ETCC: LG Super Racing Weekend newsletter 2004-02-13

As the days go by, the 2004 season of the LG Super Racing Weekend is beginning to take shape, with steadily more teams, drivers and cars being announced for the different Championships : the FIA European Touring Car Championship, the FIA GT ...

As the days go by, the 2004 season of the LG Super Racing Weekend is beginning to take shape, with steadily more teams, drivers and cars being announced for the different Championships : the FIA European Touring Car Championship, the FIA GT Championship and the Formula Renault V6 Eurocup. The first event of the season will be the Official Launch on March 4th, in Monza.

2004 Calendar
The Valencia round of the LG Super Racing Weekend series has now been confirmed by the ASN, and will take place at the Ricardo Tormo circuit on April 18th.

TEST DAY & PRESS PRESENTATION
The official launch of the 2004 LG Super Racing Weekend series will take place at Monza, on March 4th. <pre> The provisional time-table is as follows :

Thursday, March 4th - Official Press Day 09.00 - 10.00 FIA GT + FIA ETCC 10.10 - 11.10 FIA GT 11.20 - 12.20 FIA ETCC + European Alfa Challenge 12.30 Official Launch of the 2004 LG Super Racing Weekend 13.00 - 14.00 Renault demonstration laps and Media Laps 14.10 - 15.10 FIA GT + FIA ETCC 15.20 - 16.20 FIA GT 16.30 - 17.30 FIA ETCC + European Alfa Challenge

Friday, March 5th - Official test day 09.00 - 10.00 FIA GT + FIA ETCC 10.10 - 11.10 FIA GT 11.20 - 12.20 FIA ETCC + European Alfa Challenge 13.30 - 14.30 FIA GT + FIA ETCC 14.40 - 16.10 FIA GT 16.20 - 17.50 FIA ETCC + European Alfa Challenge

Test Day News

The launch will take place during a two-day official test, which will be attended by cars of the FIA European Touring Car Championship, the FIA GT Championship and the European Alfa Challenge.

Although the definitive lists have not yet been finalised, Alfa Romeo Autodelta (2 cars), Oregon Team (2 cars, SEAT Sport (2 cars), BMW Team Deutschland (1 Car), Proteam Motorsport (1 Car), BMW Team Italy Spain (2 cars) from the FIA European Touring Car Championship have already confirmed their participation.

As far as the FIA GT Championship is concerned, teams due to take part in the two-day official test include BMS Scuderia Italia, JMB Racing, Konrad Motorsport, Lister Racing, Zwaan's Racing, Freisinger Yukos and Autorlando. There are still a limited number of vacancies for teams wishing to join the day, who should contact Benjamin Franassovici as soon as possible.

FIA-GT

LISTER ANNOUNCES FOURTH DRIVER FOR 2004

Lister Racing announced last week that Toto Wolff will be the fourth member of the 2004 Lister line-up. The Austrian driver will be sharing the Storm with Nathan Kinch. "I had a first test at Valencia last week, which was mainly an opportunity to get used to the car. I really like it - it's a real racing car, and after a couple of laps, I am now very optimistic for the season ahead. I'm looking forward to working with the whole team; Nathan is great, he's intelligent, he has no ego, and he has plenty of experience with the Storm after last season. The season should be interesting - the challenge will be to go fast, but also to be clever in terms of strategy - that's what it's really about."

Wolff has driven in the FIA GT Championship over the past three seasons, but until now has always competed in the N-GT category. His best season was 2002, when he drove for Italian team Autorlando, and finished second at Silverstone with Johnny Mowlem, and won at Oschersleben with Philipp Peter. He did the final three rounds of 2003 with RWS Motorsport.

ERDOS AND NEWTON TEST AT VALENCIA

Tommy Erdos and Mike Newton will be back in a Saleen S7-R for the 2004 season of the FIA GT Championship, this time in a car entered by Ray Mallock Limited. "I am really looking forward to the season," Tommy explained. "RML were involved in the original development of the Saleen, and it is a great boost to the programme to have them looking after the car." Last year was seen as being a learning year for the duo, in terms of the car, the Championship and the tracks. "We learnt hugely in 2003 with Graham Nash Motorsport. We were really up against it, racing a car which was three years old, with very little development. But even so, I think we put in a creditable performance, and I am sure that Mike, now he is confident in the car, will be even better this year. As a pair, I think we will be much more competitive. It is really nice to be able to look forward to the new season, being able to capitalise on all we learnt last year. It should be a more level playing field. We tested in Valencia, mainly to give us an opportunity to learn the circuit. The car is now being totally rebuilt, with a few areas being updated, before the season begins." The team also plans to enter a second car; negotiations are still underway.

