Eve of The Battle Three Questions To: Fabrizio Giovanardi A double FIA ETCC champion, Fabrizio Giovanardi returned to Alfa Romeo this year, after spending the 2003 with BMW Team Italy-Spain. The Italian driver was able to score his only win of...
Eve of The Battle
Three Questions To: Fabrizio Giovanardi
A double FIA ETCC champion, Fabrizio Giovanardi returned to Alfa Romeo this year, after spending the 2003 with BMW Team Italy-Spain. The Italian driver was able to score his only win of the current season in Valencia, but in the following rounds he suffered from a number of different problems. Therefore, he is virtually out of the title fight coming into this event in Imola.
Q: How do you see your return to Alfa Romeo, now that more than half of the season is over?
FG: "It's definitely a positive balance, because at least I've been able to score one win after an 18-month abstinence. Then I should say that I've been hit by a lot of bad luck in the following races, and most of the times I couldn't do anything to avoid these problems. I'm not saying that this is the only reason that I'm not fighting for the title now, but for sure it affected my results a lot."
Q: With three BMW drivers leading the championship, and the best Alfa Romeo driver (Tarquini) 20 points behind, do you think that Alfa Romeo has any chances of retaining the title?
FG: "Yes I do. Otherwise we could have better stayed home-- I think we still have some margin. Maybe not to overturn the situation, but at least tor keep fighting until the final round and make the BMW drivers' life harder. Imola is a good track for us, and I'm confident that we can score a couple of wins and steal some points from BMW. We've got something new on our car, something we have tested in Vallelunga, and that should help us."
Q: You drove for BMW last year, and you are driving for Alfa Romeo now. Do you have an idea of the reason why the Alfa 156 is less competitive than it was last year or at the beginning of this season?
FG: "It is quite clear that the BMW cars have fitted in with the new tyres better than the Alfas. This aside, we have suffered very much from the weather changes. Our car is quite competitive when is cool, and struggles with hot temperatures. It's not easy to say why, and probably there is more than only one reason. However, as I said, we will keep on working to improve, and we expect to make a significant step forward."
ZWART AND RUOKONEN TO MISS IMOLA
Two drivers were forced to miss the Imola round: Carly Motors' Paulien Zwart and GR Asia's Toni Ruokonen.
"Paulien is not feeling well," team manager Fem Canes explained. "After she raced in Spa she had a relapse. She is suffering again from pain in the pelvis, that was fractured in her accident at Magny-Cours. For her own health, she can't take the risk to drive. She is out for the rest of the season and we are currently looking for a driver to replace her."
As for Ruokonen, "We decided not to run the second car because we had too many technical failures in Spa," team principal Paul Ridgway declared. "Managing only one car can help us to focus on the development. I want to have Toni back, I'm not sure this can happen in Oschersleben, but we will definitely bring both cars to Dubai."
MICHELIN TEST IN VALLELUNGA
On Tuesday and Wednesday, seven FIA ETCC teams with a total of eleven cars took part in a test session organised by Michelin. "We have tested a few evolutions of our 17" slick tyres in view of the 2005 season, when the Championship will become FIA WTCC," explained Mathieu Bonardel of Michelin Competition, adding: "This does not necessarily mean that we are going to change the control tyre for next year. We just wanted to have different options, but in the end it will be up to the FIA to take a decision."
The drivers took turns in testing five new tyres in the two days. "We must take into consideration that their lap times are not comparable, because they tested different types of tyres in different moments of the day," Bonardel explained.
The best lap times in the two days were:
1:16.7 Fabrizio Giovanardi, Alfa Romeo 156
1:16.9 Andy Priaulx, BMW 320i
1:17.2 Jorg Muller, BMW 320i
1:17.4 Dirk Muller, BMW 320i
1:17.5 Jordi Gene, SEAT Toledo
1:17.5 Rickard Rydell, SEAT Toledo
1:17.5 Carl Rosenblad, BMW 320i
1:17.6 Antonio Garcia, BMW 320i
1:17.7 Alessandro Zanardi, BMW 320i
1:18.0 Gabriele Tarquini, Alfa Romeo 156
1:19.0 Frank Diefenbacher, SEAT Toledo