Jarama: Round four preview

LG Super Racing Weekend Round 4 - Jarama (ESP) 31st May - 2nd June 2002 Less than two weeks after the Czech crowds were treated to a weekend of extraordinary racing at the Masaryk circuit, near Brno, the teams and drivers taking part in the LG...

LG Super Racing Weekend
Round 4 - Jarama (ESP)
31st May - 2nd June 2002

Less than two weeks after the Czech crowds were treated to a weekend of extraordinary racing at the Masaryk circuit, near Brno, the teams and drivers taking part in the LG Super Racing Weekend series will move southwards to the Spanish track of Jarama. The FIA GT and European Touring Car Championships will meet up once more with the Formula Renault Eurocup, the Renault Sport Clio Trophy and the Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy, which did not race in the Czech Republic.

Last year, the penultimate round of the Super Racing Weekend series was held in Spain, with some tense on-track battles taking place as the competition for the titles increased. For 2002, the circuit will host the fourth event, with everything still to play for. After three action-packed and exciting weekends, the scene is set for yet another episode in this fascinating season.

The circuit of Jarama is situated 28 miles to the north of Spain's capital city, Madrid. Surrounded by arid countryside, the 3.858 km track meanders over the hillside, creating a tight and twisting layout, which requires a good set-up for the cars. The circuit previously hosted the Spanish Grand Prix, most recently in 1981, and remains a popular venue for winter testing.

In 2001, the FIA GT Championship Jarama round was won by the Prodrive Allstars Ferrari 550 Maranello, driven by Rickard Rydell and Alain Menu, while the situation grew tense in the N-GT class, with the title contenders, RWS Motorsport and JMB Competition, finishing the race separated by only one point.

This season has seen some thrilling battles, with Lister Storm Racing currently leading the GT category, while JMB Racing heads the N-GT class. In last year's rounds of the FIA European Touring Car Championship, JAS Honda's Gabriele Tarquini closed up on his Alfa Romeo rivals Giovanardi and Larini, winning both races of the Super Touring Championship to set up a final showdown in Estoril. Norwegian driver Tommy Rustad continued his late season domination of the Super Production Championship, winning after an early collision decimated the field, eliminating title contender Duncan Huisman.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION Circuit Length : 3.858 km/ 2.39 miles

On air on Eurosport:
Saturday 1st June 2002 19:00 -- 20:00: Highlights
Sunday 2nd June 2002 15:15 -- 16:15 : FIA European Touring Car

Championship Races -- LIVE 19:00 -- 20:00 : FIA GT Race - highlights
Thursday 6th June 2002

19:00 -- 19:30 : Highlights magazine, repeated on Friday 7th June at 09:30

Other races :
Formula Renault 2000 Eurocup
Renault Sport Clio Trophy
Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy

FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP
The FIA GT race at Brno proved to be one of the closest and most exciting in recent memory, with four cars running nose to tail for lap after lap, fighting for second place. When the leading Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R of Anthony Kumpen and Mike Hezemans lost a wheel, the four-way fight turned into a fight for victory, which was eventually won by Jamie Campbell-Walter, in the Lister Storm, on the very last lap. With their second win of the season, Campbell-Walter and Springer have further extended their Championship lead -- and increased their penalty weight. The N-GT battle was equally fascinating, with Stephane Ortelli's new team-mate, Marc Lieb, in the Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-R, holding off the JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena of Andrea Montermini and Christian Pescatori, to take their first win of the season. JMB Racing continue to lead the N-GT classification, with Autorlando, JVG Racing and Freisinger Motorsport all tied for second place, in what is turning out to be an extremely close season.

