Oschersleben: Friday practice report

Round eight of the season sees the teams and drivers of the FIA GT Championship in Germany, and the modern Oschersleben circuit, located mid-distance between Hanover and Berlin. The track, which was completed in 1997, has hosted rounds of the ...

Round eight of the season sees the teams and drivers of the FIA GT Championship in Germany, and the modern Oschersleben circuit, located mid-distance between Hanover and Berlin. The track, which was completed in 1997, has hosted rounds of the Championship in 1998, 1999 and 2002. Last year, the race was won by the BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello of Jean-Denis Deletraz and Andrea Piccini, who crossed the line just a second ahead of the Lister Storm of Campbell-Walter and Springer. In N-GT, the Autorlando Porsche 996 GT3-RS of Philipp Peter and Toto Wolff won ahead of the RWS Porsche 996 GT3-RS of Horst Felbermayr Jr and Antonio Garcia.

Since the Spa downpours, the FIA GT Championship has been lucky with the weather, and the sun is shining in Germany, with good weather planned for the whole weekend.

The nr 22 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari is the heaviest in terms of ballast weight, with 55 kg, while the Championship-leading nr 23 car has now only 20 kg after failing to finish the two previous races. The Anderstorp-winning nr 14 Lister Storm will have 40 kg, with the nr 2 Konrad Saleen S7-R on 30 kg and the nr 15 Storm on 20 kg. In N-GT, Freisinger Motorsport is still on the maximum 50 kg, with the nr 99 RWS Yukos car on 35 kg. Both the nr 61 EMKA Racing Porsche, which won in Sweden, and the nr 57 MENX Ferrari have 20 kg, while the nr 88 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari has 10 kg. Among the newcomers, the nr 19 Creation Autosport Lister Storm still has 20 kg, while the two JVG Racing Porsche 996 GT3-RS cars have 30 kg.


- A total of 32 cars are due to take part in this 8th round of the FIA GT Championship, with 17 cars in the GT category and 15 cars in the N-GT category. In GT, this means three Saleen S7-R cars, four Chrysler Viper GTS-R, four Lister Storms and six Ferrari 550 Maranello cars. In N-GT, five Ferrari 550 Modena cars are facing ten Porsche 996 GT3-RS cars.

- David Sterckx is back in the nr 15 Lister Storm with Andrea Piccini, after a fine third-place finish in Anderstorp.

-Tomas Enge has rejoined MENX for this event, having not raced for the team since the Brno. He will share the Ferrari 360 Modena with Robert Pergl.

-Jurgen von Gartzen's team, JVG Racing, has entered two cars in the Oschersleben round. The nr 85 Porsche 996 GT3-RS will be in the hands of British drivers Mark Mayall and Ian Khan. The nr 86 car will be driven by father and son team Horst Felbermayr and Horst Felbermayr Jr -- who finished second in the class last year, along with team owner von Gartzen.

-2002 N-GT race winner Toto Wolff, of Austria, has returned to the FIA GT Championship for the final three races.

-German driver Elmer Grimm, who drove for the team at Spa, will be behind the wheel of the nr 16 Wieth Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello, along with Italian driver Paolo Biglieri. Both will share with regular team member Wolfgang Kaufmann.

Force One and JMB Racing fastest in Germany

The nr 5 Force One Festina Racing Chrysler Viper GTS-R, driven by Mike Hezemans, set the fastest time during the first 90-minute free practice session in Oschersleben. The Dutch driver set a time of 1:25.216 to lead an incredibly close session. The top ten cars set times within one second round the 3.667 km circuit, with the nr 19 Creation Autosportif Lister Storm of Jean-Marc Gounon and Paul Knapfield tenth with a time of 1:26.170. "We used two sets of tyres, which might explain it," Hezemans said. "But the car looks good. This is not a Viper circuit at all, so I am quite amazed by the fastest time. It's looking good for the race. For seven races, we have not even managed to get to our first pit stop -- so it's nice to be quickest !" The Viper was followed by the nr 15 Lister Storm, which had been fastest for much of the session, and then by the two JMB Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello cars, both performing well at this circuit.

