ETCC: Jarama race report

Alfa Romeo's supremacy in the 2002 FIA European Touring Car Championship seems to be neverending. Gta Racing Team Nordauto drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi and Nicola Larini shared honours in Jarama, claiming one win and one second place apiece,...

Alfa Romeo's supremacy in the 2002 FIA European Touring Car Championship seems to be neverending. Gta Racing Team Nordauto drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi and Nicola Larini shared honours in Jarama, claiming one win and one second place apiece, despite having to cope withfierce resistance from Jorg Muller and Paolo Ruberti, who led the first and the second race for several laps respectively.

WEATHER: sunny and hot, with a dry track.

RACE ONE: GIOVANARDI AND LARINI OVERTAKE JORG MÜLLER TO MAKE 1-2

Start: Three cars line-up at the back of the grid: Rickard Rydell's Volvo S60 and Tommy Rustad's Nissan Primera for engine changes, while Salvatore Tavano's Honda Civic was allowed to take the start although it did not post a time in qualifying. Rustad, Rydell and Tavano occupy the 17th, 18th and 19th spots respectively. Tavano's CiBiEmme team-mate Sandro Sardelli was withdrawn by the team due to persisting engine problems plaguing his Honda Civic.

From the second row, Jorg Muller takes the best start and jumps into the lead chased by Giovanardi, Larini and Dirk Muller. Rustad does not take the start due to an engine gasket problem.

Lap 1: At the first corner Bernardoni's Alfa 156 and Tavano's Honda Civic collide and the latter rejoins after a spin. Ruberti is fifth, right behind the four leading cars.
top-ten positions: 42 -- 1 -- 2 -- 43 -- 14 -- 5 -- 7 -- 15 -- 9 -- 6

Lap 2: Giovanardi is closely chasing Jorg Muller whilst Dirk Muller is trying to attack Larini's third position. The German drives wide at Bugatti and risks to losing fourth to Ruberti. Villamil retires from eighth position due to a gearbox failure.
top-ten positions: 42 -- 1 -- 2 -- 43 -- 14 -- 5 -- 7 -- 9 -- 6 -- 10

Lap 3: Rydell tries to make his way through the field but his recovery is difficult. The Jorg Muller-Giovanardi-Larini trio pushes hard to build up a margin but Dirk Muller and Ruberti manage to keep in touch.
top-ten positions: 42 -- 1 -- 2 -- 43 -- 14 -- 5 -- 7 -- 9 -- 6 -- 10

Lap 4: Giovanardi dives inside Jorg Muller at Nuvolari corner, the German resists and seems capable to retain the lead in the following Fangio bend, but the Italian finally passes at Varzi and takes the lead for good. Ekblom overtakes De Simone for ninth.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 42 -- 2 -- 43 -- 14 -- 5 -- 7 -- 9 -- 10 -- 6

Lap 5: Four drivers are having a close fight over the positions from ninth to twelfth: Ekblom, De Simone, Hanson and Cayrolle. Giovanardi increases his margin while Larini is putting pressure on Jorg Muller.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 42 -- 2 -- 43 -- 14 -- 5 -- 7 -- 9 -- 10 -- 6

Lap 6: Larini manages to steal second place from Jorg Muller at the braking of the Nuvolari corner. The Italian also sets the race's fastest lap so far at 1:43.872.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 2 -- 42 -- 43 -- 14 -- 5 -- 7 -- 9 -- 10 -- 6

Lap 7: Rydell overtakes Cayrolle for twelfth.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 2 -- 42 -- 43 -- 14 -- 5 -- 7 -- 9 -- 10 -- 6

Lap 8: Ruberti loses contact from the two Mullers. Hanson pushes De Simone into a spin and moves up to tenth. Giovanardi improves the race's fastest lap to 1:43.841.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 2 -- 42 -- 43 -- 14 -- 5 -- 7 -- 9 -- 10 -- 61

Lap 9: Coronel is attacking Gene's sixth position. Morbidelli pits with technical problems; he rejoins two laps later.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 2 -- 42 -- 43 -- 14 -- 5 -- 7 -- 9 -- 10 -- 61

Lap 10: Hanson is showed a black-and-white warning flag for his action on De Simone. The young Briton is chased by Rydell and Cayrolle. Coronel claims sixth place from Gene. Tavano pits with a puncture and retires.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 2 -- 42 -- 43 -- 14 -- 7 -- 5 -- 9 -- 10 -- 61

Lap 11: Rydell overtakes his team-mate Hanson for tenth. Kox overtakes Gene for seventh.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 2 -- 42 -- 43 -- 14 -- 7 -- 9 -- 5 -- 10 -- 60

Lap 12: Ekblom and Gene are nose-to-tail fighting for eighth. Bernardoni retires with gearbox problems.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 2 -- 42 -- 43 -- 14 -- 7 -- 9 -- 5 -- 10 -- 60

Lap 13: Giovanardi claims another win from Larini with Jorg Muller completing the podium. Dirk Muller, Ruberti and Coronel score the other points and for the Dutchman this ias the first occasion in the current season. Ekblom manages to overtake Gene for eighth.
final positions: 1 -- 2 -- 42 -- 43 -- 14 -- 7 -- 9 -- 10 -- 5 -- 60

RACE TWO: LARINI SCORES HIS SECOND WIN AFTER RUBERTI'S EARLY LEAD

Villamil does not show up on the grid, nor does Bernardoni, whose car is still under repairs when the red light closes the pit-lane. Rustad manages to line up on the last spot of the starting grid. Tom Coronel is sitting on pole position as result of his sixth position in Race One. Start: Coronel almost stalls the engine because of a clutch problem and Ruberti takes the lead. Bernardoni takes the start from the end of the pit-lane.

