ETCC: Budapest preview

FIA European Super Touring Championship - Rounds 11 & 12 FIA European Super Production Championship - Round 6 Budapest (Hun), 29th June/ 1st July 2001 Championship Rundown The FIA European Touring Car Championship season resumes at Budapest, ...

FIA European Super Touring Championship - Rounds 11 & 12
FIA European Super Production Championship - Round 6
Budapest (Hun), 29th June/ 1st July 2001

Championship Rundown
The FIA European Touring Car Championship season resumes at Budapest, with ten rounds of the Super Touring Championship and five rounds of the Super Production Championship yet to be raced. Both titles are still wide open.

In the FIA Super Touring Championship, only two points separate the championship leader Nicola Larini from his Alfa Romeo Nordauto team-mate Fabrizio Giovanardi. Larini, who has led the Championship since the first race at Monza, had technical problems at Zolder, allowing Giovanardi to close the gap. The third contender for the European title is Gabriele Tarquini. Despite being 63 points behind Larini, the JAS Motorsport driver remains a serious rival for the Alfa Romeo drivers. His Honda Accord has frequently proved to be the fastest car on the track this season.

In the FIA Super Production Championship, Duncan Huisman's success at Zolder enabled the young Dutchman to increase his championship lead to seven points. After five rounds, there are two main contenders for the title. Huisman has scored two wins this season, while Peter Kox has won three times. Both Dutchmen are driving BMWs, with Huisman driving for Carly Motorsport and Kox for Ravaglia Motorsport.

Sardelli And Simon lead Michelin Trophies
Sandro Sardelli took the lead of the Super Touring "Amateurs" Trophy at Zolder. Despite problems with his PRO Motorsport Nissan Primera in qualifying and the first race, Sardelli started from pole position on the reverse grid for Race 2. He took the lead at the start and kept it for the first lap, before being overtaken by eventual winner Giovanardi. Sardelli then defended his second position from Neal and Larini, before dropping to fourth on the last lap. This win in the "Amateurs" class gave him the lead in the Trophy's classification, ahead of Massimo Pigoli, who failed to score following a collision with Cayrolle. Sardelli now has 300 points, leading De Lorenzi and Pigoli by 20 and 39 points respectively.

The Super Production "Under 25" Trophy is still led by Ravaglia Motorsport's Norman Simon, who finished 3rd overall at Zolder, behind Huisman and team-mate Kox. Simon's fourth win in the "U25" Trophy in five rounds gives him a 30-point lead over Fulvio Cavicchi. However, the battle should be even more interesting with the arrival of 24 year old Finn Markus Palttala, whose GDL Racing Honda Integra finished in third place in the "U25" class at Zolder, and of Simone Di Luca, who will enter a second RJN Motorsport Nissan Primera from Budapest onwards.


Alfa Romeo Nordauto tests at Fiorano
The Alfa Romeo Nordauto Team has spent the break between Zolder and Budapest working on the performance of its 156s. Nicola Larini and Fabrizio Giovanardi took part in intensive test sessions at Ferrari's track in Fiorano, developing the engine, the aerodynamics and the suspension. Different suspension geometries were tested, to try to reduce the front tyre wear that has been the Alfa's weak point this season. New engine management programs were also tested, looking for better torque at low revs. A complete functional check was made on the electrical wiring and connections, to avoid a reoccurrence of the failures that plagued Larini's car at Silverstone and Zolder. The results of the Fiorano tests were satisfying, as the 156s improved their 2000 track record by 0.5 seconds, their best time being clocked at 1:19.78.

GDL Racing : One More, One Less
Budapest will mark the return of Moreno Soli to the FIA European Touring Car Championship, after a break of 17 years. Soli is a veteran of Touring Car racing, having taken part in the 1984 European Championship at the wheel of an Alfa Romeo Gtv. He remained faithful to the Italian brand, racing the 75, 155 and 156 models in the Italian Championship, where he proved to be one of the best independent drivers and claimed three class titles and the 1994 Privateers trophy. Last year, Soli competed in the European Super Touring Cup at the wheel of an Alfa 156 run by his own team ; his best result was sixth place at Monza. From Budapest onwards, he will join the FIA European Super Touring Championship, driving a GDL Racing BMW 320i, alongside team owner Gianluca De Lorenzi.

De Lorenzi will however not take part in the Budapest meeting following an accident in the team's workshop in which the driver injured his right wrist. He will be back for the next meeting at the A-1 Ring.

Matt Neal aims for his first win
After finishing third at Silverstone and second in Zolder, Matthew Neal hopes to claim his first European Touring Car win at Budapest. The Briton joined the Super Touring championship at the third meeting at Magny-Cours, and looks like becoming a factor in the title fight, being capable of taking points from the three main title contenders. In the previous rounds, his Nissan Primera, entered by RJN Motorsport and run by Team Dynamics, proved to be one of the most competitive cars on the track. He set the fastest lap in the second Magny-Cours race, despite having what he described as "a sick engine". The engine has been completely rebuilt since Zolder, and Neal's hopes are high.


Di Luca joins in
Simone Di Luca will take part in the last five races of the FIA European Super Production Championship, driving a RJN Motorsport Nissan Primera alongside the team's leading driver Tommy Rustad. The car was driven by British driver Matthew Kelly at Silverstone. Before Budapest, the team has completely rebuilt the engine, responsible for Kelly's poor performance in the British round. Di Luca, a 23 year-old from Rome, is making his international debut after only three seasons in racing. He previously competed in the Italian championship for Group N Touring Cars, with one win and selected podium finishes at the wheel of an Alfa Romeo 156.

Belgian BMW for Peter Beckers
The third Carly Motorsport BMW will be driven at Budapest by Peter Beckers. The driver, who has never raced outside Belgium, is one of the three dealers appointed by BMW Belgium to take part in two rounds of the FIA European Super Production Championship. The previous ones were Guino Kenis, who finished eighth in Monza and sixth at Magny-Cours, and Patrick Beliën, who raced at Brno. After Budapest, Beckers, who previously drove a BMW 318i in the Belcar Championship, will also compete in the Jarama round of the FIA European Touring Car Championship.


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Series General
Drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi , Norman Simon , Peter Kox , Peter Becker , Matt Neal , Duncan Huisman , Nicola Larini , Markus Palttala , Guino Kenis , Tommy Rustad