GT CHAMPIONSHIP

THRILLING WIN INCREASES LEAD FOR LISTER STORM RACING (1st in GT, 29 points)
"That was good fun; it was very enjoyable to have a real race to the finish line," Jamie Campbell-Walter said after claiming his second win of the season at Brno. "Who would have thought that we would have 23 points out of a possible 30 at this stage of the season ? It's almost unbelievable. Now we are resigned to the fact that we can do well. It was a lucky win -- Hezemans should have won -- but you need a bit of luck now and then. We have got to keep finishing the races, to try to keep our lead until the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa. A lot will hinge on that race. We have got a lot to work for now, with new-found hope in our chances for 2002." Lister Storm Racing tested at Jarama with Dunlop over the winter. "The test went really well, and it was a Dunlop one-two-three in GT last year, so we're quite confident. Nicolaus is doing an excellent job; his task is to keep the car on the track, running within his own limits. He managed that at Brno, when many other professional drivers were spinning off, and that won us the race. He is really enjoying it." The British team has announced that Belgian driver Eric van de Poele will join Campbell-Walter and Springer in the nr 14 Lister Storm for the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa. Van de Poele previously drove the Lister GT1 car at the Sebring and Laguna Seca rounds of the FIA GT Championship in 1997, with Julian Bailey. The third driver for the second car has not yet been announced.

LARBRE COMPETITION CHEREAU IMPROVES TO SECOND (2nd in GT, 19 points)
Larbre Competition Chereau had their best weekend of the season so far at Brno, placing their two Chrysler Viper GTS-R cars in second and fourth place at the finish, to claim nine points and the second place in the GT classification. "We are still trailing Lister by ten points, which is something we need to change," reigning Champion Christophe Bouchut commented. "We are hoping to get a win now. The season often starts slowly, there is usually another car faster than us, but we can catch up. We were very fast at Jarama last year, and set the best lap in the race, so we will try to repeat that this year. There are two or three small things that we need to work on. We have got new Michelin tyres since Silverstone, and we are very pleased with them, but we still have too much rear tyre wear in the race. Michelin has been the clear leader in tyres for a number of years, but Dunlop and Pirelli have made significant progress, and now Michelin are working hard to give us the tools we need to win."

GOLLIN AND CAPPELLARI ON THE PODIUM (3rd in GT, 15 points)
Carsport Holland, based in the Netherlands, came close to winning the Brno round with both of their Chrysler Viper GTS-R cars. However, the nr 3 car of Kumpen and Hezemans lost a wheel while in the front. This left the all-Italian line-up of Gollin and Cappellari in the lead, but ran out of fuel, finally finishing third, for their first podium. "I am not disappointed about what happened in Brno," Gollin explained. "It's true that we had a chance to eat the whole cake and in the end we had only a slice, but Luca Cappellari and I were delighted to see that we can compete for the top positions. At the beginning of the season we have not fixed any goals such as winning or finishing on the podium, because this is a completely new experience for me. I didn't know the car or tracks such as Brno and Jarama, and I was unfamiliar with endurance races." The young Italian has adapted easily to the Chrysler Viper. "However, I still have a lot to learn on the strategy required by this kind of racing. I was used to the single-seater sprint format and now I have to learn how to think in terms of saving the car and tyres rather than working for pure performance. I am really enjoying the season, because I have the opportunity to drive in a competitive car run by a very professional team. I also have a good feeling with Cappellari and I think we are forming a quite efficient pair. I think that with a bit of luck and no mistakes, we will be in a position to achieve good results." As for Anthony Kumpen, he remains optimistic despite the pairing's recent run of bad luck. "We were unlucky in Brno, but we have proved that the potential is there. We hope to finish in Jarama, and to finish at the front. The one beneficial thing is that we will have no penalty weight, while our rivals are accumulating the kilos. Luck might not be on our side, but the car is good. We were disappointed in Brno during qualifying that we could not get a very fast lap from the tyres, but they proved to be much better in the race, which was satisfying. Jarama is a very nice track, with plenty of hills, which will be penalising for those cars with extra weight. It's looking good, and surely our bad luck cant continue. We need to score well to catch up in the classification. It has to happen soon--"

