And so the 2004 season of the LG Super Racing Weekend draws to a close - with a truly exceptional three days of racing. For the very first time in its three-year history, the multi-platform series will stage a flyaway race, outside the European...
And so the 2004 season of the LG Super Racing Weekend draws to a close - with a truly exceptional three days of racing. For the very first time in its three-year history, the multi-platform series will stage a flyaway race, outside the European boundaries, when the LG Super Racing Weekend visits the brand-new Dubai Autodrome, in the United Arab Emirates.
The United Arab Emirates is a constitutional federation of seven emirates; Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Qaiwain, Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah. The federation was formally established on 2 December 1971. It occupies an area of 83,000 sq km along the south-eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. It is surrounded by Qatar to the west, Saudi Arabia to the south and west, and Oman to the north and east. Four-fifths of the UAE is desert, yet it is a country of contrasting landscapes, with sand dunes, oases, mountains and plains. The weather is hot and dry, with temperatures likely to be around 40C and the chance of rain almost nil. The Dubai Autodrome was completed earlier this year; the LG Super Racing Weekend will be the first major international motorsports event held there.
Following the working week in the UAE, where Friday is the day of rest, the race 'weekend' will run from Wednesday to Friday, with short shakedown sessions for the FIA GT cars on the Tuesday and for the FIA ETCC cars on the Wednesday. With the circuit new to all drivers, it should be a very interesting weekend.
Dubai will also see the 2004 Formula Renault V6 Eurocup champion crowned. The title fight is extremely open, with four drivers still with a chance of taking the title. After Christian Montanari and Jaap van Lagen won the Oschersleben races, Mondini is still in the lead, but just two points separate him from early season leader Ryan Sharp. Andrea Belicchi is 35 points beind Mondini, with Jani, twice unlucky in Germany, 42 points behind. With a grand total of 64 points available over a race weekend, and everyone on equal footing due to the new circuit, anything could happen - and most probably will !
With the Formula Renault 2000 Eurocup having come to a successful conclusion in Oschersleben, when Scott Sharp received his trophy, the FIA European Touring Car Championship, the FIA GT Championship and the Formula Renault V6 Eurocup will be joined by the Formula X series in Dubai.
DIFFERENT DAYS, DIFFERENT TIMES
The event will start on Tuesday, with private testing for the Renault V6 cars and a thirty-minute shakedown session for the FIA GT cars. Wednesday will see free practice for the FIA GT as well as free practice and qualifying for the Formula Renault cars, as well as the FIA ETCC shakedown. Thursday will be run according to the usual Saturday schedule, with the FIA ETCC practice and qualifying, the FIA GT qualifying and the Formula Renault Grand Race. Friday's timetable has been rearranged due to the likely temperatures. The Formula Renault Super Sprint race will take place in the morning, with the FIA ETCC races in the early afternoon. The 500-km GT race will take place between 15:00 and 18:00.
DUBAI ACCORDING TO DAVID TERRIEN
David Terrien, 2001 FIA N-GT Champion, with JMB Competition and Christian Pescatori, and runner-up in 2002 with Larbre Competition, is now working at the Dubai Autodrome and has had a good opportunity to get to know the circuit.
"I don't think that anyone knows the circuit better than me. You might expect a circuit in the desert to be flat and uninteresting, but this is anything but ! The track goes up and down and is great fun to drive; there should be plenty of opportunities for overtaking.
Turn 1 is like Paddock Bend at Brands Hatch, although with less change of altitude. This is followed by a fast sequence, right - left - right, in fourth gear, which is very fast. That leads into a very tight hairpin, which is quite complicated to negotiate. Turn 4 is a wide, banked left-hander, taken in 3rd or 4th gear, which could be quite slippery early in the meeting. This leads into the long back straight, over a kilometre long, which goes up and down, slightly like the Donington back straight.
At the end of the straight you have to brake really hard for turn 5, a right-handed corner. Then you are accelerating for turn six, left handed, in 3rd or 4th gear, fast and great fun. You slide from beginning to end, and it goes up and up. By the time you get to turn 7, you have grip and power problems; it is a right-handed corner taken in 2nd or 3rd gear. This is followed by a long downhill section, taken flat out in 6th, which ends in a delicate braking manoeuvre for a left-handed hairpin at the end, slightly banked, which closes at the end. Coming out of the banking, you accelerate towards a complicated right hander, a classic ninety-degree corner. Then you go uphill for the last corner, which is similar to the last right-hander in Barcelona, although slightly slower, taken in 3rd gear. It is a really great circuit, very interesting to drive."
Circuit length : 5394 m
Direction : Exit the Sheikh Zayed highway at interchange 4, turn left and drive for 7 minutes until reaching the Emirates Highway at the Dubai Autodrome Roundabout.
Formula Renault V6 Eurocup Pre-event News:
DUEL IN THE SUN
It would be difficult to picture a more explosive final round ! Only two points separate Giorgio Mondini (EuroInternational), the leader, from second-placed Ryan Sharp (Jenzer Motorsport). The two men have been towards the front since the start of the season, and have each scored three wins. It barely needs saying that all eyes will be on these two boys, who will be under tremendous pressure. Therefore, first and foremost, we will be the witnesses of a formidable dual between these two drivers. It should be thrilling.
BELICCHI AND JANI WATCH AND WAIT
For these two experienced drivers, the 2004 season has been far from easy. It is true that Belicchi (AFC Motorsport) was able to make the most of the situation and win three times, but the latter part of the season has been difficult. He is 35 points behind Mondini. As for Neel Jani -- 42 points from the leader -- even if he still has a mathematical chance of winning the title, he will nevertheless be seen as the unlucky hero of the 2004 season. With four wins and eight pole positions, including four in a row, Neel's statistics look good on paper, but he had a catastrophic start to the season. After six races, his points tally was 11 compared to 127 for Sharp, 89 for Mondini and 78 for Belicchi. But he still believes in his hopes.
GUERRIERI CALLED IN AS REINFORCEMENT
Esteban Guerrieri, one of the best F3000 rookies of the season, along with Doornbos and Jose Maria Lopez, will take part in the final two races of the Formula Renault V6 Eurocup with Cram Competition. The winner of the Formula Renault 2000 Masters will be replacing the Mexican driver Martinez Leon. Will we see an all-Argentine battle in Dubai ? It is a possibility, should Lopez be back in the car he drove in Oschersleben, when he replaced Bruce Lorgere Roux. But for the moment, the team was not able to confirm either the absence of the French driver or the presence of the 2003 Champion.
FORMULA ONE IS SO CLOSE
The winner of the FR V6 Eurocup will receive, not only a Clio Renault Sport V6, but also a test on board the F1 RS 24, with the Renault F1 Team. The driver who finishes second will be awarded a Megane Renault Sport, while the third-placed driver will also receive a Renault Sport car, this time a Clio 2.0 l 16 V. As for the team which wins the Teams classification, EuroInternational (335 points), Victory Eng SpA (310) , DAMS (289) or possibly Jenzer, the prize will be extremely useful : a nine-seater Renault Trafic Combi dCi.