ETCC: Brno: Round three preview

LG Super Racing Weekends - Round 3 - Brno (CZE) May 17th - 19th 2002 The third round of the LG Super Racing Weekend series will see the cars and drivers of the FIA GT and European Touring Car Championships travel to the Masaryk circuit in the...

LG Super Racing Weekends - Round 3 - Brno (CZE)
May 17th - 19th 2002

The third round of the LG Super Racing Weekend series will see the cars and drivers of the FIA GT and European Touring Car Championships travel to the Masaryk circuit in the Czech Republic. This historic track is situated 16 km from Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic, and is 200 km to the south-east of the beautiful capital city of Prague.

There has been motor racing at the Masaryk circuit since 1930, when the first race took place on a 30-km track, made up of ordinary roads. The track was shortened over the years, and a new permanent circuit was opened in 1987. With uphill and downhill sections and a good variety of fast and slow corners, the track is generally popular with the drivers. Brno will not only be the scene of the third round of the 2002 FIA GT Championship and the fifth and sixth rounds of the FIA European Touring Car Championship, but will also host the third round of the FIA Sportscar Championship, for an exciting alliance between the dramatic sports prototypes, the exclusive GT sports cars and the door-to-door racing of the touring cars. This is the first time in recent history that three major FIA Championships have raced side by side for one event.

The last time a joint race was held was at Monza in 2000, when the FIA GT Championship and the then-named Sports Racing World Cup each completed 500 km of the legendary 1000 km of Monza. The addition of the FIA European Touring Car Championship makes it a unique occasion to see so many different types of cars in action at one track. The two Renault Sport series and the Lamborghini Supertrophy will be back in action at the fourth round, which will be held at the Spanish track of Jarama, between May 31st and June 2nd.

Brno has always been a traditional circuit for the FIA European Touring Car Championship, and this is the 18th time in its long history that a round will be held there. Last year saw Alfa Romeo dominate the proceedings, with Larini and Giovanardi taking a win each in the FIA European Super Touring Championship, after a collision between Gabriele Tarquini's Honda Accord and Roberto Colciago's Audi A4 Quattro. Currently leading the Championship, having won all four rounds already completed, Gta Racing Team Nordauto will be hoping for a repeat performance. However, it was evident at Silverstone that the BMW and Volvo cars are beginning to close in on the Alfa Romeo 156 Gta cars, with the prospect of some exciting on-track battles in the Czech Republic. Among the BMW drivers still looking for a points finish is Peter Kox, driving for Carly Motors -- Team Isert, who won the Brno round of the FIA European Super Production Championship last year.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

Circuit Length:
5.4032 km/ 3.35 miles

On air on Eurosport:

Saturday 18th May 2002
19:00 -- 20:00: Highlights

Sunday 19th May 2002
15:15 -- 16:15 : FIA European Touring Car Championship Races -- LIVE
19:00 -- 20:00 : FIA GT Race - highlights

FIA EUROPEAN TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP
After the first four rounds of the 2002 European Touring Car Championship, GTA Racing Team Nordauto driver Fabrizio Giovanardi has a substantial lead in the Drivers Classification, ahead of his team-mate Nicola Larini. However, the two races in Silverstone were spectacular and saw some close battles, proving that Volvo and BMW have begun to close on the Alfa Romeo cars, and the picturesque circuit of Brno should see even more progress. In the Michelin Trophy, Nordauto driver Nicola Larini has overtaken his team-mate Fabrizio Giovanardi, having set the fastest lap in Race 2 at Silverstone. Volvo S60 driver Rickard Rydell is third, by virtue of claiming the fastest lap in Race 1.

GIOVANARDI WANTS MORE WINS (1st in the the Drivers Championship, 36 points)
After three wins and a second place, Fabrizio Giovanardi and his Gta Racing Team Nordauto Alfa Romeo 156 Gta have a good lead in the Championship classification. "This seems a bit strange to me, as I have usually started the season badly, and recovered in the second part of the year," Giovanardi explained. "At the moment everything is going well. At Silverstone, I would have liked to outbrake Nicola and claim the win from him, but it was more sensible to settle for second. Overtaking was not easy; both BMW and Volvo have improved, which is good for the Championship, but they were not yet on our pace in Silverstone. At the moment, it seems as if their performances fade slightly mid-race, but that might change soon. The first two events are over, and an engine change is now allowed, so I am prepared to face some surprises. This does not mean I am worried. I rarely am -- and all I want is two more wins."

