Oschersleben: Round eight preview

What a difference a race makes ! The first race back after the long summer break, Anderstorp, had a significant effect on the Championship classifications in all three major series running as part of the LG Super Racing Weekend series. The teams...

What a difference a race makes ! The first race back after the long summer break, Anderstorp, had a significant effect on the Championship classifications in all three major series running as part of the LG Super Racing Weekend series. The teams and drivers of the FIA GT Championship, the FIA European Touring Car Championship and the Formula Renault V6 Eurocup will be heading for Oschersleben, in the north of Germany, next weekend, for the anti-penultimate round of 2003, with everything still to play for.

In the FIA GT Championship, Anderstorp saw Lister Racing finally break the BMS dominance, while EMKA Racing took its second win of the season in N-GT. BMS Scuderia Italia and Freisinger Motorsport kept their points lead, but their rivals are closing in behind.The Motopark in Oschersleben opened in 1997, and the FIA GT Championship was the first international series to race there, in early 1998, returning in 1999 and then again last year. On that occasion, the circuit saw a fantastic race between the BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello and the Lister Storm, with Piccini and Deletraz crossing the line with a lead of only a second ahead of Campbell-Walter. In N-GT, Peter and Wolff won in an Autorlando Porsche, ahead of RWS's Felbermayr Jr and Garcia.

The Oschersleben track is relatively short, tight and twisting, and quite technical. The stadium layout means that it is very good for spectators. However, for the drivers, it can be rather tiring, as there are no long straights, and many corners, giving them no time to relax.

The LG Super Racing Weekend in Oschersleben will also include the Renault Sport Speed Trophy, a single race for the cars from the Renault Sport Clio Trophy and Renault Sport Clio Elf International Cup, with two separate classifications. There will also be two races of the DMSB Formula Renault 2000 Cup.


Jörg Müller is 33 years old, and started his career in single-seaters, winning the Formula 3000 Championship in 1996 and testing for Arrows in Formula One the year after. He moved to Sportscars in 1998, while remaining a Formula One test driver for Sauber, and claimed a number of podium finishes in the FIA GT Championship for Porsche. 1999 brought wins at Sebring for BMW, and he finished 5th overall in the ALMS in 2000 for BMW, winning at Silverstone and Charlotte. In 2001 he moved to the GT category, to drive a BMW M3, remaining with the team in 2002, in the FIA European Touring Car Championship. This marked his return to touring cars for the first time since 1995, when he drove in the German Super Touring Cup. Last year he finished second in the Drivers' classification; with four wins, including the second ETCC race in Oschersleben; he now arrives back at the track as the new Championship leader.

"This is not a high-speed circuit. The top speeds of the ETCC cars are around 200 kmh. Oschersleben has a lot of corners, and some of them are very long. As a result, you are always at the limit and it's very easy to make slight mistakes. As a matter of fact everyone makes mistakes and it's almost impossible to complete a perfect lap. As the straights are not very long, it's impossible to overtake by slipstreaming or outbraking. It is better to concentrate on the guy in front of you and wait for his mistake. One of Oschersleben's most spectacular features is that all the turns may be negotiated following different lines. Therefore it is not difficult to see groups of two or three cars cornering side by side. It's a quite good track for the spectators, as from the hill in the infield is possible to see almost three quarters of the circuit."


BMS Scuderia Italia's run of wins finally came to an end in Sweden, when Lister Racing took a long-awaited first victory of the season. With Jamie Campbell-Walter and Nathan Kinch finishing ahead of the Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7-R of Franz Konrad, Toni Seiler and Walter Lechner Jr, and the second Lister Racing car finishing in third place, the Drivers' Championship has closed up considerably. After Thomas Biagi and Matteo Bobbi's Ferrari 550 Maranello spun out at the start, the two drivers now have a lead of just seven points over Fabrizio Gollin, Luca Cappellari, Lilian Bryner and Enzo Calderari, while Lister Racing's Andrea Piccini is thirteen points behind the leaders. In the Teams Championship, BMS still leads Lister Racing by thirty points, with 54 remaining in play. In N-GT, EMKA Racing's Porsche took its second win of the season, while, with second place, Freisinger Motorsport further extended its lead in both the Teams and Drivers Championships. Stephane Ortelli and Marc Lieb have a lead of 16.5 points over Jamie Davies, while the German team has a lead of 26 points over Team Maranello Concessionaires.

