Pre-season newsletter 2005-01-30

GNM ANNOUNCES 2005 PROGRAMME British team Graham Nash Motorsport has announced their 2005 plans, which include entering two Saleen S7 cars in the FIA GT Championship. The team also announced during the Autosport Show that their lead driver for...


British team Graham Nash Motorsport has announced their 2005 plans, which include entering two Saleen S7 cars in the FIA GT Championship. The team also announced during the Autosport Show that their lead driver for 2005 would once again be Italian Paolo Ruberti. After a successful first year in GT racing in 2004, when he was regularly among the fastest drivers in his class, he should be a real contender in 2005. His co-driver will be announced shortly, as will the drivers for the second car. A Porsche 996 GT3 RS, seen at a number of rounds in 2004, is also likely to compete in selected rounds in 2005. "We are delighted to re-sign Paolo," team Principal Graham Nash explained. "He is undoubtedly one of the best GT drivers in the world right now, and he will be a huge asset to our team this year. We have a very strong working relationship, and are delighted to retain his services."

The team has also secured a full-factory supported tyre deal with Pirelli for the season for all of the team's racing activities. "We are delighted to have agreed a collaboration with GNM," Paul Hembery, Director of Pirelli Pneumatici said. "The Saleen is a strong contender in GT racing, and together with the experienced GNM team and excellent driver line-up, we anticipate a successful and victorious season."


The annual Autosport Show, held at the NEC in Birmingham, is one of the most important motorshows devoted entirely to racing!

For the first time, the SRO Motorsports Group, promoter of the FIA GT Championship, British F3 and GT Championships, the FFSA Super Serie and the Supercar Rally, had a stand at the Autosport Show, the premier show devoted entirely to motorsport. Seven cars were displayed on the stand, which was located in a prime spot right next to the main stage. These included a DAMS Lamborghini Murcielago, a Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7, a Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari Modena and a JWR Porsche 996 GT3 RS, as well as two Formula 3 cars and a Ferrari Enzo from the Supercar Rally.The event proved to be a great success for all concerned., and a number of announcements took place, including the Lister 2005 line-up (see next page) and the GNM plans.


Just two months after the successful Zhuhai round of the 2004 FIA GT Championship, which closed the season, Stephane Ratel, promoter of the Championship, was back in Zhuhai for a press conference and a signing ceremony for the 2005 event, which will be held at the Zhuhai International Circuit between October 21st and 23rd 2005.

Zhuhai vice mayor Ms. Den Qiong Fang, ZIC general manager Mr. Joe Lim and Stephane Ratel all made speeches at the press conference, which took place at the circuit. Over 100 journalists were in attendance.

"All the race officials, teams and drivers were very happy with the circuit. They were happy to be here last year, it was a great way to end the season." Ratel said. "The best proof of the success of that event is that, just two months later, the Championship and Event promoters are back here to sign a new agreement, for a further round, to be held later this year."

Ten years ago, I was the first man to introduce international motorsport to Zhuhai, I am glad that ten years on I am still here. I hope that I will still be here in another ten years time and by then, who knows, maybe we'll have a Chinese team winning the championship." Mr. Ratel added. ZIC President Dato' Lim Hock San said, "The success of the FIA GT Championship last year gave the staff at ZIC great encouragement. Not only did the event promote Zhuhai to the world, it also strengthened the organization and management of the circuit.

We hope to present the 2005 FIA GT Championship - China Round perfectly to the local and overseas fans." Ms. Den Qiong Fang promised to provide all the support necessary from the seaside city. She explained that the staging of the world-class event had helped Zhuhai to gain more exposure in the international community and helped in the promotion of tourism to Zhuhai. Mr. Joe Lim was understandably enthusiastic about the exciting prospects the championship brings to the circuit. The 2004 event attracted massive media coverage in China - including the Hong Kong and Macau SARs - and internationally. He believes the return of the championship in 2005 will generate even greater interest in ZIC once again.

During the signing ceremony, ZIC President Dato' Lim Hock San signed the promotional contract with Mr. Ratel; ZIC Director of the Board Mr. Wang Gang Bo signed the race contract with FASC vicechairman Chen Xue Zong, therefore formally appointing ZIC to be the host and promoter of the 2005 FIA GT Championship - China Round.