Lap 1: Hanson is pushed on the grass by another car at the Farina corner but rejoins. Ruberti leads the race from Dirk Muller, Jorg Muller, Larini, Giovanardi and Ekblom. Rustad takes a very good start and managest to climb up to tenth. At the end of the lap Coronel pits and retires as his car's clutch problems are getting worse.
top-ten positions: 14 -- 43 -- 42 -- 2 -- 1 -- 10 -- 9 -- 5 -- 16 -- 11

Lap 2: Giovanardi tries to pass Larini at the Farina bend but his team-mate shuts the door. Ruberti increases his leading margin to 1.5 seconds.
top-ten positions: 14 -- 43 -- 42 -- 2 -- 1 -- 10 -- 9 -- 5 -- 16 -- 11

Lap 3: Despite strong resistance, Jorg Muller loses his third place to Larini and then fourth to Giovanardi. A few moments later Larini overtakes Dirk Muller for second. The fight between the Schnitzer and Nordauto drivers enables Ruberti to stretch his margin to two seconds. Morbidelli and Tavano both retire with technical problems.
top-ten positions: 14 -- 2 -- 43 -- 1 -- 42 -- 10 -- 9 -- 5 -- 16 -- 11

Lap 4: Giovanardi dives inside Dirk Muller at the Varzi bend but the German resists and in vain Jorg Muller tries to benefit from the situation and pass both of them. Giovanardi finally manages to steal third position from Dirk Muller to complete an Alfa Romeo 1-2-3 in the lead. Rydell overtakes Rustad for tenth as the Norwegian driver's engine suddenly dies and restarts.
top-ten positions: 14 -- 2 -- 1 -- 43 -- 42 -- 10 -- 9 -- 5 -- 16 -- 60

Lap 5: Ekblom, Kox, Gene and Cayrolle are closely fighting for the positions between sixth and ninth. Giovanardi clocks a new lap record in 1:43.094.
top-ten positions: 14 -- 2 -- 1 -- 43 -- 42 -- 10 -- 9 -- 5 -- 16 -- 60

Lap 6: Larini is closely chasing Ruberti. He risks punting him off by braking too late at the Ascari chicane and then he manages to overbrake him at the Bugatti corner to become the new race leader.
top-ten positions: 2 -- 14 -- 1 -- 43 -- 42 -- 10 -- 9 -- 5 -- 16 -- 60

Lap 7: Giovanardi steals second place from Ruberti at the Nuvolari braking point. De Simone retires with clutch problems.
top-ten positions: 2 -- 1 -- 14 -- 43 -- 42 -- 10 -- 9 -- 5 -- 16 -- 60

Lap 8: Dirk Muller and Jorg Muller close on Ruberti.
top-ten positions: 2 -- 1 -- 14 -- 43 -- 42 -- 10 -- 9 -- 5 -- 16 -- 60

Lap 9: Rydell retires with fuel pressure problems handing tenth position to his team-mate Hanson.
top-ten positions: 2 -- 1 -- 14 -- 43 -- 42 -- 10 -- 9 -- 5 -- 16 -- 61

Lap 11: The Mullers move a combined attack to Ruberti: Dirk dives inside the Italian at the Varzi bend and moves up to third; Jorg also manages to pass in the following Farina corner to claim fourth. Ferrier and Bernardoni both retire with differential problems.
top-ten positions: 2 -- 1 -- 43 -- 42 -- 14 -- 10 -- 9 -- 5 -- 16 -- 61

Lap 12: Ekblom desperately defends his sixth position from Kox's attacks. Hanson also retires with the same fuel pressure problems that plagued Rydell's sister car. This enables Rustad to show up again in the top-ten.
top-ten positions: 2 -- 1 -- 43 -- 42 -- 14 -- 10 -- 9 -- 5 -- 16 -- 11

Lap 13: Larini manages to maintain a small margin and wins from Giovanardi, Dirk and Jorg Muller. Ruberti slows down with differential problems and is being pushed off the points by Ekblom and Kox at the last corner.
final positions: 2 -- 1 -- 43 -- 42 -- 10 -- 9 -- 14 -- 5 -- 16 -- 11

Fabrizio Giovanardi, nr 1 Gta Racing Team Nordauto Alfa Romeo 156 GTA : "I am really happy. This year everything seems to be easy. We have a great car and the team is doing a great job. So far we drivers have just to avoid mistakes. Honestly I was surprised by our performances here, because we were never as competitive as we were today with the hot temperatures. I know that the championship is being boring because of my domination, but this is not my fault. I am just doing my job and I am really pushing hard now because I would like to win the title in an easier way than last year. Therefore I want to build up the biggest margin possible before the other cars will improve".

