FREE PRACTICE For round four of the 2003 season of the FIA GT Championship, the teams and drivers have returned to the Czech track of Brno, and to the popular 5.4030 km Masaryk circuit. The Championship has been racing here since 2000, and it...
For round four of the 2003 season of the FIA GT Championship, the teams and drivers have returned to the Czech track of Brno, and to the popular 5.4030 km Masaryk circuit. The Championship has been racing here since 2000, and it has seen some memorable occasions. In 2001, free practice was stopped by snow, whereas last year the circuit saw one of the most exciting FIA GT races ever, when the Lister Storm of Campbell-Walter and Springer took the win after an hour-long nose-to-tail battle with Bouchut, in the Larbre Chrysler Viper, and Gollin in the Carsport Holland Viper. In N-GT, last year Ortelli started his winning streak in the Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS, which was eventually to win him the N-GT Drivers Championship. The driver from Monaco and his team-mate Marc Lieb are still looking for their first win of the season, as is the Lister. The circuit, generally appreciated by all the drivers, has a number of changes of elevation as well as a selection of medium-speed corners and some tricky chicanes.
Although temperatures started off cool, it is a sunny day in Brno, with a light breeze.
After winning the first three rounds, the nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello of Biagi and Bobbi will now have the maximum of 100 kg penalty weight, having gained 20 kg due to winning with 80 kg onboard. The team's nr 22 car, driven by Gollin and Cappellari, will retain 60 kg, like in Pergusa, while the nr 14 Lister Storm has 30 kg and the nr 21 Care Racing Ferrari 20 kg. In N-GT, the nr 61 EMKA Racing Porsche has 20 kg after winning in Pergusa, the nr 52 Ferrari 360 Modena has 15 kg and the nr 75 Eurotech Porsche 10 kg. The nr 88 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 360 Modena car has seen its penalty reduced to 15 kg after a difficult race in Enna. The nr 54 Cirtek Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS, which missed the first session after arriving late, will carry 30 kg penalty weight due to missing the previous round in Pergusa, further to the Sporting Regulations, while the new nr 69 Proton Porsche has 15kg due to joining the Championship in the 4th round.
- 33 cars are due to take part in this fourth round, with 17 in the GT category and 16 in the N-GT category.
- New for this round is the nr 69 Proton Competition Porsche 996 GT3-RS, a brand-new car entered by one of the most faithful GT teams taking part in the Championship. The father and son team of Gerold and Christian Ried have not yet had a chance to drive the car, having received the car on Friday and immediately loaded it into the truck for the Czech Republic. The team's Porsche 911 GT2 is being driven by Italian GT regulars, Mauro Casadei and Moreno Soli, along with Maciez Marcinkiewicz, who drove for Alda Motorsport at Brno last year.
- The International Court of Appeal met in Paris on Wednesday May 21st, in order to examine the appeal on behalf of BMS Scuderia Italia, concerning the exclusion of car 22 from the Enna-Pergusa event. Having heard the explanations of the parties and examined the various documents and other evidence, the Court upheld the decision of the Stewards.
- Due to this decision, the GT points situation is confirmed as follows : Biagi and Bobbi are leading with 30 points, with Fabrizio Gollin and Luca Cappellari joint third with 16 points. In the Team Championship, BMS Scuderia Italia lead with 46 points, 20 points ahead of Lister Racing, with Care Racing in third place with 12 points.
- Vittorio Zoboli, who raced with Wieth Racing during the first three rounds, is not racing this weekend. The nr 16 Ferrari 550 Maranello will be shared by Wolfgang Kaufmann and Niko Wieth. However, the Italian will be back with the German team for the final round in Monza.
First Free Practice Session : Lister and Freisinger fastest
The first free practice session was dominated by the nr 14 and 15 Lister Storm cars, with Jamie Campbell-Walter and Andrea Piccini the only drivers to go beneath the two-minute barrier during the 90 minute session.
Campbell-Walter was fastest, with a time of 1:59.339 set early on, while Piccini improved an hour into the session, lapping 0.450 seconds slower.
Third fastest was the nr 5 Force One Festina Chrysler Viper GTS-R of Hezemans and Kumpen, with the nr 22 BMS Scuderia Italia car setting the fourth time, just one hundredth of a second faster than the Creation Autosportif Lister. Despite only completing one flying lap, Jean-Marc Gounon's time of 2:00.959 placed the Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7-R seventh fastest, only 1.6 seconds behind the leader.
As in GT, the 2002 winner proved fastest in N-GT, with the nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche of Ortelli and Lieb setting the best time, 2:04.530, ahead of local hero Tomas Enge, in the nr 57 MENX Ferrari 360 Modena. The nr 52 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena, of N-GT Championship leaders Bertolini and De Simone, was third, with the nr 89 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari of Turner and Burt fourth. The Pergusa winner, nr 61 EMKA Racing Porsche 996 GT3-RS, failed to complete a lap, due to an engine failure.
