. At Magny Cours, we will not be using the Le Mans car, but the car we used at Brno. The engine used during the 24 Hours has been sent back to Judd to be revised, and we will have the V 10 we used during the previous rounds of the FIA Championship, and which we also used during qualifying at Le Mans. ".
The Magny-Cours race could be a turning point in the Courage's season. 5th in Barcelona, 2nd in Estoril, 2nd in Brno, and currently second in the Championship, Courage is just four points behind the team led by Jan Lammers. A win would mean that they have a Championship lead to defend, whilst knowing that towards the end of the season, the focus will turn to the United States of America, with races in Miami and Road Atlanta (Petit Le Mans) on the calendar. The ALMS being the waiting-room for Le Mans, this means that preparations for the 2003 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the last to be run under the current technical regulations, will soon get underway !
Positions after Barcelona, Estoril and Brno:
Teams: 1- Racing For Holland (Lammers, Hillebrand, Dome-Judd) 42 pts; 2- Courage (Cottaz, Derichebourg, Courage C 60-Judd), 38 pts ; 3- Team Oreca (Beretta, Minassian, Montagny, Dallara-Judd), 35 pts ; 4- Pescarolo-Sport (Boullion, Bourdais, Lagorce, Courage C 60-Peugeot), 30 pts : 5- R & M (Baldi, Caffi, Sospiri, R & M), etc.
Constructors : 1- Courage (France), 50 pts ; 2- Dome (Japan), 42 ; 3- Dallara (Italy), 35, etc.
Drivers : Val Hillebrand (Belgium) and Jan Lammers (Netherlands), 42 pts ; 3- Didier Cottaz (France) and Boris Derichebourg (France), 38 ; 5- Olivier Beretta (France) ; 35 ; 6- Jean-Christophe Boullion (France), 30 pts ; 7- Mauro Baldi (Italy) and Sébastien Bourdais (France), 20 pts, etc.