Brno: Round five preview

Nearly a month after the previous round in Imola, the teams and drivers taking part in the FIA GT Championship will meet up again in Brno, for the fifth round of the 2005 season, the Matador GT Challenge. The month-long break, after a hectic start...

Nearly a month after the previous round in Imola, the teams and drivers taking part in the FIA GT Championship will meet up again in Brno, for the fifth round of the 2005 season, the Matador GT Challenge. The month-long break, after a hectic start to the season, has nevertheless been far from relaxing from many competitors, taking part in other events such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. However, the season will soon be back in full swing, with Brno followed by the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa. Brno is a wonderful circuit, which usually guarantees a fascinating round of the FIA GT Championship. After the exciting four races so far this season, with four different winners, Brno is the perfect location for another episode in this thrilling year.

Racing alone, while the FIA WTCC heads for Mexico, the FIA GT Championship will be part of an exciting weekend of racing, with a packed timetable at the Czech circuit.

The FIA GT Championship classifications could hardly be closer. Biagi and Babini lead the GT title battle, their exemplary consistency having paid off. But they are only one point ahead of JMB drivers Wendlinger and Bertolini and Larbre Competition's Gabriele Gardel, with Scheider, Bartels and Lamy close behind. In GT2, although the Gruppe M team have a healthy lead, there is a good fight between the two pairs of drivers, Lieb and Rockenfeller seven points ahead of Sugden and Collard. And with two teams from the Czech Republic and two from Slovakia, as well as Russian and Polish teams, the Championship is looking more international than ever before.

Automotodrom Brno @(Brno, Czech Republic) @Current circuit opened in 1987, replacing the historic Masaryk circuit, one of the classic long.-distance tracks

Website : www.automotodrombrno.cz @Circuit length : 5403 m

WHAT THE DRIVERS THINK ...

"Brno is an incredibly pleasant circuit to drive. For me, it's the second reference point of the year. I really like racing at this track, where you can overtake easily. Moreover, the scenery is some of the most interesting of the year. " Christophe Bouchut, Russian Age Racing

"I really like Brno; it's one of my favourite tracks. It is really fast, with many chicanes, and long straights. _What more can I say about it - Wonderful!" Gabriele Gardel, Larbre Competition

"Brno is a very nice circuit, similar to Mugello, wide and with lots of changes of direction, up and down hill. And I won there with Bobbi in 2003, so it's nice to go back." Thomas Biagi, Vitaphone Racing

BABINI AND BIAGI IN FIRST POSITION

2003 Champion Thomas Biagi is back in a familiar position. Since the Imola round, the Italian is leading the Championship, with his Vitaphone Racing team-mate Fabio Babini.

"It's nice to be in the lead, but the Championship is very tough this year, much more than in 2003. Babini and I are only one point ahead of Bertolini, Wendlinger and Gardel; Scheider and Bartels were very unlucky in Imola but they are still close, and then there is the Corvette. It's going to be a very, very long and hard year," Biagi commented. With four third-place finishes, including full points at Silverstone, the nr 10 Maserati MC 12 wil now carry 100 kg for Brno.

"I'm not too worried, as I won with 100 kg in Brno in 2003. But it is hard on the car, especially on the Brno circuit, up hill and down. But we will do our best. We'd really like to get our first real victory, but I think it will be difficult at Brno. Our aim will be to do our best and score as many points as we can. Then it's on to Spa, which will be the key to the whole season."

GRUPPE M LEADS GT2 FIELD

British team Gruppe M has won all four races in the GT2 category so far this season. The score is even so far between the all-German line-up of Marc Lieb and Mike Rockenfeller, and the Franco-British duo of Emmanuel Collard and Tim Sugden. The nr 66 car was victorious in Monza and Silverstone, with the nr 88 winning in Magny- Cours and Imola. This means that the nr 66 now has 50 kg, with the nr 88 on 35. Their rivals in the Czech Republic include Porsches entered by Ebimotors, who finished third in Monza, Autoracing Club Bratislava, Renauer Motorsport and Machanek Racing, as well as the regular competitors of Vonka Racing, racing on home ground, and German team Proton Competition. They will face two Ferrari 360 Modena cars - one entered by JMB Racing, and the other by GPC Sport, which won the 2004 Brno race.

JMB RACING COMPETING IN BOTH CLASSES IN BRNO

JMB Racing, currently lying second in the GT1 Teams classification, will be entering a Ferrari 360 Modena in the GT2 category at Brno. The car will be driven by Peter Kutemann of the Netherlands and Antoine Gosse of France, who shared the car throughout the 2003 season of the Championship. Last year, Kutemann drove a JMB Ferrari 575 M Maranello in the GT category, scoring points alongside Frenchman Stéphane Daoudi.

"Since Brno is our favourite track which is unfortunately not in the LMES programme, Antoine and I are very happy to be able to take part in this FIA-GT race," Peter Kutemann explained. "We both loved the FIA-GT concept with its high level of competition and professional drivers but also for the good atmosphere. This time we will ride the 2004 Ferrari 360-GT and we hope we can give the competition a hard ride for their points! During the 2003 season we had some good fun competing with the Ried Porsche. Also, for me, it is an exciting prospect to be able to participate in the same race, though in GT2, as my valued MC12! Antoine and I hope to score some points in the GT2 category, but the super- professional JMB team will also work hard to win a podium for the MC12's"

The JMB Maserati cars will be driven as usual by Andrea Bertolini and Karl Wendlinger in the nr 15, with Philipp Peter, Chris Buncombe and Roman Rusinov in the nr 16.

-fia-

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Karl Wendlinger , Emmanuel Collard , Christophe Bouchut , Marc Lieb , Tim Sugden , Fabio Babini , Peter Kutemann , Andrea Bertolini , Mike Rockenfeller , Roman Rusinov , Thomas Biagi , Gabriele Gardel , Chris Buncombe , Philipp Peter
Teams Proton Competition , Larbre Competition