Oschersleben: Round nine preview

After the more leisurely summer period, the 2004 season of the LG Super Racing Weekend has picked up speed again, and only ten days after the Imola heatwave, the teams will be setting up the paddock at the German circuit of Oschersleben, near ...

After the more leisurely summer period, the 2004 season of the LG Super Racing Weekend has picked up speed again, and only ten days after the Imola heatwave, the teams will be setting up the paddock at the German circuit of Oschersleben, near Magdeburg. With the end of the season approaching fast, the title fights are closing up, and a weekend of exciting racing should be on the cards. The first two titles were awarded in Imola, with BMS Scuderia Italia claiming the GT Teams title for the second year in a row, while young American Scott Speed won the Formula Renault 2000 Eurocup title, just in time to celebrate at his team's home circuit. Oschersleben has become a regular event on the LG Super Racing Weekend calendar since 2002. The circuit, which was opened in late 1997, is technical, tight and winding, and is generally popular with the teams.

Last year, the BMS Scuderia Italia's Championship-winning duo Bobbi and Biagi took their sixth win of the season at Oschersleben, while De Simone and Bertolini dominated the N-GT category in their JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena. This year, three of those drivers will be back in action; Bobbi will be hoping to close up to his team-mates Gollin and Cappellari, who have led the Championship since the first round of the season in Monza. As for De Simone and Bertolini, they are both driving for AF Corse, and although ineligible for Championship points, will be hoping for another good result in the magnificent Maserati MC12. The Vitaphone Saleen, dominant in Imola, will be hoping to repeat that feat in front of a home crowd, while the Ferrari 575 M Maranello cars of JMB Racing and GPC Giesse will be surely hoping to fight for the lead as they did back in Hockenheim.This race will also be the second for French team DAMS, entering its brand-new Lamborghini Murcielago cars, and hoping to prove their potential at a circuit they believe will suit them. In N-GT, the battle for the title continues between two Freisinger Porsche 996 GT3-RS cars : reigning Champion Stephane Ortelli and his team-mate Emmanuel Collard are in the lead in the nr 50 car, but the German duo of Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr will be hoping to close up the gap on home ground.

Oschersleben will also see the final two rounds of the Formula Renault 2000 Eurocup, with new Champion Scott Speed racing 'at home' for his Oschersleben Motopark team, as well as the Mini Cup.

CIRCUIT STARS VS FOOTBALL STARS

An LG Super Racing Weekend football team will be in action on Thursday evening, playing a friendly match against the Motopark All Stars, a team made up of players from FC Magdeburg, some former national and international stars and people from the Motopark. The match will take place at the Grossalsleben stadium, with the kickoff at 18:00. Two thirty-minute halves will be played. For those interested in watching, shuttles will leave the Motopark from 17:00. The SRW All Stars will include players such as reigning GT Champion Matteo Bobbi, Michael Bartels, Jan Vonka, Alexei Vasiliev, Walter Lechner Jr, Bert Longin, Nicolaj Fomenko, Sascha Maassen, Philipp Peter and Mini Challenge driver Peter Enders.

OSCHERSLEBEN ACCORDING TO BMW TEAM DEUTSCHLAND'S DIRK MULLER

Current leader of the FIA European Touring Car Championship at the wheel of his BMW Team Deutschland BMW 320i, Dirk Muller, 28-year old from Burbak, won both races at Oschersleben in 2002, while on the continental series' first visit to the Motopark.

"This track is quite tighty and twisty, and you don't get top speeds here. It is important to have a good traction out of the long corners; there are five of them that are very similar, the only difference is the way they turn. You have to focus on these corners, trying to keep the speed from their exit throughout the following straights.

You need to have a good car under braking. Normally in the simulation the weight handicap is a factor, however we saw last year that Jorg was on pole despite 30 kg of ballast. On this particular track, if you have a very good balance, the extra weight does not affect the performance very much.

I think we will see two very close races. SEAT will definitely be up there, and I also think that Alfa Romeo will be very strong, because we saw in Imola that they are good in accelerating out of the corners. The qualifying session will be a crucial moment. Even last year it was not easy to find a clear lap; now, with 30 cars on the track, it will be even more difficult."