Second Free Practice Session : Lister retains lead; TMC goes fastest in
The second 90-minute session was dominated once more by the nr 14 Lister Storm, with Jamie Campbell-Walter improving on his morning time, and setting the fastest lap of the day with a time of 1:58.800. However, he was closely followed by Jean-Marc Gounon in the nr 2 Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7-R, just three tenths of a second behind him. The nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello of Bobbi and Biagi was third fastest, despite carrying 100 kg penalty weight. With the nr 5 Force One Chrysler Viper improving to fourth in the late stages of the race, this meant four different cars in the top four places in GT, separated by two seconds. The nr 15 Lister of Piccini and Deletraz was fifth, with the nr 7 Graham Nash Saleen of Erdos and Newton sixth.
In N-GT, the nr 88 Team Maranello Ferrari 360 Modena set the best time, with a lap of 2:04.691, with the team's second car setting the second-best time. However, the time set by Jamie Davies was a tenth of a second slower than the best time set by the nr 50 Freisinger Porsche in the morning; the Porsche set the third time in the afternoon. The nr 52 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena was fourth, with the nr 61 EMKA Racing setting the fifth time after an engine change. The brand new nr 69 Proton Competition Porsche 996 GT3-RS set its first competitive time, with a lap of 2:12.789, ahead of the nr 54 Cirtek Motorsport car of Mark Mayall and Ian Khan, which arrived late and was scrutineered early in the afternoon. The JMB Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello cars had a difficult start to the weekend, with both suffering engine problems and two changes needed before tomorrow's qualifying session.
NOTES AND QUOTES
Jean-Marc Gounon - nr 2 Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7-R : "I only did one flying lap in the morning, so I think my time of 2:00.959 was excellent. I am really pleased; we spent the session working on the set-up and this afternoon we will have to see how it goes. But I'm already quite happy with the progress."
Anthony Kumpen - nr 5 Force One Festina Chrysler Viper GTS-R : "That was a decent time ! The car is good, and we have some good tyres for this track, another new tyre from Pirelli that we have never used before. Everything is working very well and I think we can have a good time. Last year, we had a lead of over a minute when we stopped, and I had pole the year before that - we're always quick here, although it's not really a Viper track. But the car feels really good, our set-up is already good, and I think we can do well."
Bobby Verdon Roe - nr 6 Creation Autosportif Lister Storm : "It went reasonably well in the morning, although Marco has bruised ribs and is in some discomfort. But this afternoon there was a big gap between us and the Lister Racing cars, which we cannot quite understand. We have a lot of understeer."
Ni Amorim - nr 8 Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7-R : "It's going well, and we hope to go even better in the second session. We're on the right track. The nr 7 car, which was damaged at Pergusa, is also going well from a mechanical and chassis point of view, and the team just has to work on the set-up."
Jamie Campbell-Walter - nr 14 Lister Storm : "This is a good track for us, with lots of corners, short straights and the car is really good. We used one set of tyres per session, and we were quick in both. The rest of the time we were just concentrating on the race set-up. We lost a lot of time in the race in Enna-Pergusa, so we want to choose the right set of tyres for the race. I am confident the car is good for qualifying, for pole or front row, but I am more worried about the race. It will be long and hot, but we really want to get back to our winning ways, and I think this is a good place to do it."
Andrea Piccini - nr 15 Lister Storm : "This morning went well, although I was still not faster than Jamie, but in the afternoon we had a problem with the floor of the car, and could only do a few laps on old tyres. We have a good set-up, but we are still missing some speed compared to Jamie."
Fabrizio Gollin - nr 22 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello : "Everything is going well, and this track is good for all our cars. We have been testing a lot of different things, and I think we will do well in Qualifying tomorrow. Last year I was leading here, in the Chrysler Viper, until I had a fuel pressure problem on the last lap and dropped to third. I really hope that I don't have any more bad luck and that Luca and I can win the race."
Matteo Bobbi - nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello : "I am very happy to be in the top three with 100 kg penalty weight. It's my first time here, which makes me even happier with the results. I think Qualifying will be quite difficult, as the Lister cars are very fast. But I am confident for the race. The circuit is really nice, I love it - it reminds me of Mugello, with up and down sections, and quite fast."
Nr 58 Autopalace Ferrari 360 Modena - the team has changed back to the car used in Barcelona and Magny-Cours after suffering engine cut-outs in Pergusa. The car had problems with the shock absorbers today, which will be changed for tomorrow. "We will try our best - the car is not perfect, but we are still going to try our luck," press officer Sophie Basselar explained.
Christian Ried - nr 69 Proton Competition Porsche 996 GT3-RS : "The car is going well, we just need more laps to get used to it. The car is completely different from the Porsche 911 GT2 - less power, but with much better set-up in the corners. This weekend we are concentrating on getting some laps in, to get used to it, and then for Donington we hope to be competitive. It was our best race last year, in the GT2 car, so we hope to finish in the points again."
Mark Sumpter - nr 74 Team Eurotech Porsche 996 GT3-RS : "This is our first time at the track for all four of us. It's quite good fun, but you are kept busy, as one corner leads into the next. We still have to find the rhythm. We hope to improve in the second session, and to have taken the roll out of the car. Never having been here, we are not sure of the right set-up to adopt, so we've adjusted one car in one direction, the other in a different way, and we hope that by the end of the day we will know the best way to proceed."
Jamie Davies - nr 88 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 360 Modena : "We tried something different this morning, which didn't work. So in the afternoon we went back to the standard set-up and it was much better, so at least we are in the ball park. I am fairly happy with the car. This is my first time at the circuit, which is good fun. It's a nice area, with a good layout."