LARINI AIMS TO LEAD THE CHAMPIONSHIP (2nd in the Drivers Classification, 28 points)
After scoring his first win of the season in Silverstone's Race One, Nicola Larini is eight points behind his Gta Racing Team Nordauto team-mate Giovanardi. "I like the Brno circuit very much, and after my Silverstone win, I feel very confident," Larini explained. "My goal is now to overturn the classification and to take the lead from Fabrizio. The races at Silverstone showed that the others are improving, which was not unexpected. Nobody at Alfa Romeo was expecting to have an easy season despite our domination at Magny Cours. We are still working to maintain a small margin, as the worst mistake we could make now would be to rest on our laurels. Brno is a very technical track, and it is likely that the BMW cars will be competitive. However, we can benefit from the past two season's experience, while the BMW and Volvo teams have never raced there."

DIRK MULLER HOPES FOR BRNO (3rd in the Drivers Classification, 13 points)
After finishing in third place in both the Magny Cours races, Dirk Müller finished fourth and fifth in the Silverstone races. He fought hard with Giovanardi in Race One, and led the second race at the wheel of his BMW Team Deutschland BMW 320i. "It was quite a surprise to me. We had worked on the set up of the cars, which resulted in perfect balance, but Jörg and I had to drive at the limit to stay with the Alfa Romeo cars and Rydell's Volvo. I really enjoyed fighting for the lead, and I think we gave the spectators a fantastic show, both those at the track and those watching on television," Müller explained. The German driver last drove at Brno in the early 1990's, when he was racing in Formula König. "It was a long time ago. As far as I remember, Brno should suit our car which has good handling. But there are also a lot of ups and downs. When you go uphill, you need power, and at the moment Alfa has much more than us. In Brno we have new engines, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that they will give us the chance to be competitive. But if the Alfa Romeo engines have also improved, I am afraid we will have the same gap to close."

RYDELL INTENDS TO STAY AHEAD OF BMW (joint 3rd in the Drivers Classification, 13 points)
The second race in Silverstone gave Volvo its first podium in the revived FIA European Touring Car Championship. The series is now heading for Brno, where the Volvo 240 Turbo won the 4-hours race in 1985 and 1986. Could Rickard Rydell claim another success for the Swedish manufacturer ? "I would like to be able to do that, but for the moment I do not think we will be in a position to beat Alfa Romeo," explained the Swedish driver, who led the Silverstone Race One for six laps. "It was a good result both for me and the team, but we still have to find more on the engine side to cope with the Alfas. In Brno we will have some improvements, which will hopefully push us a little closer, but I think the gap is too big to be filled so quickly. Also, we have never been to Brno before, and this will delay our work on the set-up of the car. I would be happy to stay ahead of the BMW cars."

A SUPER 2000 HONDA CIVIC FOR SANDRO SARDELLI
Italian driver Sandro Sardelli is looking forward to Brno, after missing both the previous events at Magny Cours and Silverstone. "I should have driven a Super Production version of the new Honda Civic Type-R, but we had some technical problems that could not be fixed, as the team was working hard on Tavano's Super 2000 car," said Sardelli. However, CiBiEmme Team will be entering a second Super 2000 Civic in Brno for Sardelli. "I am very excited, and I am doing my best to get ready for my debut. As we saw at Silverstone, where Tavano drove the car for the first time, the chassis of the Civic is excellent. We still have to see the full Super 2000-spec engine as built by Dave Hill's International Engine Service, but I am very confident, remembering how competitive the Nissan engines they supplied to Matt Neal were. I know we have to work hard to develop the car, but I am sure we hold every card to be successful : the team is very professional, technical director Peter Wyss is a brilliant technician and Honda believes in the programme and is willing to support us," he concluded.

KOX HOPES HIS BRNO LUCK WILL CONTINUE
Brno is one of Peter Kox's favourite racetracks. "I have always had good luck there, having won the 2000 Euro STC race for Honda, and last season's FIA European Super Production race with a BMW. I would like to continue my winning streak, but being realistic, I do not see much hope of doing it," he said. The Dutch driver has had a difficult start to the season, and has not scored any points.

"I could put the blame on bad luck : the gearbox failure in Magny-Cours and the first lap collision in which I was involved at Silverstone. But the real problem is that our programme was finalised quite late, so we had almost no testing before Magny Cours. The level of this Championship is so high that only the teams that had a lot of winter testing can be competitive early on. Alfa Romeo started to develop the new car very early, and they have dominated the first two events. Now we are working very hard to fill the gap, but with a race every two weeks and three cars to be prepared for three top drivers, it is not an easy task. For the moment, all I can do is hope that my good luck will help me once more in Brno."

-fia-

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Series General
Drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi , Dirk Müller , Peter Kox , Matt Neal , Rickard Rydell , Gabriele Tarquini , Nicola Larini , Roberto Colciago , Peter Wyss