Oschersleben should see the return of both Eurotech Porsche 996 GT3-RS cars, while Jürgen von Gartzen's JVG Racing will also make a welcome return to the Championship, with two Porsche 996 GT3-RS cars, one for Mark Mayall and Ian Khan, the other for frequent GT competitors Horst Felbermayr and Horst Felbermayr Jr. This should bring the field up to 32 cars, with 33 expected for Estoril and 36 for Monza.

Having failed to finish the last two races, the nr 23 Ferrari 550 Maranello will only carry 20 kg in Oschersleben, with the nr 22 car on 55 kg after a fourth-place finish in Sweden. The nr 14 Lister will have 40 kg, with the nr 2 Konrad Saleen on 30 kg and the nr 15 Lister on 20 kg. In N-GT, Freisinger Motorsport's nr 50 still has the maximum penalty weight, 50 kg, while EMKA Racing and MENX will both be on 20 kg, and the nr 99 RWS Yukos Porsche on 35 kg. The nr 88 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari will carry 10 kg after finishing third in Anderstorp.


Italian team BMS Scuderia Italia still has a healthy lead in both the Team and Drivers classifications, after winning the first six rounds of the year. In Anderstorp, for the first time this season, the Ferrari 550 Maranello did not finish on the podium. "It was bad luck for us, but good for the Championship," Thomas Biagi explained. "I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to drive there in the race, but these things happen. Matteo Bobbi and I have already set a record for consecutive wins in our first season. We are quietly confident for Oschersleben; we'll only have 20 kg penalty, and I think the circuit will be good for the car, better than Estoril and Monza, where our smaller restrictors might be more penalising." Biagi is familiar with the circuit, having raced there in Formula 3000 during the same meeting as the first FIA GT Championship race there, in 1998. "I have some good memories, as I started in 19th place on the grid, and finished fourth in the rain, after overtaking Juan Pablo Montoya, among others !"


Lister Racing finally took its first win of the season in Anderstorp, after suffering bad luck while dominating in a number of previous races this year. "It was more of a relief than anything for Laurence, myself and the team," Jamie Campbell-Walter explained. "But for Nathan, it was his first win, so he is over the moon ! It's a good result, and one we should have had a long time ago." Campbell-Walter and Springer finished a strong second in Oschersleben last year, just behind his current team-mate Andrea Piccini, then driving for BMS. "I'm looking forward to Oschersleben," Jamie continued. "It's a good track for us, nearly all corners. I think we'll be OK. The tyres were fantastic in Sweden, and if we can have the same performance for the next race, who knows ? We're on a roll, and hope to continue. It's quite a strange track, with long radius corners, which means it is quite hard to get the car set up correctly. But I'm sure the front-runners will all be up to speed. It's going to be an interesting end to the Championship." David Sterckx is likely to be alongside Andrea Piccini in the nr 15 Lister Storm, after a good performance in Sweden. Piccini is now 13 points behind the leaders.


Konrad Motorsport, which scored its first podium finish in Sweden, will be on home territory for the next race, with Franz Konrad describing the circuit as his second home. All the team is eager to give the Saleen its first FIA GT win. "I know the circuit very well, as I have raced for a number of years in Germany," said Walter Lechner Jr. "We saw in Anderstorp that the car is good in and out of corners, and the Oschersleben corners are similiar, just a bit slower. If we can get the car set up as well as it was in Anderstorp, then I think we really have a good chance of a result."