Circuit length : 3667 m
Location : 30 km southwest of Magdeburg

Eight rounds down and three to go. Twelve hours of racing remains in the 2004 FIA GT Championship, with the Oschersleben, Dubai and Zhuhai rounds finishing off the season. With thirty points remaining to be allocated to the drivers, the Championship fights are still alive in both GT and N-GT categories, but BMS Scuderia Italia already have an unassailable lead in the GT Teams title, while Freisinger Yukos Motorsport is just a few points away from sealing the title in N-GT. 27 cars are due to take part in the Oschersleben race, including the two AF Corse Maserati MC 12, ineligible for points. But with a healthy mix of Porsche, Saleen S7, Ferrari 575, 550 and 360 models, Lamborghini Murcielago, Chrysler Viper and Maserati MC 12, and nine different models from six different manufacturers, an exciting and close race should be guaranteed.

IMOLA N-GT RESULTS REMAIN PROVISIONAL

The results of the N-GT category remain provisional after the Imola winner, the nr 62 GPC Giesse Squadra Corse Ferrari 360 Modena, was excluded from the results after post-race scrutineering. The nr 99 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS inherited the win, ahead of the nr 50 and nr 77 Freisinger Yukos Motorsport Porsches. GPC Giesse has said it intends to appeal the exclusion, but the date has not yet been set for the hearing. This means that should the appeal not take place before Oschersleben, the handicap weights will be calculated according to the original finish, with the nr 62 car ahead of the nr 99 and 50 Freisinger Porsches.

PROVISIONAL HANDICAP WEIGHTS FOR OSCHERSLEBEN

Winning in Imola, the nr 5 Vitaphone Saleen will have 70 kg in Oschersleben; second and third in the points, the nr 2 and 3 Ferrari 550 Maranello cars will remain on 100 kg, while the nr 1 goes down to 25 kg. The nr 11 GPC Ferrari loses 30 kg to put them on 55 kg, while the nr 17 JMB Ferrari loses 40 to return to 30 kg. The nr 19 Ferrari and both DAMS Lamborghini Murcielago will be on 20 kg. The AF Corse Maserati MC 12 gain weights for second and third, and will carry 95 kg and 80 kg respectively.

In N-GT, should the appeal not be heard before the next race, the nr 62 Ferrari will carry 25 kg, as will the nr 77 Porsche. The nr 99 remains on 50 kg, while the nr 50 remains on the 'super-maximum' of 75 kg. Should the nr 99 be confirmed as the Imola winner before round 9, then Maassen and Luhr would also move up to 75 kg.

BMS SCUDERIA ITALIA CLAIM 2004 GT TEAMS TITLE
Just like in 2003, BMS Scuderia Italia secured the GT Teams Championship during the eighth round of the Championship. With the nr 2 Ferrari 550 Maranello claiming points for second place, and the nr 1 car those for fourth, the Italian team now has a score of 123.5 points, 61.5 ahead of second-placed GPC Giesse Squadra Corse. With their four drivers lying in the top four positions in the Drivers' classification, this has been another excellent year for the team. Although claiming less wins that in 2003, the ultimate goal of victory in the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa was achieved, and, so far this season, the two cars have finished in the points on every occasion bar Brno, when the nr 1 car halted close to the end, while in second place. A remarkable achievement. "We are very happy to win the Teams Championship for the second year in a row," Sporting Director Marco Streparava explained. "At the start of the season we thought that the level of the Championship had risen significantly, and as the season progressed, this has proved to be true. The level of the FIA GT is growing round by round, and this gives our title even more significance. Now we must try to keep our concentration as we have to win the Drivers Championship. Our drivers are in a very strong battle, but there is a good atmosphere in the team."

MAASSEN AND LUHR LOOK FORWARD TO HOME RACE
Currently joint third in N-GT, Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr will be racing at home in Oschersleben : two German drivers, in a German car, with a German team. 8.5 points behind the leaders, and provisionally 25 kg lighter, they are still in a good position to take the title fight through to the end of the season. Imola was a surprise (provisional) win for them, as their nr 99 car was badly damaged during Friday's practice sessions. "The team worked so hard, so the result was great for them. But even if the car went well, I think it was the last race for that particular car. It was OK, but not perfect, and so we will most probably have a new chassis for Oschersleben. A new car is always a bit different, you need to adjust it, get it just right. That means more work than normal, and it's not something you want to do every race ! I like the Oschersleben circuit, it is very technical, not that quick, but very hard on cars and drivers alike, especially over a long distance, as you are constantly turning, with no straights to relax on. It hasn't always been good for our car, so we could have a difficult weekend."