DDO TO DRIVE IN SPAIN
An eighth Chrysler Viper GTS-R will take to the track in Spain, joining those from Larbre Competition Chereau, Carsport Holland, Paul Belmondo Racing and Team Art. Dominique Dupuy will enter his Chrysler Viper GTS-R, which dominated the French GT Championship in 2000 and 2001. The French driver, who finished in 5th place in the 1999 FIA GT Championship for Chrysler Viper Team Oreca, also did a one-off race for Racing Box at the Hungaroring last season. Dupuy will drive the car with Spanish driver Miguel Barbany, with whom he drives in the Spanish GT Championship. They finished in third and fourth place respectively in last weekend's two Jarama rounds.

PSI RETURNS TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
Belgian team PSI Motorsport will be racing at Jarama, with their nr 25 Porsche GT Turbo car. The team, which already took part in the Silverstone round, had a big crash with the car during a recent round of the Belcar Championship at Spa Francorchamps. "The team is still working to prepare the car after the crash; they want to be sure it is 100% ready for Jarama," explained Markus Palttala, from Finland, who will drive the car with Belgian Kurt Mollekens. "Although we didn't finish the race in Silverstone, we were quite happy with our performance. It was my first race for eight months, so I was pleased that my speed was so close to Kurt's . We are really looking forward to Jarama, as we know the car will be more competitive there than it was at Silverstone, with its long straights and high-speed corners. We still need to work a lot on the car, but we know where we must and where we can improve it. The team is working hard every day, and we are making progress. Our aim for Jarama is a top six position, and given our Silverstone performance, I feel it is within reach."

N-GT CHAMPIONSHIP

JMB RACING STILL IN COMMAND (1st in N-GT, 34 points)
French team JMB Racing continues to lead the N-GT class, having scored two wins, a second place and two third places to build up an impressive early-season score. Although Pescatori and Montermini finished second in Brno, the nr 51 Ferrari 360 Modena of Bertolini and Garbagnati failed to finish for the first time, having been involved in an accident, which brought the safety car out. "Twice during the same weekend I had a collision with the same Paul Belmondo Viper," Garbagnati explained. "Once in the free practice, and then again during the race. In the race, I spun, and Lilian Bryner came up and hit me. Paul Belmondo came up to apologize. Besides that, I had started well, and was lapping around 2:09. Bertolini is an excellent team-mate, who sets the car up really well. I am usually a second slower than him, but during Brno, I was within a second of Christian Pescatori for the first ten laps. So I am really happy with my progress, and I think we could have done a great race." The Italian is looking forward to the next race : "Jarama is a nice track, I like it, and I think it will be very good for our car. I hope to do well and get a good result. My expectations have gone up this season -- I used to aim for the top six, but now I'm aiming for the top three ! My first podium has made me more relaxed, but also increased the pressure. But Silverstone was phenomenal, a dream come true. For a gentleman driver, who spends all week at work as I do, to achieve something like that at the weekend with a professional team, is really very good indeed."

FIRST WIN FOR FREISINGER (Joint 2nd in N-GT, 12 points)
Freisinger Motorsport took their first win of the season at Brno, with Marc Lieb and Stephane Ortelli withstanding constant pressure from the nr 50 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena. Now second in the classification, the team is looking forward to the next round. "The team had a test session with Dunlop at Jarama earlier in the year, when they chose the tyres to use this season. They also did a long endurance test, which should be a good help," Ortelli explained. "I am looking forward to seeing how things go. The car is going better and better, but I know Ferrari is working hard too. Basically my feelings are mixed. We did a good job at Brno, and I think the circuit at Jarama will suit us well too, with sweeping, long corners." With Lieb unavailable for Jarama, the team has not yet announced Ortelli's partner. "It will be someone fast," Ortelli explained. " I enjoyed working with Marc, and I can guarantee that we will race together again before the end of the season. It's going to be interesting in Jarama, not only a battle between Porsche and Ferrari, but between Pirelli and Dunlop. The other Porsche teams are also looking strong, especially Jurgen von Gartzen and Philipp Peter."