Ian Forbes has joined SRO as Managing Director of SRO Marketing Services. Based in the London SRO office, this new division has been established to realize the commercial potential of the various series that SRO promotes. This entails developing opportunities not just for SRO, but also building the value of involvement for all SRO's partners including teams, sponsors, official suppliers and the media. The focus of the company's presentations will be very marketing and business-case driven, using advanced research from the largest media group in the world to show the value of the exposure delivered, as well as using ground-breaking research to help partners assess the added value of associating their brand with the Championships concerned.

SRO Marketing Services will also provide a full account managing service to major sponsors as they are introduced , working closely to leverage the value of their investment in the Championships through the sponsor's advertising, B2B hospitality, and sales promotion.

After working as Strategy Director or Managing Director with major international advertising agency groups based in Australia, Ian headed up the European Pitch Practice division of the world's leading consultancy focused on making senior executives more successful in winning large multi-million or billion dollar contracts in construction, IT outsourcing, global media deals or securing major events such as the Olympics. Most recently he worked for a leading Formula One Marketing Agency advising both teams and sponsors on how best to realise the value of sponsorship. Ian has followed GT racing, in both its historic and modern forms, for over 25 years. He was at Oschersleben last year, has visited most of the great endurance circuits around the world, and admits to spending 'far too much' money buying GT cars!


During the Autosport Show, Laurence Pearce of Lister Racing announced his line-up for the 2005 season of the FIA GT Championship. After a quiet year in 2004, when the team did not compete in the second half of the season, Lister will be back in 2005. "We will have one car, the new model, previously seen at Hockenheim," Laurence Pearce explained. "It will have the new specification engine, and Dunlop tyres. The car is being prepared at the moment, and will be ready for the tests in March."

The drivers will be Liz Halliday from the United States, a 25-year-old racing driver and equestrienne, who also drove in the 2004 Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, for Autorlando. She will share the Storm with 29-year-old Justin Keen, a British driver who drove for Lister in their sports prototype last year.

Liz has already completed a two-day test with the Storm, both in wet and dry conditions, and Laurence was impressed with her performance. "I think some people are going to be surprised," Laurence said. "She did really well in the Storm, and has plently of will to succeed. And Justin is very good too. They are a very good combination. I am really looking forward to the new season!"

Liz said, 'It's a dream come true to be able to compete in the entire FIA Championship this year. I'm really looking forward to driving for Lister and I will no doubt benefit greatly from Laurence's vast experience."


The change in regulations which allows cars from Group 2 to enter all rounds of the Championship should allow a number of new cars and faces to take to the track. First among them, the Mosler MT 900, which will be entered by Balfe Motorsport in at least five rounds. Shaun Balfe, who raced the car in Spain last year, winning the Spanish GT Championship, will share the car with a familiar face from 2004 : Jamie Derbyshire, who previously drove the Mosler in the 2003 British GT Championship. "Balfe Motorsport are pleased to have Jamie back on board in our Mosler. The team has proved many times that we can win races, but we do not underestimate the challenge of the FIA GT Championship. In fact, it is exactly what we need after winning the Spanish GT Championship last year, and finishing as runners-up in BGT in 2003, with Jamie. Shaun is looking forward to learning the tracks and Jamie is looking to capitalize on his track knowledge, so we hope to be competitive." "It is certainly going to be a tough challenge for us this year," said Balfe. "We have been working towards racing at this level for two seasons, now it is finally time to show that we can compete at the top. The whole team can't wait to get out there and compete against the established FIA teams. I'm really relishing the challenge this season,"

With new circuits to learn, a different organisation and championship regulations to deal with, a reshuffle in the team will also take place, with team supremo David Balfe taking over the running of the squad during the season. The move will mean Shaun is able to fully concentrate on his driving throughout the season.

"I'm really pleased to be getting back into the car with Shaun again," Jamie Derbyshire said. "I know him and the rest of the guys very well and it means I can settle straight into going quickly rather than having to learn from scratch again. The year with the Lister was an important part of the GT learning curve for me. I think we will raise a few eyebrows during the course of the season with a car that none of the other teams have raced against," he added.


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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Stéphane Ratel , Justin Keen , Shaun Balfe , Jamie Derbyshire , Liz Halliday , Paolo Ruberti
Teams DAMS