German team Freisinger Motorsport head for their home race with a good lead in both classifications. The team scored 12 points in Sweden, with a hard-earned second place for the nr 50 Porsche 996 GT3-RS of Stephane Ortelli and Marc Lieb, and a fifth-place finish for the nr 51 car, driven by Bert Longin and Gabriele Gardel. Team Manager Michael Hinterberg was pleased with the team's performance. "I think this reasult was achieved by hard work more than speed, but it is good for the Championship. Oschersleben is not a good Porsche circuit, with no long straights, and lots of corners, and Ferrari were strong there last year. But it's Germany, and it's most probably going to rain - so that could be another story."


With third place in Anderstorp for the nr 88 Ferrari 360 Modena , Jamie Davies moved ahead of JMB Racing's Fabrizio De Simone, as the closest rival to points leaders Ortelli and Lieb. Team Maranello Concessionaires, despite only one car finishing, also maintained second place in the Teams Championships.

"Team Maranello Concessionaires is enjoying a productive year in the FIA GT Championship," team spokesman John Newman explained. " We came to the series having achieved success in British GTs in 2002 and committed to being competitive in our first full year of the European series. After seven rounds, we find ourselves in second place in the Team's Classification behind last year's champions and our driver and recent Le Mans winner, Jamie Davies, is also second behind the leading pair in the Drivers' Championship. However, whilst being competitive is gratifying, our aim is to ensure that we arrive in Oschersleben for round eight fighting fit and ready to challenge for the top step of the podium. Our confidence level is as high as ever and our people are motivated, as always."


The racing version of the Ferrari 575 Maranello was on display this week at the IAA Frankfurt Motor Show, with JMB Racing planning to enter the new car for the last two races of the year. "We had a number of minor problems during the race in Anderstorp, which meant we could not do as well as in free practice or the warm-up," Philipp Peter explained, after the team took one point for eighth place. "But we are definitely progressing. We hope to test the 575 shortly and run it at Estoril and Monza. As for Oschersleben, it is a tight circuit where you need a good-handling car. I'm sure the Saleen and Lister cars will be the favourites. But we will try to be up there, and to really finish a race competitively. We would like to go out on a high point before moving over to the new 575."

In the N-GT Championship, JMB Racing is lying third, with Fabrizio De Simone fourth in the Drivers points. In Anderstorp, the nr 52 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena was competitive all weekend but dropped out of contention after a throttle problem. "We were increasingly competitive, and it could have been our race. I really hope that the car will be as good in Oschersleben," Fabrizio De Simone explained. "The track should suit us, but as it's in Germany, the Porsche cars will be keen to win. In terms of the Championship, we are currently third, but we are a long way behind. But we will do all we can, and go for the wins !"


Oschersleben will be the home round for German team Wieth Racing and its Ferrari 550 Maranello. "The car is now beginning to be really competitive, as could be seen by the lap times in Anderstorp," team manager Florian Hebel explained. "During the first part of the race, Wolfgang had no problems to follow the BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari driven by Fabrizio Gollin, even though he had flat-spotted his tyres due to braking hard to avoid being part of the first-corner crash. His lap times have made us really confident for Oschersleben, which will additionally be our home race, with a lot of important guests." The name of Kaufmann's team-mate for the eighth round will be announced shortly.


During the IAA Frankfurt Motor Show, it was announced that Reiter Engineering would be entering the new Lamborghini car, the Murciélago R-GT, in the Estoril and Monza rounds of the FIA GT Championship. The car, derived from the super sports car, the Lamborghini Murciélago, was developed jointly between Reiter Engineering in Germany and Lamborghini's parent company Audi's sports division, Audi Sport. The car will be tested, and driven at Estoril, by Peter Kox, of the Netherlands, and British driver Oliver Gavin. The duo also drove for Reiter in the final round of the 2001 FIA GT Championship, at the wheel of the Lamborghini Diablo GT, giving the car its best-ever result with a fine 5th place. "I am obviously very excited to be involved in the first stages of this programme," Kox said . "I have known Hans [Reiter] for many years; he was my engineer when I drove in touring cars with BMW. Ollie and I have also driven together at Estoril before, so it will be fun to team up again for this one-off occasion rather than being against each other as we are in America."


Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Sauber , Reiter Engineering