Silverstone: Round two preview

LG Super Racing Weekend Round 2 - Silverstone Great Britain 2nd - 5th May 2002 Less than two weeks after the successful start to the 2002 season at the French track of Magny Cours, the teams and drivers taking part in the LG Super Racing Weekend...

LG Super Racing Weekend
Round 2 - Silverstone Great Britain
2nd - 5th May 2002

Less than two weeks after the successful start to the 2002 season at the French track of Magny Cours, the teams and drivers taking part in the LG Super Racing Weekend series will be crossing the English Channel for another weekend of competition at Silverstone. Sunny, spring-like weather attracted the crowds to Magny Cours, and over 58,000 watched the inaugural rounds of the 2002 season of the FIA GT Championship, the FIA European Touring Car Championship, the Formula Renault 2000 Eurocup, the Renault Sport Clio Trophy and the Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy. At Silverstone, they will be joined by two leading national series : the British GT and Formula Three Championships. Silverstone is situated approximately 100 km north of London, between Northampton and Milton Keynes. Built on the site of a former airbase, the 5.14 km Grand Prix circuit is therefore relatively flat, with fast, challenging corners and is generally popular with drivers.

The FIA GT Championship has raced at Silverstone every year since its inception, and has usually benefited from both excellent weather and races at the British track. Last year, what looked like a runaway win for Lister Storm Racing turned into victory for the Larbre Competition Chéreau Chrysler Viper GTS-R when the Lister was involved in a collision late in the race. In N-GT, JMB Competition took its second win with the Ferrari 360 Modena. This year, unusually, the three-hour race will be held on Saturday evening, starting at 18:00 and finishing after sunset. This is only the second time an evening race has been run in the context of the Championship, the previous occasion being at the Lausitzring in 2000.


The result of the first round of the FIA GT Championship, which took place at the French track of Magny Cours on April 21st, has been suspended until an appeal is heard concerning the nr 54 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-R. The car, which crossed the line first in the N-GT category, was later excluded from the results due to non-conformity of the fuel-tank. The team have appealed, and a decision is expected in the future. However, the result of the GT teams is not in question, and the first round showed that the performance of the second car in the leading teams could play a vital role in the Teams Championship this season. Team Carsport Holland, whose two Chrysler Viper GTS-R cars finished in second and fourth places, is only one point behind current Championship leaders Lister Storm Racing.


For the third consecutive year, Lister Storm Racing dominated the Magny Cours round of the FIA GT Championship. Except for the morning warm-up, the nr 14 Lister Storm was at the top of every time sheet, and Jamie Campbell-Walter took his first overall pole position since the start of the Superpole single-lap qualifying system. Campbell-Walter and German driver Nicolaus Springer proceeded to claim the win - a career first for Springer. The team's second car, driven by British drivers Bobby Verdon-Roe and Paul Knapfield, was running well before a broken throttle cable ended their race.

"We really did not expect to win," team principal Laurence Pearce admitted. "But the car was fantastic, and it always runs well at Magny Cours, which is a track I really like. We cannot expect that sort of result every time - I think the other teams were asleep, and they will be watching out for us at Silverstone. But if we get some more good results, we will have a go this year. I also intend to really throw myself into the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa. I have some ideas up my sleeve, and intend to push hard at Silverstone !" Jamie Campbell-Walter is looking forward to racing in Britain. "I am not sure we can repeat our Magny Cours feat, but if the car is as good as it was there, you never know. Nicolaus has a new-found confidence after his win, and Silverstone has always been a good track for us. The evening race will be interesting, and it should be good for the cars, as the cooler evening temperatures are kinder on the tyres and brakes."

The two Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R cars finished in second and fourth places at Magny Cours, despite the nr 3 car being awarded a stop and go penalty for overtaking under yellow flags. "Last year, we were incredibly quick at Silverstone," Mike remembered. "We were nearly half a second faster than the rest of the field. Of course, we did not have any penalty weight, but I hope we can find that speed again. I think we should be able to get a good result. The Pirelli tyres are very good; I made a mistake at Magny Cours and chose tyres that were too hard for the last stint. We could have won without the stop and go penalty." The nr 4 Chrysler Viper GTS-R, driven by Luca Cappellari and Fabrizio Gollin, finished in fourth place. This was Cappellari's best result in the Championship, and also won him the Gentlemen Drivers Cup for the GT class.

The French-based team, which won the 2001 FIA GT Championship, placed its two Chrysler Viper GTS-R cars in third and fifth places in the first race. For Silverstone, the team will only enter the nr 1 Chrysler Viper GTS-R. "Bouchut, Terrien and Vosse will all drive the nr 1 car," team manager Jack Leconte explained. "It has not yet been decided whether the car will have the 2002 evolution engine and gearbox. That is being studied at this moment. However, we have to do better than at Magny-Cours." Christophe Bouchut, reigning FIA GT Champion, is looking forward to Silverstone. "It is one of my very favourite tracks; I just hope the weather will be favourable ! In 2001, despite missing the Superpole for the first time, we went on to win. Therefore, I am quietly confident that we can aim for a good podium finish. Lister is on home ground, so the cars are bound to be competitive, and as we are sharing the car between three drivers, it will not be easy. But you must never say never !"