TWO CARS FOR AUTORLANDO SPORT (Joint 2nd in N-GT, 12 points)
Autorlando Sport, a consistent point-scoring team since the start of the 2002 season, will have two Porsche 996 GT3-R cars on the grid at Jarama. The first car will be in the hands of the usual line-up of Austrians Philipp Peter and Toto Wolff, who finished in third place at Brno. A second car will be entered for Swiss driver Joel Camathias, currently competing in the Euro F3000 Championship, and Italian Luca Rangoni, the man who has dominated the Renault Sport Clio Trophy since 2000. Joel drove a number of races last season, but this will be Rangoni's first race. "We did a one-day test last week to check everything was OK, as the car had not run since Estoril," Camathias said. "It was fantastic, as it has been a long time since I raced the Porsche. I was at Jarama last year, but we did not run for very long during the race. This year, I hope to finish ! Autorlando are doing very well this season, with good drivers in Philipp Peter and Toto Wolff, drivers with lots of experience. For me, it is excellent to be driving with someone like Luca Rangoni, as I have much to learn. I really hope to finish the race to gain more experience. "

MAC RACING RETURN
Italian team Mac Racing, a frequent competitor in the N-GT class of the FIA GT Championship, will enter two Porsche 996 GT3-R cars in the Jarama round. The first will be driven by the Merendino brothers, Francesco and Michele, who already drove for the team in Silverstone. The brothers held a press conference in their native town of Palermo recently, to launch their motorsports programme for this season. They will take part in the FIA GT Championship with Mac Racing, with the support of the Sicicilian tourism, communications and transport office. "Silverstone was not easy for us, as the plan came together at the last minute," Michele Merendino said. "We did not know the track, and had never driven the Porsche 996 GT3-R before. We know the FIA GT Championship is very competitive, and we are eager to get used to the new circuits, the car and the team. For our home race at Pergusa, we would really like to be in the top six !" FIA GT regular Mauro Casadei and Moreno Soli, who drove a GDL Racing BMW 320i in last season's FIA European Super Touring Championship, will share the team's second Porsche 996 GT3-R. "After twenty years as a touring car driver, I am very excited to be driving a fantastic car such as a Porsche 996 GT3-R," Soli said. "I raced at Jarama last year, and I really like the track; it is very tough to find the right compromise between the set-up of the car, the performance and the tyre consumption. I am happy to be taking part in the FIA GT Championship."

CPI RACING TO MAKE FIA GT DEBUT
New team CPI Racing are planning to make their debut in the FIA GT Championship at Jarama, with a Porsche 996 GT3-R. "We have a full programme this season, with the Spanish GT Championship, three rounds of the British GT Championship, and hopefully three rounds of the FIA GT Championship : Jarama, the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, Estoril," team spokesman David Pruett explained. The team's regular driver is Spanish-based Argentinian, Miguel Iavocacci. The second driver is still in negotiation. "The team was newly formed this year, and the personnel, including myself and team-manager Roy Baker, have vast experience. We did a race at Jarama last weekend, with Miguel. Our aim for our first round in the FIA GT Championship is to have a reasonable race, to keep out of trouble, and to finish !"

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Joel Camathias , Christian Pescatori , Eric van de Poele , Julian Bailey , Stéphane Ortelli , Jamie Campbell-Walter , Anthony Kumpen , Mike Hezemans , Christophe Bouchut , Paul Belmondo , Marc Lieb , Mauro Casadei , Michele Merendino , Duncan Huisman , Rickard Rydell , Lilian Bryner , Luca Cappellari , Gabriele Tarquini , Kurt Mollekens , Luca Rangoni , Dominique Dupuy , Markus Palttala , Jurgen von Gartzen , Toto Wolff , Philipp Peter , Alain Menu , Tommy Rustad
Teams Larbre Competition