In N-GT, the nr 52 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena set the best time, with Andrea Bertolini completing 39 laps of the circuit with a time of 1:28.828. The Ferrari cars were dominant during this session, as the JMB car was followed by both Team Maranello Concessionaire Ferraris, with the nr 88 car of Davies and Turner around three tenths behind JMB. They were followed by a group of Porsche cars, led by the nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS of Ortelli and Lieb.

There were problems for the nr 77 RWS Yukos Porsche 996 GT3-RS, with a broken injector

MENX goes fastest in N-GT, Graham Nash best overall

Tommy Erdos, in the nr 7 Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7-R, set the best time overall this afternoon in the second of the 90 minute free practice session for Sunday's 500 km race. "But free practice doesn't mean anything; we'll have to see tomorrow," team manager Gordon Davies commented. Erdos set a time of 1:25.651, with the nr 15 Lister of Piccini and Sterckx second fastest, only 16 thousandths of a second behind the Saleen, and five hundredths of a second ahead of the nr 2 Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7-R, which set the third time. The afternoon session, with rising temperatures, was slower than the morning, but was still extremely close, with the top seven cars within a second. The Zwaan's Racing Chrysler Viper was an excellent sixth fastest, after suffering problems in the morning.

N-GT was equally close. It was dominated by the Ferrari cars this afternoon, led by the nr 57 MENX Ferrari 360 Modena of Tomas Enge and Robert Pergl. Enge's time of 1:29.084 was only five thousandths of a second ahead of the nr 52 JMB Ferrari, fastest in the morning, with the nr 89 Team Maranello Concessionaires car of Mullen and Burt a further 14 thousandths behind. The best of the Porsche cars was the nr 61 EMKA Racing Porsche 996 GT3-RS of Sugden and Collard, with Freisinger Motorsport's nr 50 Porsche 996 GT3-RS fifth, with Stephane Ortelli at the wheel.


Walter Lechner Jr -- nr 2 Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7-R : "Franz started the session, then Toni did a long stint, during which time he reported that there was a problem with the power steering. Then I took over for the last fifteen minutes. We still need to work on the car and to improve, as it is not an easy circuit to set the car up for. We'll have to see later on. I am very familiar with the circuit, but I have to adapt my driving style for this car, as it is so much bigger than the single-seaters I am used to at this circuit. I still need some more laps."

Mike Hezemans -- nr 5 Force One Festina Chrysler Viper GTS-R : "It was a good time, but I used two sets of tyres, which could explain it. I think the car is working well, especially as this is not a Viper circuit at all. So I'm quite amazed. It's looking good for the race. Hopefully this time we will manage to finish -- we've done seven races without even getting to the first pit stop. So it was nice to be quickest for once."

Tommy Erdos -- nr 7 Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7-R : "It's another steep learning curve for us, but we had a trouble-free run in the morning. I like the circuit, it is good fun. But it is tight, and I think that traffic is going to be a big issue, more than any of the other circuits we have been too, due to the lack of straights."

Ni Amorim -- nr 8 Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7-R : "That was a good session; the car is well balanced, and if we do not have any mechanical problems this weekend I think we can finish well. The year has been difficult; we had transmission failure at Anderstorp, and could not even start in Donington. Fifth at Magny Cours has been our best so far. Here, I think that we can get a good result if everything goes well.

Philipp Peter -- nr 9 JMB Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello : "That was pretty good, but it could have been better, as I had traffic on my second set of fast laps. The car seems pretty reliable; we were mainly working to decide which compound to run, working in close collaboration with the nr 10 car. Pirelli has made good progress, and we are working hard too. It was good to have both cars up at the top at last -- I hope we can have the same sort of result at the end of the race on Sunday."