MACHANEK RACING TO COMPETE IN 2004

For the first time, a team from Slovakia is planning to enter the full FIA GT season. Machanek Racing will be entering a Porsche 996 GT3-RS car in the N-GT category, to be driven by Slovakian driver Rudolf Machanek, and his Czech co-driver Jaroslav Honzik. Machanek Racing previously competed in the Brno round of the 2002 championship, entering a Porsche 996 GT3 car; on that occasion, Machanek shared the car with Andrej Studenic and Dan Michl; they finished the race in 11th position in their class.

IAN KHAN AIMS FOR N-GT

Although his plans are not definite, Monaco-based British driver Ian Khan is hoping to enter a Porsche 996 GT3-RS in the N-GT category this season. After the sad death of Steve O'Rourke, he bought the car entered by EMKA Racing in 2003, which won the Pergusa and Anderstorp rounds last year. "If all goes to plan, then Tim Sugden and I would share the car. I am sure we would form a strong team," Khan explained. Khan still owns his car from last year, and therefore could run a two-car team should the opportunity arise.

HELLO HANS !

The decision was taken during the meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in April last year, to make the use of the HANS system obligatory in the FIA GT Championship. The Head and Neck Support is designed to restrain a driver's head relative to his torso during an accident, and thereby reduce the potential for injury to the head and neck. This ruling, which came into force on January 1st 2004, should therefore be applied from the test day onwards.

ETCC

INTERNATIONAL COURT OF APPEAL

The International Court of Appeal sat in Paris on February 12th to consider the appeal lodged by the Knac Nationale Autosport Federatie on behalf of Carly Motors, against the decision taken by the Italian National Court of Appeal on 11th December 2003, concerning the collision at the start of the FIA European Touring Car Championship's final round in Monza, on 19th October 2003. Having heard the explanations of both parties, and examined the various documents and other evidence, the Court quashed the decision of the Italian National Court of Appeal, and decided to fine both competitors Carly Motors B.V. and Autodelta $ 25,000 (US) for an infringement to Appendix L, chapter IV and to articles 152 and 153 of the International Sporting Code.

This decision means that Gabriele Tarquini can now finally be named as the FIA European Touring Car Champion 2003.

GIOVANARDI SETS THE PACE IN IMOLA

Thirteen drivers took part in the two-day test at the Italian circuit of Imola, the first time that the S2000 spec-cars had visited that racetrack. Alfa Romeo man Fabrizio Giovanardi was the fastest driver over the two days (1:58.53), with BMW's Jörg Müller close behind him (1:58.74). None of the others managed to break the 1:59. barrier, and five cars were separated by only 0.015 seconds: Antonio García's BMW (1:59.15), Jordi Gené's SEAT (1:59.20), Alessandro Zanardi's BMW (1:59.25), Frank Diefenbacher's SEAT (1:59.26) and Augusto Farfus's Alfa (1:59.30). Luca Rangoni was the fastest independent driver in his Oregon Team Alfa (1:59.49). The test confirmed that both SEAT and Zanardi are closing the gap. The Spanish cars were consistently quick, while the upgraded driving aid system developed by Fadiel and BMW Motorsport, helped Zanardi to focus on performance. The test in Imola was also the first time the Alfa Romeo 156 Gta was seen with its new bodywork.

ETCC PEUGEOT 307 READY FOR TESTING

The Peugeot 307, which will take part in the 2004 FIA European Touring Car Championship, started testing this week in Nogaro. The first car fully complying with the Super 2000 technical specifications was built in the Peugeot Sport Engineering workshop in Slangerup, Denmark. The team has extensive experience in Touring Car competition, having won the Danish Championship during the last five seasons with 306 and 307 cars. According to the team's managing director Jøren Agergaard, the new Peugeot 307 is due to make its ETCC debut on the season's opening round in Monza, with the reigning Danish Touring Car champion and former-F1 star Jan Magnussen at the wheel. A second car, for 2002 Danish Touring Car champion Jason Watt, will be entered from the fourth or fifth meeting.

JAS RETURN TO ETCC WITH NEW HONDA ACCORD

After two years JAS Motorsport return to the FIA European Touring Car Championship with the new Honda Accord 2.0i.The team's last campaign dates back to 2001, when it entered two Honda Accord cars in the FIA European Super Touring Championship. The team has hired 23-year-old driver Alessandro Balzan, who came to the fore in last year's FIA ETCC at the wheel of an independent Alfa Romeo 156, in which he obtained a third position overall in Pergusa. Negotiations have been opened with other drivers for the second car. The new Honda Accord 2.0i will be totally developed by JAS Motorsport, and is due to make its debut in the third meeting, on May 1st in Magny-Cours. However JAS will also take part in the first two meetings, with a Civic Type-R.

