SUPPORT EVENTS Three single-make series will race alongside the FIA GT and European Touring Car Championships as part of the 2002 season of the Eurosport Super Racing Weekend series. The Formula Renault 2000 Eurocup will return for a second year,...
Three single-make series will race alongside the FIA GT and European Touring Car Championships as part of the 2002 season of the Eurosport Super Racing Weekend series. The Formula Renault 2000 Eurocup will return for a second year, with the Renault Sport Clio Trophy also joining the series, racing at all the rounds except Brno and Pergusa. The Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy, a single-make series using the Lamborghini Diablo GTR, will run as part of the Eurosport Super Racing Weekend series for six events. The Supertrophy is scheduled to race at Magny Cours, Silverstone, Jarama, Oschersleben, Pergusa and Estoril.
A number of national series will also join the Eurosport Super Racing Weekend program, with the British GT and Formula Three Championships running at Silverstone, and a round of the Volvo S60 Challenge taking place during the Swedish round at Anderstorp. This series is run in Sweden with cars very similar to the S60 that will compete in the FIA European Touring Car Championship, using 2.3-litre turbocharged engines.
TEST DAYS AT MAGNY COURS
A two-day official test for the cars entered for the 2002 season was held on March 26th and 27th at the French track of Magny-Cours, which will also host the first event of the season on April 21st. Fourteen cars from the FIA GT Championship, two cars from the FIA European Touring Car Championship and four cars from the Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy took part. Bright sunshine and dry conditions gave the teams plenty of time to work on their set-up for the first race of the season.
FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP
NEWS FROM THE FIA GT TEAMS
Team Carsport Holland, RWS Motorsport, Team ART, Paul Belmondo Racing, Lister Storm Racing, JMB Competition, Autorlando and System Force Motorsport were all testing at Magny Cours this week. The Lister Storm and the Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R were the fastest cars on the track, both setting times within the 1:34 bracket, two seconds quicker than the best lap time set during the 2001 race. News follows from these teams, and others, which will be taking part in the 2002 FIA GT Championship, the first round of which will be held at Magny Cours on April 21st.
NEW REAR WINGS FOR FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP
A number of the teams taking part in the Magny Cours test have adapted their cars to take advantage of the new rear wings authorised by the Technical Regulations for the 2002 season. Previously the whole of the wing had to be contained within the perimeter of the car, when seen from above. This restriction has now been lifted. The wing, of a maximum width of 2 metres, must not protrude beyond the rearmost point of the car, as seen from above, and must not be higher than the highest point of the roof of the car. "The new wing makes the car more stable and easier to drive, which should be a real advantage during the race," explained Mike Hezemans of Carsport Holland. Lister Storm Racing's Jamie Campbell-Walter agreed : "The new rear wing is more efficient."
TEAM CARSPORT HOLLAND TESTS AT MAGNY COURS
Carsport Holland ran one of its 2002-version Chrysler Viper GTS-R cars at Magny Cours, and was pleased with the progress made during the test days. "The car has undergone a number of changes, including the radiator, a different front splitter and the new rear wing, and we have also tested a lot due to our new Pirelli tyres," Mike Hezemans explained. He will drive the car with 23-year old Belgian driver Anthony Kumpen, who drove a Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper GTS-R in 2001, finishing in third place at Silverstone and Jarama. Kumpen has adapted well to his new team. "The car was really quick, considering that we have not had time to do much work on it since Sebring. There is room for improvement, and we will continue to test, to try to gain more time. However, most of our testing has taken place in cool, fresh conditions, and it could be quite warm when we return here for the first race. I hope we will be fast enough to beat the Lister Storms and other Chrysler Viper GTS-R cars - I am really motivated to do a good job." Luca Cappellari also drove the Chrysler Viper during the test days; his teammate has not yet been confirmed. "Thierry Tassin, who drove for us during the 2001 Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, is likely to join the team," Mike Hezemans said.