VITAPHONE IN FRONT OF HOME FANS
After an excellent performance in Imola, where the Saleen S7 was imperious around the challenging Italian circuit, the German team will be heading for their second home round with 70 kg on board and plenty of fans to cheer them on. "Imola was a very important victory for the team," Michael Bartels explained. "We confirmed that if everything goes right, it is hard to beat us. We are looking forward to Oschersleben. Our dream is to win there, but it would be very good to be on the podium. Uwe and I know the track well, and it is optimal for the car. We have both raced there a lot, so we hope our experience will help us." Both drivers were in the Championship the first time it raced at Oschersleben, in 1998, when Alzen took pole position in a Porsche 911 GT1. "The track in Oschersleben is completely opposite to Imola," Alzen added. " It is very slow and cornered, twisty like a go-kart track. It might not be one of my favourite tracks but I'm still the record-holder of the fastest lap in a GT1 car there. Michael and I are a very good combination of drivers, and we should have plenty of fans there to support us !"

FIGHT CONTINUES FOR SECOND PLACE
The GT Teams title might have been won, but a close battle continues for second place, between the Ferrari 575 M Maranello cars of GPC Giesse Squadra Corse and JMB Racing. Monaco-based team JMB Racing got all its three cars across the line despite the heat and difficult conditions, with Wendlinger and Melo taking points for seventh despite a broken roll-bar part making their nr 17 car very difficult to drive. The nr 11 and 13 GPC Giesse cars came in fifth and sixth in the points, scoring a total of 7 points for the team. The cars will be lighter for Oschersleben, and hopefully the weather will be cooler too. GPC currently has 62 points, 13 ahead of JMB Racing, with the Vitaphone Racing Team a further 11 behind on 38, the leading single-car team.

DAMS TO TEST ON THE BUGATTI CIRCUIT
French team DAMS made their 2004 debut at Imola, with the two orange and black Lamborghini Murcielago. The team will head for the Bugatti circuit at Le Mans next week in order to prepare for the forthcoming Oschersleben round. "Oschersleben should be better than Imola," Andrea Piccini said. "It was very difficult but we got some positive feedback from the race, so now we can push to improve. We will have some things to try in France, and more just before the race. We know we cannot yet fight for the victory, but we should be closer to the rest of the field. Imola is one of the most difficult circuits, so at Oschersleben, with 40 kilos less and cooler conditions, we hope to improve. The Bugatti circuit has some corners similar to those in Germany, so it should help." Piccini and his Swiss team-mate Jean-Denis Deletraz were victorious in Oschersleben in 2002, with a Ferrari 550 Maranello.

HOME ROUND FOR PROTON COMPETITION
Father-and-son team Gerold and Christian Ried are heading for their home round with an impressive record : they have scored points at every round so far this year, and Proton Competition is lying fourth in the Teams classification, just two points below GPC Giesse. "In Oschersleben we will try to finish in the points again," Christian Ried said. "Until now, this season has been very good, and we are looking forward to the race. We will have some guests there to watch us, so we need to do well. After having some problems in Oschersleben last year, we hope it will go better there this year." Polish driver Maciej Marcinkiewicz will be racing with Gerold and Christian at Oschersleben, having raced with them earlier this year, scoring points in Valencia and Brno.

SECOND RACE FOR THE MASERATI MC 12
After a successful race debut in Imola, where the two non-Championship AF Corse Maserati MC 12 cars finished in a fine second and third places in front of the home crowd, the team will be heading for a totally different track, Oschersleben. Andrea Bertolini and Fabrizio De Simone won the N-GT race there together last year in a JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena. "Imola gave me an opportunity to gain more confidence with the car," De Simone explained. "The Maserati is a beautiful car, both to drive and to look at. Imola was a very important event, being the return of Maserati to international competition, and I am proud to have been a part of that - although I would have like to fight until the end for the N-GT title, especially after missing out so narrowly last year. I really have to thank Giampaolo Coppi for his support." With AF Corse, Fabrizio is teamed up with former Formula One star Johnny Herbert, for whom Imola was a first FIA GT experience. "I am very happy with the relationship with Johnny," Fabrizio continued. "He is a big name, with plenty of experience and an impressive career record, so it is very interesting to work with him. But he is a very straight-forward and friendly person, very easy to work with. It was a very good experience and I am really looking forward to Oschersleben. I have good knowledge of the circuit after winning last year and racing there in the FIA ETCC the year before, so it should be a good weekend."

-fia-

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Andrea Piccini , Dirk Müller , Stéphane Ortelli , Sascha Maassen , Lucas Luhr , Michael Bartels , Matteo Bobbi , Scott Speed , Christian Ried , Andrea Bertolini , Bert Longin , Jan Vonka , Philipp Peter , Peter Enders
Teams AF Corse , Proton Competition , DAMS