After the excitement of the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, and the welcome month-long break, the teams taking part in the 2003 season of the FIA GT Championship have headed north, for the Swedish track of Anderstorp. The track, which hosted the fifth...
After the excitement of the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, and the welcome month-long break, the teams taking part in the 2003 season of the FIA GT Championship have headed north, for the Swedish track of Anderstorp. The track, which hosted the fifth round in 2002, is 4.025 km long, with a very long main straight, and some interesting banked corners. Last year, after heavy rain disrupted the start, the BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello won the race, with Andrea Piccini and Jean-Denis Deletraz behind the wheel. Emmanuel Collard and Stéphane Ortelli were victorious in N-GT, in a Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS.
Although it was slightly misty and cool in the early morning, the sun was shining brightly by the time that the cars took to the track for the first free practice session. The day remained warm and sunny throughout.
- 29 cars are due to take part in this seventh round, with 17 in the GT category and 12 in the N-GT category.
- Creation Autosportif is running its second Lister Storm for the first time in Sweden. The nr 19 car, which will be driven by Jean-Marc Gounon and Paul Knapfield, is bright yellow with blue details, compared to the nr 6 car, which is blue with yellow wheels. This brings the total number of Lister Storm cars to four.
- David Sterckx of Belgium, a driver for Lister Racing in the last two editions of the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, will be racing alongside Andrea Piccini in the nr 15 Lister Storm.
- The nr 14 Lister is a different chassis, as the car which crashed at Spa is currently being rebuilt. Jamie Campbell-Walter and Nathan Kinch will drive this car for the remainder of the season.
- Formula 3000 driver Jaroslav Janis, who finished third in the N-GT category at Spa with MENX, has rejoined the team for this round. He will share the nr 57 Ferrari 360 Modena with Robert Pergl.
- Swedish driver Tony Ring will be behind the wheel of the Wieth Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello this weekend, with regular driver Wolfgang Kaufmann.
- Adam Jones, who drove for the team in the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, has rejoined RWS Yukos to share the nr 99 Porsche with Stéphane Daoudi. Toto Wolff, a race-winner last year for Autorlando, should be in the car for the final three races of the season.
- Team Maranello Concessionaires has maintained the driver line-up change it brought in for the previous round. Jamie Davies and Darren Turner will share the nr 88 Ferrari 360 Modena, while Kelvin Burt and Tim Mullen drive the nr 89.
First Free Practice Session : BMS Scuderia Italia and EMKA fastest With smaller air restrictors, but with 40 kg less penalty weight than in Donington, the nr 23 Ferrari 550 Maranello of Matteo Bobbi and Thomas Biagi set the fastest time in this morning's first 90-minute free practice session around the 4.025 km Anderstorp track. However, the nr 15 and 14 Lister Racing Storms were close behind, with Andrea Piccini setting a lap of 1:31.625, just 0.086 of a second slower than the best time from the nr 23 Ferrari, 1:31.539. "It's going well," Matteo Bobbi said. "We have been working on the race set-up as it is very important for us to get Championship points here after failing to score at Spa."
The nr 14 Lister, which is a different car from that driven earlier this season, and which is actually the nr 15 from 2002, was third fastest, three tenths ahead of the nr 9 JMB Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello. However, the car was involved in a collision with a Viper late in the session, with Nathan Kinch at the wheel, damaging the steering. The nr 2 Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7-R of Konrad, Seiler and Lechner Jr, was fifth, ahead of the nr 6 Creation Lister Storm. There were problems for the two Graham Nash Saleen cars, which spent most of the session in the garage, the nr 7 suffering from a failed clutch slave cylinder and the nr 8 having a problem with a bolt on top of the engine head. Both should be out again in the afternoon. In N-GT, the nr 61 EMKA Racing Porsche 996 GT3-RS of Sugden and Collard was fastest, with a time of 1:34.123, closely followed by the nr 52 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena of Andrea Bertolini and Fabrizio De Simone, which has a new sequential gearbox this weekend. The nr 88 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 360 Modena was third, ahead of the nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS.
Second Free Practice Session : Konrad and TMC set the pace A close session, punctuated by four red flags while various cars were retrieved from the gravel beds, saw the top six cars set times within one second - a Saleen, two Lister Storms, two Ferrari 550 Maranello cars and one Chrysler Viper GTS-R, promising a close and exciting race on Sunday. The track was faster in the afternoon for the GT cars, and although Andrea Piccini was fastest for much of the session, in the nr 15 Lister, it was Walter Lechner Jr who set the fastest time, near the end of the 90 minutes. In the nr 2 Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7-R, the young Austrian driver set a lap of 1:32.023. "The lap was OK, but not 100%, as I did not use new tyres," he said. "But it's looking good for tomorrow."