SUCCESSFUL FIRST TEST FOR RWS MOTORSPORT
German team RWS Motorsport was extremely pleased with the first test of the Porsche 996 GT2 car it has entered in the GT class of the FIA GT Championship this season. "I did not expect the car to run so well on its first time out," team manager Hans Mühlbauer commented. "We have had no problems whatsoever, and have already been able to start fine-tuning the car." Luca Riccitelli, who finished third in the 2001 N-GT Drivers Classification, was consistently lapping the 4.25 km Magny Cours track in 1:38. "I am really happy with the new car," the Italian driver explained. "It is sharper, more precise, than the N-GT car, and the top speed is higher, especially in the corners. Although we are still lacking power, we are sure we can improve the engine before the first race, and gain at least another second in speed." Riccitelli's teammate, Austrian driver Dieter Quester, was also pleased with the car. "The car looks excellent; if it goes as fast as it looks, then we should be the champions !"
JARIER LOOKS FORWARD TO 2002
Former Formula One driver Jean-Pierre Jarier was testing the ART Chrysler Viper GTS-R at Magny Cours this week, checking the changes which have been made to the car during the winter break. "We have new tyres, a new rear axle, new brakes, new engine inlets, and we need to test them all," 55-year old Jarier explained. "I also need to test myself, as I haven't raced for five months, which is a long time at my age. However, I still enjoy racing, especially in this car, in the FIA GT Championship. It is fun to drive such a big, powerful car, and it makes me feel a lot younger than if I was driving historical cars, like many of my contemporaries. I am looking forward to the new season, and hope that we can achieve some good results." As in 2001, Jarier will drive alongside François Lafon.
PAUL BELMONDO RACING PREPARES FOR THE SEASON
All four Paul Belmondo Racing drivers were present at Magny Cours for the test days, with both the nr 11 and 12 Chrysler Viper GTS-R cars being prepared for the coming season. "We are working steadily on the cars," team owner and driver Paul Belmondo explained. "We had some engine problems on the Duez/Babini car on the first day, which have been solved, and we are now able to work on the set-up." Belgian driver Marc Duez, who has joined the team this season, previously raced for Paul Belmondo Racing at Zolder in 2000, when he was leading the race until the penultimate lap. "Everything is new on the car - a new engine, new transmission - so we have a lot of work to do. But I think Fabio Babini and I will form a very good line-up, and I am very pleased to be here for the season," he said.
EXTENSIVE TESTING PROGRAM FOR LISTER STORM RACING
Lister Storm Racing ran their two Lister Storm cars almost continuously during the two-day Magny Cours test. "We have done more testing over this winter than ever before," Jamie Campbell-Walter explained. "We have run over 4000 kilometres with the Lister Storm, and we have visited three of the first four tracks, which is especially good for my team-mate Nicolaus Springer. We know that the Carsport Holland, Larbre Competition Chéreau and Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Vipers will be fast, but we will be there to pick up the pieces if they have any problems." Bobby Verdon-Roe took advantage of the test to get to know the Magny Cours track. "Neither I nor my team-mate Paul Knapfield have driven here before, so we are getting used to the track, and not really going for a time. I am very pleased to have a full season with Lister Storm Racing."
BMS SCUDERIA ITALIA JOINS THE FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP
Italian team BMS Scuderia Italia will be taking part in the 2002 season of the FIA GT Championship, running two Ferrari 550 Maranello cars. The team previously competed in the Championship in 1997, when they entered a Porsche 911 GT1 for Pier-Luigi Martini and reigning N-GT Champion Christian Pescatori. More recently, the team, based in Brescia, has raced in the FIA Sportscar Championship, claiming both the Team and Drivers titles in 2001. Their drivers for 2002 are likely to include BMS regulars Enzo Calderari and Lilian Bryner, who will be joined by Frédéric Dor in one car, with the second car shared by Jean-Denis Deletraz and former Minardi Formula One test driver Andrea Piccini.
"The cars, which are from Prodrive, will be delivered in the first two weeks of April, so we will not have an opportunity to test before the first race," logistics manager Marco Strepavara explained. "As the team, mechanics and drivers all need to get used to the cars, we will have a steep learning curve at Magny Cours. We hope to build up a good feeling for the cars during the first part of the season, and then to look for podium finishes later on."
