ETCC: Eurosport Super Racing January news

ETCC: Eurosport Super Racing January news
Jan 19, 2002, 5:39 PM

The second season of the Eurosport Super Racing weekends will start at Magny Cours, France on April 21st 2002. The FIA GT Championship and the FIA European Touring Car Championship will be joined by the Renault Formula 2000 Eurocup, the Renault ...

The second season of the Eurosport Super Racing weekends will start at Magny Cours, France on April 21st 2002. The FIA GT Championship and the FIA European Touring Car Championship will be joined by the Renault Formula 2000 Eurocup, the Renault Clio V6 Trophy and the Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy. The season will consist of ten events, including the FIA GT Championship’s flagship, the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, which becomes part of the Eurosport Super Racing Weekends for the first time.

The FIA GT Championship will be entering its sixth season when the teams and drivers gather at the French track of Magny Cours on April 21st.

A minor, but significant, change has been made to the Superpole qualifying system for 2002.

The cars will be divided into three groups after the first qualifying session. Group A will consist of the six fastest GT cars. Group B will be for the top six N-GT cars. Group C will be for all the remaining cars. Groups A and B will go on to the Superpole session, where the relative grid positions, set during the first qualifying practice session, will be redistributed within each group. Group C will qualify in the second 15-minute session as before.

Another change to the 2002 season will mean that penalty weights will only be awarded to the top three in each category. The race winner will receive 40 kg, with 30 and 20 kg for the second and third placed cars and drivers respectively. The N-GT podium finishers would receive half these amounts. The fourth-placed teams would not receive a penalty. Penalty weight will be deducted from the rest of the cars, with the fifth placed car losing 20 kg, sixth 30 kg and seventh and onwards 40 kg. The maximum penalty weights remain 100 kg in GT and 50 kg in N-GT.

Handicap weight will also be awarded to cars joining the Championship during the course of the season, with 20 kg for cars joining from the third race ; building up to 60kg from race six onwards. Once again, the amounts are halved for N-GT cars.

No penalty weights will be carried for the now-obligatory Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, but penalties will be awarded according to the results after six and twelve hours, as well as to the three top finishers.

British team Brookspeed is planning to enter a Chrysler Viper GTS-R in the 2002 FIA GT Championship. The team has previously raced in the British GT Championship and in a number of international events.“ The team is now four years old,” team owner Martin Braybrook explained,“ and we felt that we would like to do a full season in a European Championship. We realize how competitive it is, but we will have a go.” One driver has already been confirmed, the young Finn Kari Mäenpää, with the other driver yet to be named.

Carsport Holland is currently working on the team’s two Chrysler Vipers, in order to get them ready for the new season. They are planning to do the Sebring 12 hour-event in March, to further test their new Pirelli tyres and to check the car out before the FIA GT season starts. There has also been a driver change for the second car. “ De Simone has cancelled for the second car, so we are looking for another driver. However, there is a lot of interest, so I am certain we will find someone fast and professional,” Mike Hezemans said.

“I can confirm that we will have two cars in the Championship, and that two of our drivers will be Jamie Campbell-Walter and Nicolaus Springer, but as yet that is all I can say.” Laurence Pearce will be taking up the challenge to try and regain the titles he won in 2000.“ I would really like to see Nicolaus Springer win the FIA GT Championship. I don’t see why it could not be done. I think we proved at the Nürburgring and Estoril that with one driver only doing a few laps, you can still get a good result.” Pearce is looking at possible drivers for his other seats.“ The most important factor for me, is that it has to be someone I can get on with, someone willing to work our way. Getting up to speed is more a question of testing and working hard– fitting in with the team is much more important.”

Belgian team PSI Motorsport, who entered a Porsche 996 Turbo in selected rounds of the 2001 Championship, is planning to enter two cars in the 2002 season.“ We are building two new Porsche 996 GT2 cars,” team manager Christian Schumacher explained. “ One should be driven by the same line-up as last year, Kurt Mollekens and Stéphane Cohen. The second will be shared by Markus Palttalla, Eric Geboers and Bert Longin.” The previous model of the car made good progress during 2001, and proved to be reliable. “ We have big hopes for the new season,” Schumacher concluded. “ We knew that 2001 would be a year to learn and to evolve, to give us a chance to situate ourselves in relation to the other competitors. We are quietly confident for 2002, and think the cars should go well.” Finnish driver Palttala competed in the FIA European Touring Car Championship last season, driving for GDL Racing in the Super Production Championship. He also drove for PSI in the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, winning the Group 2 class in a Porsche 996 GT3. Belgian drivers Geboers and Longin each drove one race in the GLPK Chrysler Viper last season, while Geboers also shared the PSI Porsche 996 Turbo with Mollekens and Cohen in the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa.

