ETCC: Eurosport Super Racing Weekend - Estoril (POR) - October 19th - 21st

Eurosport Super Racing Weekend Round 10 : Estoril(Portugal), 19th&Ndash; 21ST October 2001 The 2001 Eurosport Super Racing Weekends draw to a close next weekend, with the final races of the season being held at the Portuguese track of Estoril....

Eurosport Super Racing Weekend Round 10 : Estoril(Portugal), 19th&Ndash; 21ST October 2001

The 2001 Eurosport Super Racing Weekends draw to a close next weekend, with the final races of the season being held at the Portuguese track of Estoril. The FIA N-GT Driver and Team titles, and both the Super Touring and Super Production titles are still to be decided. The track, which hosted the FIA Formula One World Championship until 1996, is situated 30 km west of Lisbon. Built in 1972, the circuit recently underwent extensive renovation work, reopening last year.

The circuit has not recently hosted any major touring car championships, although a number of the European Touring Car Championship drivers competed there in 1996, during a round of the FIA International Touring Car Championship. However, it was not a particularly successful event for any of the current title contenders, with Nicola Larini failing to finish both races and Gabriele Tarquini also out of the points.

FIA EUROPEAN TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP

Championship Rundown Strong grids are expected in Estoril, for the final races of the 2001 season, which will also determine the Championship winners. In the Super Touring Championship, Gabriele Tarquini has shown himself to be in excellent shape since the A1 Ring, winning four out of six races and finishing second in the two other ones. He is now second in the Championship, equal with Nicola Larini, and just 16 points behind the leader, Fabrizio Giovanardi. "It is great to finish the Championship this way. It has been a battle throughout the season !" Tarquini said. "It has not been easy to close the gap on Giovanardi but now, I can be optimistic for the last fight ! On the paper, my car is very competitive and I know– and like - the track. Still, in racing, anything can happen…"

Current Championship leader, Fabrizio Giovanardi, is optimistic about his chances : "I don’t know the circuit but I am not worried ! The situation is the same every year ! I am used to the pressure. It will be good for the spectators !". On his main rival, Tarquini, Fabrizio added: "For the last three events, the Honda has been really quick but I will fight until the end. Gabriele has to win, not me ! If Gabriele wins both races and I finish second and third, I will still win the title". Giovanardi’s team mate Nicola Larini will also aim for the title in this last meeting: "After the first part of the season, I was leading the Championship so the current situation is not easy for me. Now, I am on the same standing as Tarquini and it will not be easy to get 16 points from Giovanardi. I hope for rain as it suits our car better than the Honda. And in these conditions, anything can happen. This is my last chance !" 80 points will be allocated for the last two races.

In Estoril, Tarquini will once more be supported by his former British Touring Car Championship team-mate, James Thompson, who finished on the podium in his first ETCC race at Jarama. In the Alfa Romeo camp, Felipe Massa should once more take to the track, after making his touring car debut in the previous round. Alfa Romeo Nordauto should be able to secure the Teams Championship in the final race. The team has a 131-point lead over nearest rival JAS Engineering Italia, who run the Honda Accord cars, with only 150 points left in play.

The Super Production Championship will also reach its final conclusion at Estoril. The previous round, with a first-lap crash decimating the field, saw Ravaglia Motorsport’s Peter Kox regain the advantage over his year-long rival, Carly Motors’ Duncan Huisman. Only three points separate the two Dutchmen, both of whom have won three races this season. Peter Kox is looking forward to the race : "I have a good feeling for this last race as I have a good car and I have had a good year so far. I am just hoping for a fair fight with my competitors. I will concentrate on Huisman and forget about Tommy Rustad as he is so strong at the moment… Anyway, let’s hope for a good fight up until the last race !". Duncan Huisman will benefit from the support of the current Dutch Touring Car Champion, Sandor van Es, and the multi-talented Tom Coronel. "It will be very exciting ! I am only three points behind Peter and we have the same number of wins ! I will also have good team-mates who shall help me to secure the title !". Twenty points will be allocated during the final race. However, the two most recent wins have gone to the Nissan Primera of Norwegian driver Tommy Rustad, who is currently third in the Championship.

In the Teams classification, Ravaglia Motorsport leads Carly Motors by 28 points, with a maximum of 35 points still available.

SUPER TOURING CHAMPIONSHIP

Alfa Romeo Nordauto (1st, 1142 pts) : Muller joins the team In order to support the team’s race to the title in the FIA European Super Touring Championship, French touring car driver Yvan Muller will replace Romana Bernardoni for the final races of the season at Estoril. Muller won the French Super Touring Championship in 1995 with a BMW. Since then, he has competed in the Italian, German and British Championships for Audi Sport and Vauxhall, establishing himself as one of the leading touring car drivers. This year he finished second in the British Touring Car Championship, driving for Vauxhall. At Estoril, he will be supporting Nordauto’s drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi and Nicola Larini, who are fighting for the Teams and Drivers titles against the JAS Honda of Gabriele Tarquini. "I am very pleased to be able to race alongside champions like Giovanardi and Tarquini," Muller said. "Today I had my first test in the Super Touring Alfa 156 at Fiorano, and I was very impressed with the car. I was really flattered to be contacted by Nordauto, because I consider the team to be one of the most competitive and innovative in Touring Car competition. I am really looking forward to Estoril and I sincerely hope to be a factor in the final rounds of the FIA Championship and to help Giovanardi or Larini claim the European crown." Romana Bernardoni will drive a Conrero Alfa Romeo 147 in the final race of the FIA European Super Production Championship.