The nr 15 Lister Storm of Andrea Piccini and David Sterckx was second fastest, three tenths faster than the nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello. Bobbi and Biagi's afternoon time of 1:31.461 was nearly a tenth of a second faster than their overall best time in the morning session. The nr 14 Storm lost much of the session while the consequences of the morning's collision were fixed. However, the car was ready by the end of the afternoon, and Jamie set the seventh time, having made a number of changes to the set-up. The nr 9 JMB Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello of Philipp Peter and Fabio Babini was fourth again, ahead of the nr 5 Force One Festina Chrysler Viper of Mike Hezemans and Anthony Kumpen. There were engine problems for the new nr 19 Creation Lister, but the team's nr 6 car Jamie Davies set the best N-GT time in the afternoon, with a lap of 1:34.358 in the nr 88 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 360 Modena. "We've been working through the car and gradually setting it up, and at the end I just hooked up a good lap, so I am reasonably happy," he said. The nr 61 EMKA Racing Porsche 996 GT3-RS of Sugden and Collard was second-fastest, but their morning time of 1:34.123 remained the best N-GT lap of the day. The nr 52 JMB Racing Ferrari set the third time, ahead of the nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS.
Walter Lechner Jr - nr 2 Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7-R : "I haven't driven much today, but Franz did a good job on the set-up. We had a number of small problems, but it is much better to have them now than in the race ! My fastest lap was OK; but not 100%, as it was not on new tyres. But it is looking good for tomorrow. Last year, Anderstorp was the first race I did in the Championship, but I prefer the weather now ! The Saleen is very nice to drive, more like a Formula car, which I am more used to driving. But I still don't know the limit, and I am sure I can get more out of it as I get more used to driving it." The car also lost a wheel during the session, bringing out the red flags, and losing the team some time, before Walter set the fastest lap of the session at the end.
NOTES AND QUOTES
Marco Zadra - nr 6 Creation Autosportif Lister Storm : "I went into the gravel on the first banked corner. I tried to carry more speed into the corner, but I had some understeer. I braked, then had oversteer, and went off. It's been a month since I've been in the car, so I have to get used to it again ! The car is OK, though, but the gravel had to be cleaned out of it."
Jamie Campbell-Walter - nr 14 Lister Storm : "Everything seems to be going OK. We've got a different car, the one that Bobby Verdon-Roe and Paul Knapfield drove last year, and it feels slightly different. But I think we' re all chasing for the right set-up; we've got a bit of understeer and a bit of oversteer ! You really need a different set-up for the banking and for the rest of the track - and with the long straight, you need good traction and a good front end."
Wolfgang Kaufmann - nr 16 Wieth Ferrari 550 Maranello : "It's going well; we have had some small problems with the traction, but it seems OK. The engine is running well. The team tested at Le Mans with Dunlop, and it went well; the car is handling much better now. It is good to have Tony Ring in the car - he knows the track and he is used to driving Ferrari cars, although this is his first time in a Maranello. But I am quite confident for us in the race."
Fabrizio Gollin - nr 22 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello : "We have been testing new aerodynamics at the front and testing two types of tyres for grip. It is difficult for us drivers to feel the difference the restrictor makes, because we have not been in the car for so long. But the computer is able to see the difference. But the penalty weight is beginning to feel quite normal."
Matteo Bobbi - nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello : "It's going very well; we were fastest in the morning, and third in the afternoon. The new restrictors are not so good on the long straight, but we have tried to find a good race set-up, as this is a really important race for us. We need to get Championship points after failing to score at Spa. We have a lead of 12 points, but it is not enough. This is my first time here, and I think it is a nice circuit and fun to drive."
Andrea Bertolini - nr 52 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena : "We have been testing a new sequential gearbox, which has gone well. I think it is very important for here, with the long straight and the corners, as it is much better for handling. I finished second here last year, but today the circuit seems totally different in the sunshine. For me, it seems that we are much closer to the Porsche cars at this track than we were last year. The Championship is very competitive and close in the N-GT class, and I think we will have more spectacular races this year. The level of the drivers and teams between Freisinger, EMKA, Team Maranello Concessionaires and us is very high, and we have some very good fights in the races. With such competition, a good result is extremely satisfying."
Jamie Davies - nr 88 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 360 Modena : "We have been working through the car, gradually going through the set up, and towards the end I just hooked up a good lap. I am sure it would be possible to do a few more so I am reasonably happy for the weekend. Hopefully we can put together three hours of good laps - we'll see on Sunday. This is my first time in Sweden, and I like it. The track is quite different, and requires quite a different set-up."
Stéphane Daoudi - nr 99 RWS Yukos Porsche 996 GT3-RS : "We are suffering from a general lack of grip, but there are a few things we can try. I was second in the N-GT Superpole here last year, and it's a circuit I like. The banked corners are great fun !"