GR ASIA AND SIMON HARRISON JOIN THE ETCC

The Hong Kong-based team GR Asia will take part in the 2004 FIA European Touring Car Championship, with a pair of Honda Civic Type-R cars, competing in the Independents Trophy. In recent seasons, GR Asia gained plenty of Touring Car experience, taking part in the British and the Asian championships. Simon Harrison, a 34-year-old from Cambridge who won twice the British National Saloon Championship (in 1994 and 1999) and once the BTCC Production title, is the first driver signed for the FIA ETCC campaign. "To be racing in Europe is a fantastic opportunity, one that I have been working towards for many years," commented Harrison. "'We will not be content to simply go for the Independents Championship, I want to get in amongst the factory cars as often as possible." The team is currently in discussions with a second driver.

OREGON TEAM SIGNS RANGONI, TAVANO AND BARTYAN

After several successful years competing in the Renault Sport trophies, Italy-based Oregon Team have finalised their programme in the FIA European Touring Car Championship. The team will enter three Alfa Romeo 156 Gta cars, which will be entrusted to three Italian drivers: Luca Rangoni (35 from Bologna, 1995 Italian Formula 3 champion and four times a winners of the Renault Sport Clio V6 Trophy from 2000 to 2003), Salvatore Tavano (23 from Siracusa, winner of the 2003 Italian Super Production Championship) and Michele Bartyan (23 from Lodi, a race winner in the 2003 Renault Sport Clio 2-litre European Cup). "We have a lot to learn, but we are here to stay. Ours is a long-term programme, which is starting off in the right way, with three former Autodelta 2003 cars, three good drivers, an experienced technical director in Bruno Chiazzaro, and good support from N.technology," team principal Jerry Canevisio declared.

D'ASTE IN THE ETCC WITH A PROTEAM BMW 320i

Stefano D'Aste will take part in the 2004 FIA European Touring Car Championship, at the wheel of a BMW 320i run by Proteam Motorsport. The German car, which belonged to Ravaglia Motorsport, is that which was used by Fabrizio Giovanardi in the 2003 FIA ETCC. Last season, Proteam Motorsport and D'Aste successfully competed in the Renault Sport Clio Trophy, in which the Italian driver finished as runner-up to his fellow countryman Luca Rangoni. In recent days D'Aste had his first tests with his new car, running at Adria and Imola.

FR V6 Europe

CALENDAR

The FR V6 Eurocup will race during nine of the ten LG Super Racing Weekend events, with two races taking place during each event. They will miss round 4, at the German circuit of Hockenheim; this race will be replaced by a single race taking place during the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix.

For the final race in Dubai, only the twenty top drivers in the overall classification will be allowed to take part. All drivers classified from 21st position onwards, will be listed as substitutes, and will be allowed to participate in the event should one of the top twenty drivers withdraw, in the order of the classfication.

BRIGHT FUTURES AHEAD

The leading three drivers from the 2003 FR V6 Eurocup have very different futures ahead of them. The winner, José Maria Lopez, will be attending the offial F3000 test session in Jerez next week. Neel Jani, who finished second, has worked hard with the Sauber Formula One team this winter, helping Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella to develop the car. Kosuke Matsuura, third, has moved to the United States of America, and is aiming to get a contract in Indy Racing Lights.

A GOOD SHOW IN MONZA

For the official launch of the 2004 LG Super Racing Weekend series, which will take place in Monza on March 4th, Renault will be performing some demonstration laps. FR V6 Development Driver Emmanuel Clérico, will be present to show off the car. At the same time, Jonathan Cochet will drive an FR 2000 with the 2004 evolutions. The twin-seater FR 2000 car will also be present, to give track laps to members of the press.

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About this article
Series Formula Renault , Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Fabrizio Giovanardi , Jonathan Cochet , Antonio Garcia , Jan Magnussen , Jorg Muller , Felipe Massa , Emmanuel Clérico , Frank Diefenbacher , Kosuke Matsuura , Augusto Farfus , Jason Watt , Johnny Mowlem , Mike Newton , Neel Jani , Tim Sugden , Ian Khan , Nathan Kinch , Simon Harrison , Jose Maria Lopez , Alessandro Balzan , Gabriele Tarquini , Jordi Gene , Luca Rangoni , Salvatore Tavano , Stefano D'Aste , Steve O'Rourke , Ray Mallock , Rudolf Machanek , Toto Wolff
Teams Sauber , Proteam Motorsport