Nicola Larini, nr 2 Gta Racing Team Nordauto Alfa Romeo 156 GTA: "Today Fabrizio and I drove very carefully. We wanted to obtain the best results and to respect the team's work. Thus we challenged each other but we never risked having a collision and spoiling everything. It would have been nonsense. I was a bit worried at the start of the second race because I had heard of the gearbox problems Romana Bernardoni had in the first race and I feared that the same could happen to me. And that's why I was very careful in upshifting the gears. But in the end everything worked well with the exception of some understeer. I also enjoyed the fight I had with the Mullers and I would like to say that they were extremely correct. I am sorry for I hit Ruberti in the chicane when I missed the braking point, but in the end nothing happened and I managed to overtake him in a clear way a few moments later".

Dirk Muller, nr 43 BMW Team Germany BMW 320i E46 : "The third place is the best we can achieve at the moment because Giovanardi and Larini are really unbeatable. It was clearly shown when they overtook me easily going uphill. The weekend had a good start but then turned to very tough races. In the end the Schnitzer team should be happy with two third places. Altough I am afraid that the championship is gone now; Giovanardi and Larini are in a league of their own ad I feel like I'm leading the second championship".

Jorg Muller, nr 42 BMW Team Germany BMW 320i E46 : "I totally agree with Giovanardi when he says that they have a very good car. And what happened today showed to BMW people that we have to work really hard to be in their pace. We need a big step forward otherwise the championship is gone; we are working very hard because we want to win some races on our own efforts. And I don't think that the introduction of the success ballasts system will be a big help for us; our cars are already 30 kgs heavier than then Alfas and giving 30 kgs to them it will not make us competitive".

Paolo Ruberti, nr 14 AGS Motorsport: "It was a very positive weekend for me: I scored two more points in Race One and I led Race Two. Although I have to say that I was disappointed by the ease with which Giovanardi and Larini overtook me. It's clear that there is a big difference between their engines and mine. Unfortunately towards the end of the second race I was forced to slow down because the differential was getting worse and worse. I was having a lot of vibrations on the front and this turned to wheelspin whilst exiting the corners. I was forced to completethe whole last lap in second gear and that cost me the fifth place at the last corner. It was a shame, because my car was very good and I think I had a good chance to resist the Mullers and finishing third".

Peter Kox, nr 9 Carly Motors-Team Isert: "I think that it was fantastic for the team to get its first points in the championship. For me it is not a big difference to finish sixth or seventh, but for them is a reward for their work. We are really struggling to get on the pace. You can see clearly that we have potential and finally we showed here that our competitiveness is improving and that we are closing and closing on the Schnitzer cars. We are all making big efforts, but at each weekend we should concentrate very much on every single details to improve even further and to be sure we are on the ball. And if we are on the ball we can aim for good results. Like today when my car was capable of finishing both races".

Fredrik Ekblom, nr 10 BMW Team Belgium: "We had worked very hard to find the best set-up since the beginning of the weekend, but finally it did not work and we had a very bad qualifying. We had to go back on our steps and we found a solution that proved effective in the warm-up and this relaunched our hopes to be in the points. Obviously I struggled in the first race because of my bad position on the starting grid, but I managed to finish fifth in the second race that was a very good result for the team".

Tom Coronel, nr 7 Carly Motors-Team Isert: "I told you that we were improving race after race. The first race was very good for me. I made a good start that enabled me to overtake Villamil and then I had a really good fight with Gene. Despite the fact that I started to having some clutch problems I managed to stay in the points. In the second half of the race I did not use the clutch anymore while shifting and when I came between the two races, the mechanics were able to fix the problem. Apparently at least. When I rejoined the grid everything was working but on the warm-up lap it started again. I tried to take a make a good start anyway revving up at 8500 and just smacking the first gear in. It did not work, the engine almost stalled and I tangled with Hanson's car at the first corner. I was very disappointed, because I think I had the chance to finish fourth or fifth in the second race".

Jordi Gene, nr 5 BMW Team Spain: "The weekend had started well. We had a positive qualifying and then I had a very good start and I managed to keep the sixth place for most of the first race. But then something went wrong and the engine started to lose torque. I was slower and slower in exiting the corners and this made it very difficult to defend my position. I tried very hard to keep it but in the end I lost three places in the final laps. In the second race it was the same, the engine worked well at the beginning and then had the same problem. I was hoping for more luck in my home race".

-etcc-

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Series General
Drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi , Dirk Müller , Tom Coronel , Jorg Muller , Peter Kox , Rickard Rydell , Paolo Ruberti , Jordi Gene , Nicola Larini , Tommy Rustad