Volvo S40 Team Sweden (16th, 15 pts) return to the Championship Jan Nilsson and Jens Edman will compete in the final round of the FIA European Super Touring Championship, driving Volvo S40 cars. Nilsson, who is 40 years old, has been a Volvo driver for many years, winning the Swedish Championship in 1996 and 1997. This year he finished second, behind AGS Motorsport’s Roberto Colciago. Nilsson took part in the first race of the FIA European Super Touring Championship at Monza, qualifying in 6th place, but losing places during the race due to accidents. 24-year old Jens Edman made his touring car debut in 1998, and has won three races in the Swedish Super Touring Championship this year, to finish third behind his team-mate.

Swedish Privateer Champion to race in STC
Tobias Johansson will enter the final two races of the FIA European Super Touring Championship in his Brovallen Motorsport Audi A4 Quattro. The 27-year old Swede dominated the Cup for independent drivers in the Swedish Touring Car Championship this year, winning ten out of the 20 races. He also claimed pole position at Knutstorp, and proceeded to win the race, beating Audi and Volvo works drivers Roberto Colciago and Jens Edman. Tobias brings the number of Swedish drivers taking part in the final round to five, the most numerous group behind the Italians, of whom 13 will be taking part.

SUPER PRODUCTION CHAMPIONSHIP

Carly Motors with five cars in the title race Dutch team Carly Motors, currently second in the Teams classification, will enter a record number of five BMW 320i E46 cars in the season’s final race. The two new cars will be driven by Dutch Touring Car Championship contenders, Sandor van Es and Tom Coronel. After four seasons with BMW, Sandor van Es, 31, finally clinched the Dutch Touring Car Championship title last week-end at Zandvoort. Since 1997, he has regularly finished second. Last year he was the runner-up behind Duncan Huisman. Sandor’s regular team mate, Tom Coronel, took part in his first-ever touring car season this year and finished fifth with three wins. Tom has also been a regular participant in the FIA GT Championship, racing the Lister Storm alongside Jamie Campbell-Walter. "I will do my own race at Estoril," Tom said. "I will try not to get involved in the duel between Duncan and Peter. I will be there to win the race myself. I have a good feeling for Estoril !"

Dutch Renault Sport Team enters SPC
The Renault Dealer Team Holland has entered two Renault Clio RS cars in the final round of the FIA European Super Production Championship. This season, the team has been competing in the Dutch Touring Car Championship, with a total of six wins, four from Donald Molenaar and two from team owner Frans Verschuur. The team has been running Renault Netherlands’ sports programmes for many years, having already claimed two Dutch Touring Car titles for the French manufacturer. Verschuur and Molenaar will be driving the Clios in Estoril.

British team contests final round
For the first time, the FIA European Super Production Championship will welcome a team from the British Touring Car Championship. GA Racing will run two Alfa Romeo 156 cars at Estoril, for Swedish driver Benny Larsson and Briton Alan Blencowe. These cars, former Bigazzi models from the Italian Championship, have been competing in the Production class of the 2001 BTCC, with Keven Pyper and Colin Blair at the wheel. GA Racing’s principal is Gary Ayles, a former touring car and GT driver. He raced for the works Peugeot team in the Italian Touring Car Championship between 1992 and 1994 alongside, among others, STC Championship leader Fabrizio Giovanardi. He also drove the Parabolica Motorsport McLaren F1 GTR in the FIA GT Championship in 1997. "It is quite exciting to be running two cars in the European Touring Car Championship," Gary said. "I know it’s quite competitive, and it will be very interesting to see how it compares to the UK Championship. We do not plan to get in the way of the Championship battle; we are just there to look and see, as we are very interested in a full season entry for next year. Our drivers are new to the team, and they will mainly be there for the experience."

<pre> PRACTICAL INFORMATION Circuit Length : 4.182 km/ 2.599 miles

On air on Eurosport : Saturday, 20th October 2001 17:00– 19:00 : Qualifying– LIVE Sunday 21st October 2001 14:30– 17:30 : Races– LIVE Wednesday 24th October 2001 17:30– 18:00 : Highlights 23.45– 00.15 : Repeat Friday 26th October 2001 09.30– 10:00 : Repeat

Other races FC Euro Series FFSA Formula France European Trophy Honda BPI Cup (Junior and Senior)

Websites : www.fia.com www.gtracing.net www.eurostc.com www.fpak.pt

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Series General
Drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi , Tom Coronel , Peter Kox , Jamie Campbell-Walter , James Thompson , Duncan Huisman , Gabriele Tarquini , Nicola Larini , Roberto Colciago , Frans Verschuur , Gary Ayles , Jens Edman , Donald Molenaar , Tommy Rustad