After the 2001 transition year, when the Super Touring and Super Production cars ran in separate Championships, 2002 will see the new Super 2000 cars compete alongside the Super Production cars in one Championship, run over 20 rounds. Each event will comprise two 50-kilometre races, run back-to-back with a 30-minute break between the two races. Teams from Alfa Romeo, Honda, BMW, Volvo and Nissan are due to take part.

The FIA European Touring Car Championship will be open to cars complying with the Super 2000 or Super Production regulations. The Super 2000 cars are defined as those homologated by the FIA in Group N, produced in quantities of at least 2500 identical units and modified by a kit homologated in Super 2000. The cars, with revs limited to 8500 rpm, have wheels of a maximum size of 9” by 17”. Neither four-wheel drive nor sequential gearboxes are allowed. The cars will be more powerful and faster than the Super Production cars, which can be brought up to Super 2000 standards with a kit, but are significantly cheaper than the cars of the Super Touring era. A new aerodynamics kit, along with larger fenders and bigger wheels, should give the cars a distinctive look.

This season, the FIA European Touring Car Championship drivers’ titles will be awarded to the driver, who has scored the highest number of points, while the FIA European Touring Car Champion Manufacturers’ title will be awarded to the Manufacturer which has scored the highest number of points, taking into account all the results obtained by the best two cars classified per Manufacturer. Points for both titles will be awarded for each race at each event using the scale 10– 6– 4– 3– 2 - 1. All the results obtained during the season will count towards the final classification. The grid for the first race will be set according to the 30 minute qualifying session. For the second race, the grid will depend on the results of the first race, with the cars classified between the first and the sixth places in reverse position on the grid, so that the car finishing sixth in race one will be on pole for race two.

Bob Neville, team owner of British team RJN Motorsport, confirmed that Tommy Rustad would be driving for the team in 2002. “ We will be entering two Nissan Primera cars. I feel very comfortable with the new Super 2000 regulations. However, I think this year will be a lot harder. The Alfa Romeo cars will undoubtedly be very fast, and I believe BMW will put in an even bigger effort. But we will do our best.”

Once more, Michelin will be the official tyre supplier for the FIA European Touring Car Championship in 2002. “ The new 17 inch tyres for the Super 2000 have not been totally defined yet,” explained Mathieu Bonardel of Michelin. “ The tyre, which is new for Michelin, will be based on the BF Goodrich tyre used in the British Touring Car Championship. The tyres will be finalised after a test session at Vallelunga in early February, with all the manufacturers.” The rain tyres will also be evolutions of those currently used in the BTCC. The 15” tyres for the Super Production cars remain identical to those of the 2001 season. Bonardel also said that Michelin would be supplying tyres for a number of GT teams in the FIA GT Championship, including Lister and Larbre Competition Chéreau, but not in the N-GT class.

British company Prodrive is currently developing the two Volvo S60 cars that will take part in the FIA European Touring Car Championship in 2002. One of the cars will be driven by Prodrive regular, former British Touring Car Champion, Rickard Rydell, from Sweden. The second driver will be announced shortly. The team is pleased with the progress made so far. “ We are currently testing the car, at Donington and other tracks. It has been a very long program; the car first ran back in August. However, we had to make a number of changes when the Super 2000 regulations were finalised, mainly concerning the gearbox. But it has gone very well, and the car is very quick,” Prodrive spokesman Ben Sayer explained. “ I think the season is going to be pretty tough, especially as some of the other teams have tried and tested cars, whereas we are starting from scratch. But we are quietly confident ; with Rydell we have one of the best drivers we could possibly ask for. He has been with us for two years now, first in the British Touring Car Championship with the Ford program, and then in the FIA GT Championship with the Ferrari. Therefore, he has built up a good relationship with the team and the mechanics, which is also important.” Rickard is looking forward to the new challenge. “ I really like sprint races, with close racing and plenty of overtaking. With the new regulations, no one knows how fast the various manufacturers will be, but I am sure Prodrive will have done a good job. I can’t wait to test against all the other and see how we compare.”


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