JMB COMPETITION TESTS THREE CARS AT MAGNY COURS
Three Ferrari 360 Modena cars were running at Magny Cours, with six of the confirmed drivers for the 2002 season present. "The nr 50 car, which will be driven by Christian Pescatori and Andrea Montermini, is completely new," team manager Benjamin Durand explained. "The nr 51 chassis was the winning car from the 2001 season, and the nr 52 is also a 2001 chassis. We have been working on the set-up and solving some of the minor problems which are only to be expected at this stage of the season." Andrea Montermini, who will be driving alongside reigning N-GT Champion Christian Pescatori in 2002, is looking forward to this new challenge. "This is very new for me, and I am sure Christian will help me a lot. I hope that I will get up to speed as quickly as possible; I am pleased to see that I am already quite close to his times. The car is fast, beautiful, and enjoyable to drive - and it is a Ferrari, which is very important for me, as an Italian. The team is extremely professional and is helping me a lot." Andrea Bertolini, who drove for Art Engineering in 2001, has joined JMB
Competition for 2002, and will drive with Andrea Garbagnati. "I am very pleased," Bertolini said. "I work as a test driver for Ferrari, so I am used to driving the cars all week, but this is the first time I will be racing them at the weekends as well." Garbagnati, who has driven a number of races over the past two seasons of the FIA GT Championship, will be doing the full season for the first time. "I am really looking forward to it," he said. Pietro Gianni, winner of the Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy in 2001, will also be racing for the team, alongside fellow Italian Gian Luca Giraudy. The two remaining drivers will be confirmed shortly.
BERT LONGIN TO RACE FOR FREISINGER MOTORSPORT
Belgian driver Bert Longin has announced that he will be competing for German team Freisinger Motorsport in 2002, taking part in eight of the ten rounds of the FIA GT Championship, at the wheel of one of the team's two Porsche 996 GT3-R cars. Longin won the Belgian Belcar series in 2000. He first drove in the FIA GT Championship at Zolder in 2000, finishing fourth overall with Wolfgang Kaufmann in the Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 911 GT2. Last year, he finished in sixth place in the GT category of the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, with the GLPK Chrysler Viper GTS-R. "My ambitions are to improve my knowledge at this level as much as possible, and hopefully to score Championship points. I know I can count on the experience of the team."
FIRST RUN FOR SYSTEM FORCE MOTORSPORT
Dutch team System Force Motorsport ran their brand-new Porsche 996 GT3-R for the first time during the Magny Cours test days, with drivers Peter van Merksteijn and Phil Bastiaans at the wheel. "This is the first time we have driven the car. As we are a new team, we need to work hard before the first race," team manager Gerard Grouve explained. Bastiaans, who has signed to drive the car for the full season, was satisfied by the end of the first day. "We are learning a lot about the car, and we have made a number of changes - some bad, but some good. I know how competitive this Championship is, and we hope to be running well by the third round. It is nice to get an opportunity to compete at such a high level." Bastiaans has driven in the Dutch Touring Car Championship over the past two seasons. The team will continue testing at Zolder next week.
WOLFF AND PETER TEST FOR AUTORLANDO
Austrian drivers Philipp Peter and Christophe Wolff were at the wheel of the Autorlando Porsche 996 GT3-R during the Magny Cours test days. Peter, who won two races for the Italian N-GT team during the 2001 season, was very pleased with his times. "I think we were the fastest N-GT car on the track today; we were setting lap times in the high 1:40's, which is quite good considering that we do not yet have the proper engine. Wolff was within two seconds of my time, which is looking good for the season." Wolff, an experienced Formula Ford driver who left motorsport entirely for a number of years before returning two seasons ago, was happy with the progress he has made. "I really like the Porsche, and have been trying to improve by comparing myself to Philipp, who is my benchmark." The two drivers hope to race for Autorlando during the coming season; an announcement is due next week.
RUSSIAN DRIVERS HAPPY AFTER MAGNY COURS TEST Russian drivers Nicolaj Fomenko and Alex Vassiliev were present at Magny Cours to try out the RWS Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-R that they will be driving this season. Fomenko and Vassiliev have been driving in the FIA GT Championship since 2000, and previously raced with Freisinger Motorsport. "We made very good progress this afternoon," Fomenko explained on the Tuesday. "We lost three hours this morning due to a gearbox problem, but we are now around six seconds faster than we were at this stage last season. I hope that by tomorrow we will be able to set a time between 1:41 and 1:42. I think we can do a really good job this season."