Magny Cours: Round one preview

LG Super Racing Weekend Round 1 - Magny Cours / France - 19th - 21st April 2002 FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP The first round of the 2002 season of the FIA GT Championship should see a grid of 29 cars line up for the start of the 500km race on...

LG Super Racing Weekend
Round 1 - Magny Cours / France - 19th - 21st April 2002

The first round of the 2002 season of the FIA GT Championship should see a grid of 29 cars line up for the start of the 500km race on Sunday, April 21st. Seventeen cars are expected in the GT category, and twelve in the N-GT. Four different makes of car– Chrysler, Ferrari, Lister and Porsche– will be taking part, with seven different models. The GT class will see another episode in the battle between the Chrysler Viper GTS-R, the Ferrari 550 Maranello and the Lister Storm, joined this year by the new Porsche 996 GT. In N-GT, four Ferrari 360 Modena cars will be facing the more numerous group of Porsche 996 GT3-R cars.


The teams competing in the FIA GT Championship have entered into the final phase of preparation before the pit lane opens for the first practice session at Magny Cours on Friday 19thApril. News follows from some of those teams.


French team Larbre Competition Chéreau ran its two Chrysler Viper GTS-R cars on a test track alongside the Magny Cours circuit last week. "We spent two and a half days testing, including some wet tyre testing for Michelin," explained David Terrien, who was driving the Larbre Competition Chéreau Chrysler Viper GTS-R for the first time. " I found the Viper very pleasant to drive, more precise than I remembered, and very comfortable and well-balanced. We had a few teething problems with the 2002-evolution car, so neither Christophe Bouchut nor I were able to do as many kilometres as we would have liked. However, Magny Cours is a track I know well and like a lot. I won the N-GT race there last year, and I won the Sports Racing World Cup at the track in 2000, which should make up for any lack of pre-season testing. Christophe and I both won FIA GT titles in 2001, and our objective is to keep on winning in 2002." Carl Rosenblad and Vincent Vosse also took part in the test day, driving the car that won the Championship in 2001. "It went very well, and Vincent and I were equally fast, with the same set-up," Carl Rosenblad explained. "I think we should make a really good team. I am really looking forward to returning to international racing after four years in the Swedish Touring Car Championship," Rosenblad continued. "I think I am really going to enjoy it. There should be a good level of competition, and I hope we will be competitive within the team as well. There are no team orders!" Rosenblad last drove at Magny Cours seven years ago, in Formula 3000. "It is a track that requires a great deal of confidence in order to get a really fast lap. You have to be fully committed going into the corners."

A new French team, Force One Racing, will be taking part in the 2002 season of the FIA GT Championship. It will be entering a Ferrari 550 Maranello, to be driven by Philippe Alliot and David Hallyday. The two men won their class in the FFSA French GT Championship in 2001, at the wheel of a Ferrari 360 Modena, and have since decided to set up their own team and move up to the FIA GT Championship. Alliot, a former Formula One driver, who competed in 109 Grands Prix, last drove in the Championship in 2000, with the JMB Competition Ferrari 360 Modena. Hallyday is a successful singer and songwriter, who has been involved in Motorsport since 1989. "We aim to win the FIA GT Championship, thanks to our team of professionals, associated with some of the best engineers from Formula One," they stated before the official launch of the team on Monday 15th April, in Paris.

Italian driver Andrea Piccini has been confirmed as the final driver for the BMS Scuderia Italia team, which is entering two Ferrari 550 Maranello cars in the 2002 season of the FIA GT Championship. Piccini has been competing in the FIA Formula 3000 Championship over the past three seasons, and was a test driver for Minardi last year. "It is difficult to find a way to continue after Formula 3000," the 23-year old driver explained. "I think this is my best chance, as the car is good and the team is one of the best. However, apart from testing a Ferrari 360 Modena, I have never raced a GT car, so I am going to have a lot to learn, to get used to a new kind of car. Unfortunately, we will be getting the cars very late, so there will be no opportunity to test before the first race. But I am confident, and my team-mate, Jean-Denis Deletraz, is very experienced, so he should be able to help me."


German team Freisinger Motorsport has announced its drivers for the 2002 season. Stephane Ortelli, from Monaco, and Portuguese driver Ni Amorim will share one of the two Porsche 996 GT3-R cars the team will enter in the N-GT class. Belgian driver Bert Longin and Frenchman Stéphane Daoudi will be behind the wheel of the second car.

Both Ortelli and Amorim have been taking part in the FIA GT Championship since its first season. Ortelli finished in second place at Helsinki in 1997, at the wheel of a Roock Racing Porche 911 GT1. Last year, driving for Freisinger, he finished seventh in the N-GT classification, after four second-place finishes. "I am very pleased for two reasons," Ortelli explained. "This year I will be able to do every race, as there are no clashes with the Porsche Supercup, and I will be racing with Ni for the full season. This is very good for me as I will be able to race in the best of conditions. I think it will be a very close battle in N-GT, and I am really looking forward to Magny Cours, which is a track that suits me." Amorim drove for Roock Racing in 1998, before moving to Chamberlain Motorsport in 1999, competing at the wheel of a Chrysler Viper GTS-R. Last year, he drove with Ortelli in Austria, finishing in second place. "I am very pleased to have signed for Freisinger for the season. They are a good team, with a lot of experience. I think the Dunlop tyres will be very good; we have done some testing over the winter. I am very optimistic for the coming season, and I think that with Stephane, we should be able to do some good races and aim for the podium. Our objective is the Championship."

Daoudi last raced in the FIA GT Championship in the Zolder round in 2000, driving a MAC Racing Porsche 996 GT3-R. He has also been a regular competitor in the French FFSA GT Championship, winning the Magny Cours round outright, despite running in the less powerful Cup class.

Dutch team System Force continues to prepare for its first season in the FIA GT Championship, when it will enter a Porsche 996 GT3-R for Dutch drivers Peter van Merksteijn and Phil Bastiaans. "We had hoped to organise further testing after Magny Cours, but we had some delays rebuilding our new gearbox," said team manager Gerard Grouve. "We are working hard to get ready for Magny Cours; we are currently in discussions concerning our tyres. As a private team, we are very happy to be taking part in the FIA GT Championship, and we are looking forward to the first race. I think we will learn a lot at Magny Cours, which will help at Silverstone, and by Brno we should be running well."


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Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Andrea Piccini , Ni Amorim , Carl Rosenblad , Vincent Vosse , Stéphane Ortelli , Philippe Alliot , Christophe Bouchut , David Terrien , Peter van Merksteijn , Bert Longin , David Hallyday , Phil Bastiaans
Teams Larbre Competition