Laurence Pearce -- Team Manager, Lister Racing : "We used today as a test bed for the new engine in the nr 14 car, but we decided not to run it in the race, and spent the afternoon changing back to the standard engine for qualifying tomorrow."

Andrea Piccini -- nr 15 Lister Storm : "The time was OK, and the car is quite good. I did not do many laps, in order to let David (Sterckx) to get used to the circuit. We were fastest for most of the morning session, until the Viper went fastest. I think the Pirelli cars are all going well, but we know that our Dunlop tyres are going to be good for the race."

Florian Hebel -- Team Manager, nr 16 Wieth Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello : "We had a little problem with the steering to sort out, but the new drivers are going well. Paolo Biglieri only did seven laps, but he was already only two seconds behind Wolfgang Kaufmann's time, despite this being his first time at the circuit."

Luca Cappellari -- nr 22 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello : "The car is going well, we were testing different set-up possibilities for the race. I like the circuit, but it could be a difficult race if it is as hot on Sunday as it has been today."

Thomas Biagi -- nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello : "I will be qualifying the car this weekend, and I will also start and finish the race. I was happy with the car this morning, it was consistent and handled well. I am quite confident. We only have 20 kg penalty weight left, but we do have smaller restrictors. That will not be a big problem here, but it will be more difficult at the last two races. After Anderstorp, the Championship is quite close, but I am relaxed, looking at the situation race by race, and we 'll see what happens."

Robert Pergl -- nr 57 MENX Ferrari 360 Modena : "Of course, Tomas (Enge) set the time; he has done most of the driving today. He set up the car in the first session, then I took over. But we had a cam shaft problem, so I did not drive. This afternoon we tried a different set-up, and new tyres, and I tried to learn the track. It is not our favourite kind of track, as we both prefer faster circuits. I think here, the driver matters more than the car. But we are quite happy with the car and the fastest N-GT time. We'll have to see what happens tomorrow--"

Stephane Ortelli -- nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS : " Once again, we were not so quick, but although we were 5th this afternoon, we are closer than we were in Anderstorp in pure times. We worked on the car for the race, and I am sure that we will have a good car for Sunday, if not for qualifying. I am feeling much happier than I was in Anderstorp, as the car is responding well, despite the 50 kg of ballast, and I am happy with the handling. We also have new rear tyres from Dunlop, which is the response we needed from them."

Christian Ried -- nr 69 Proton Competition Porsche 996 GT3-RS : "The car was OK, although it was a little slippery on the track. I like the circuit, it' s a lot of fun, especially the very fast third-gear corner, the Triple. That corner is really perfect. We finished 8th in Anderstorp, and I would really like to be in the points here."

Nikolaj Fomenko -- nr 77 RWS Yukos : "We had a broken injector after just one lap. But I hope it will all be OK for the second session."

Tim Mullen -- nr 89 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 360 Modena : "The session has not gone too badly; we did some long race runs, and were still third fastest. But it could be better. I really like the track, it's good fun and you are busy all the time."

Jamie Davies -- nr 88 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 360 Modena : "We have been working through our problems, trying different tyre compounds and getting an idea for the race. We are not yet happy with the handling of the car but that should change for tomorrow. I drove here in Formula 3000 in 1998, and finished on the podium after starting from the back."


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Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Andrea Piccini , Tomas Enge , Antonio Garcia , Jamie Davies , Ni Amorim , Stéphane Ortelli , Mark Mayall , Jean-Denis Deletraz , Mike Hezemans , Wolfgang Kaufmann , Christian Ried , Jean-Marc Gounon , Ian Khan , Andrea Bertolini , Tim Mullen , Thomas Biagi , David Sterckx , Luca Cappellari , Paul Knapfield , Robert Pergl , Jurgen von Gartzen , Toto Wolff , Philipp Peter
Teams Proton Competition