BMS Scuderia Italia scored a point on its return to the FIA GT Championship after a four-year absence, with the nr 23 Ferrari 550 Maranello of Jean-Denis Deletraz and Andrea Piccini finishing in sixth position. The Italian team, which won the FIA Sportscar Championship in 2001, is running two Prodrive-built Ferrari 550 Maranello cars. "It was a very good result for us, after a difficult weekend," logistics manager Marco Strepavara explained. "We received the cars from Prodrive and had a first shakedown on a club track near Magny Cours on the Wednesday. It was a race within a race to try and get ready for Sunday. With both the car and the Championship being new to us, we had a number of problems, but the race went very well." Deletraz and Piccini were lying in fourth place until fifteen minutes before the end, when a warning light in the car forced Deletraz into an extra stop. They lost two places. "We are really satisfied with our performance, and especially with that of Andrea Piccini, who did a great job for his first time in the car. We are very pleased to have a talented young driver like him in the team." BMS Scuderia Italia is now preparing its two cars for Silverstone. "We are trying to work together with Prodrive in the best possible way," Strepavara explained. "They have built the car, and know it 100%. We still have a lot to learn, but we hope to improve rapidly." Swiss driver Jean-Denis Deletraz is very optimistic for Silverstone. "We have very high ambitions for the next race, and we intend to aim for the podium. Despite some small problems, we were extremely fast in the race at Magny Cours, and we hope to be able to fight with the Lister Storm and Chrysler Viper GTS-R cars at Silverstone. Andrea is the perfect team mate; he is very fast, and he does not make mistakes."

Belgian team PSI Motorsport is entering a Porsche 996 GT Turbo car in the second round of the FIA GT Championship. The car will be driven by Kurt Mollekens, from Belgium, and Finnish driver Marcus Palttalla, who drove for the team in the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa. "We are hoping to do three or four rounds of the FIA GT Championship, as well as the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa," Mollekens explained. "A lot of work has been done on the cars over the winter, but not much testing. We will keep on developing and hope to be more competitive in the future. We competed in a round of the Belcar series and finished second, but the level of the FIA GT Championship is higher and we do not expect to as fast as the Chrysler Viper GTS-R cars. Silverstone is not a track that will favour the Porsche; we should be more competitive at Anderstorp or Oschersleben. But it will be an excellent opportunity to see which areas we need to improve."


French team JMB Racing crossed the line in second place at the end of the first three-hour race of the 2002 season, but were promoted to provisional winners after the exclusion of the nr 54 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-R. This gave Christian Pescatori his second consecutive N-GT win at the French track, as well as a first win for his new team-mate, former Formula One and CART driver Andrea Montermini. The team's second car moved up to third place. "It was a dream come true - no-one expected all four cars to finish," explained Andrea Garbagnati, who drove the nr 51 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena with Andrea Bertolini. "The race went much better than we expected, finishing in the points right away. We had a small problem with the gearbox, but the Modena cars proved to be very competitive, and we had no reoccurrence of the engine problems we had during the winter testing." Andrea is looking forward to Silverstone. "Last year I had my best result of the season at Silverstone. I really like the track; it is fast, with the sort of corners where you feel you are on the edge. I think it is very good to have some variety in the Championship , like evening races and the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa." Garbagnati won the Gentleman Drivers Cup in the N-GT category at Magny Cours, as the best-placed amateur driver in the category at the finish.

"I am really happy with our performance at Magny Cours. It was a perfect start to the season," Jürgen von Gartzen explained after the podium finish for the nr 60 Porsche 996 GT3-R at Magny Cours. This was the team's best result in the Championship so far. "We have worked very hard over the winter, upgrading the car, although we still have a number of modifications to do before Brno. As a whole, JVG Racing is in an excellent condition, and the mechanics and engineers form a perfect team. My new co-driver Ian Khan did a very good job, especially considering this was the first time he had driven this car. We are very hopeful for Silverstone, as we both like the track."

JMB Competition is currently in third place in the N-GT Championship, with the nr 52 and 53 Ferrari 360 Modena cars finishing in fourth and sixth places in the first race. "I am really happy with my performance," 26-year old Swiss driver Iradj Alexander explained. "I had not driven since the final race of the 2001 season, in Estoril, and I am glad that I was able to start with such a good feeling. Everything felt good - the car, the track, my physical condition. The team did a good job with the change-overs, and I was able to lead the class for around 10 laps, which was nice. I have never driven in Silverstone before, so that will be new for me, but I am hoping for another good result." Alexander will share the nr 53 Ferrari 360 Modena with Batti Pregliasco and Marco Lambertini at Silverstone, while Gianluca Giraudi and Pietro Gianni remain in the nr 52 car.

British team Sebah Automotive is planning to enter a Porsche 996 GT3-R in the Silverstone round of the FIA GT Championship, which will be driven by father-and-son line-up of Hugh and Bart Heydon. "Sebah Automotive is a small, one-car team," Hugh Heydon explained. "Previously, we raced Caterhams, and having won the Championship in 1997 and 1999, we decided to change categories. Last year, we competed in the European and American Le Mans Series. The idea of endurance racing appeals to me. I enjoy the strategy of the three-hour or even longer races, which involves the whole team in refuelling and driver changes. Sprint races are much more individual. We really wanted to do a British race this year, so we are looking forward to Silverstone."


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Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Andrea Piccini , Fabrizio Gollin , Christian Pescatori , Jamie Campbell-Walter , Jean-Denis Deletraz , Andrea Montermini , Christophe Bouchut , Andrea Garbagnati , Nicolaus Springer , Ian Khan , Andrea Bertolini , Iradj Alexander-David , Luca Cappellari , Paul Knapfield , Batti Pregliasco , Jurgen von Gartzen , Jack Leconte , Gianluca Giraudi
Teams Larbre Competition