ETCC: Magny-Cours race preview

For the third round of the Eurosport Super Racing Weekends, the FIA GT and European Touring Car Championships will be in the heart of France, at the circuit of Magny Cours, host to the French Grand Prix. The track, 4.25 km long, is close to the...

For the third round of the Eurosport Super Racing Weekends, the FIA GT and European Touring Car Championships will be in the heart of France, at the circuit of Magny Cours, host to the French Grand Prix. The track, 4.25 km long, is close to the town of Nevers, approximately 250 km south of Paris. Unusually, the races are being held on a Tuesday, as the 1st May is a public holiday in France. Last year, the FIA GT Championship held its final round at the challenging French track, and, in one of the most exciting races of the year, the battle for the GT Team and Drivers titles continued until the very last laps. Lister Storm Racing eventually claimed both Championships after a win for Julian Bailey and Jamie Campbell-Walter. Most of last season's protagonists will be back in action, with the addition of new players, such as the two Ferrari 550 Maranellos entered by Italian team Rafanelli. The circuit last hosted an international Touring Car race in 1996, when a round of the FIA International Touring Car Championship was held there. At that time, Alfa Romeo was in dominant form, with Alessandro Nannini winning both races ahead of his team-mates Nicola Larini and Giancarlo Fisichella. "I regret that I have never obtained good results there, because it's one of my favourite tracks," said JAS Honda driver Tarquini. "It's a very demanding circuit, not trivial at all and for brave drivers. It takes strong nerves to go flat out in the fast corners and the chicanes!"

International Touring Cars return to Magny Cours In the third round of the 2001 FIA European Super Touring Championship, the Alfa Romeos will once again be the cars to beat. Larini and his Nordauto team-mate Fabrizio Giovanardi have won three races out of four, placing themselves first and second in the championship classification, with a solid margin over AGS driver Massimo Pigoli, in third. "I like the track," Larini said. "I have always been fast there : I set poles in both the 1995 and 1996 ITC rounds, and the second year I could have won, but I let Nannini through at the last corner because he was fighting for the title. I think that Alfa and Honda will be equally competitive ; the Accord will be faster on the straights, but our car should be better in the twisty parts." Giovanardi's memories of Magny-Cours date back to almost ten years ago, when he was racing in Formula 3000. "I remember the circuit, but not my results, which means they were probably not very good!" Giovanardi joked. "Magny-Cours is a track that suits my driving style ; I like it because there are many braking points were you can overtake." Still considered the third contender for the title, despite failing to score in two of the four races so far, Gabriele Tarquini last raced at Magny-Cours on the same occasion as Larini, in the 1996 ITC round, but he has also raced at the track in some Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Pigoli and Simon lead the Michelin Trophies With a brilliant third overall position in the first Super Touring race at Brno, Massimo Pigoli, driving an AGS Motorsport Audi A4 Quattro, won the Amateurs class from championship newcomer Mikko Lempinen (Lehtonen Motorsport Audi A4 Quattro) and Eric Cayrolle (Max Team BMW 320i). In the second race, with Pigoli slowed by understeering problems, victory went to Sandro Sardelli (PRO Motorsport Nissan Primera) ahead of Gianluca De Lorenzi (GDL Racing BMW 320i) and Eric Cayrolle. These results have given Pigoli the lead in the Michelin STC Amateurs Trophy with 134 points. He has a 14-point margin over Sardelli, while Enrico Toccacelo (Conrero Alfa Romeo 156) is in third position with 102 points, one point ahead of German Heinrich Symanzick (RaceLine Opel Vectra). In the Michelin SPC Under 25 Trophy, for drivers under 25 years of age, Norman Simon claimed a second consecutive win in his Ravaglia Motorsport BMW 320i. Behind the young German, Tobia Masini (Bigazzi Alfa Romeo 156) was classified second and scored his first points in the championship. Third at Brno was Briton James Hanson (Edenbridge BMW 320i) who retains second position in the trophy's classification. Young Italian driver Fulvio Cavicchi made his debut in Brno, driving a brand new Conrero Alfa Romeo 147 to an excellent eighth position in the race, placing him fourth in the Under 25 Trophy.

SUPER TOURING CHAMPIONSHIP

Walfisch and Cayrolle racing on home ground The two Frenchmen who are taking part in the FIA European Super Touring Championship have steadily improved over the first two events, and will be looking for good results at Magny-Cours. In his first touring car season, Fabrice Walfisch, driving a JAS Honda Accord, has been closing the gap between his lap times and those of his experienced team-mate Tarquini. "Fabrice is getting there," Tarquini commented. "And I really hope he will be a factor in Magny-Cours, because I need his help to steal points from the Alfas". Walfisch is very confident. "I raced there in Formula 3 and Formula 3000, and I know exactly where to put my wheels. I am still in a learning phase with Super Touring cars, but my task will surely be easier at Magny-Cours. I'm really looking forward to racing there, and it would be absolutely fantastic to get my first podium result." Three-times French Supertouring Champion Eric Cayrolle not only knows the track well, but has also won three Super Touring races there, driving a BMW 320i very similar to the Max Team car he drives in the FIA European Touring Car Championship. "It's clearly impossible for me to catch the works Alfas and Hondas." Cayrolle admitted. "But I think I am in a position of advantage compared to my main rivals in the Amateurs class, Sardelli, Pigoli and De Lorenzi. I know the playground, and the BMW always proved very competitive on this track. I cannot deny that I am counting on winning the Amateurs class."

SUPER PRODUCTION CHAMPIONSHIP

Who can end Peter Kox's SPC domination? The first two rounds of the FIA European Super Production Championship demonstrated the current supremacy of Peter Kox. At the wheel of his Ravaglia Motorsport BMW 320i, the Dutchman won both the Monza and Brno rounds. He has led throughout, except for the first 100 metres of the second round, when Stefano Gabellini overtook him at the start. Although Tommy Rustad's RJN Nissan Primera and the two Bigazzi Alfa Romeo 156s of Tobia Masini and Luis Villamil showed some improvement at Brno, closing the gap in the lap times, it will be difficult for any car other than a BMW to win at Magny-Cours. The fight for the lead among the BMW drivers is likely to be fierce. Duncan Huisman, who finished second at Monza and Brno, is determined to end his countryman's winning streak, whilst Gianni Morbidelli would like a good result in order to put CiBiEmme's bad weekend in Brno behind them, the race in the Czech Republic having ended in a crash between him and his team-mate Gabellini. The third round of the SPC sees the return of Guino Kenis, who finished in ninth place at Monza, at the wheel of the third Carly Motorsport car, which is backed by BMW Belgium. Austria-based team Duller Motorsport will make its debut, with a BMW 320i.

<pre> Circuit Length : 4250 m/2.6408 miles

GT on TV : Eurosport Super Racing Weekend Monday, 30th April 2001 : 16:00 - 17:30 : Qualifying live

Tuesday 1st May 2001 08:30 - 09:45 : repeat of Monday's program 13:30 - 16:30 : Races live 24:15 - 01:15 : Race repeat

Wednesday 2nd May 2001 10:30 - 12:00 : race repeat 20:00 - 20:30 : Highlights

Thursday 3rd May 2001 11:30 - 12:00 : Highlights repeat Friday 4th May 2001 09:30 - 10:00 : Highlights, repeat

Other races Renault Formula 2000 Eurocup French FFSA GT Championship, French Caterham Challenge, French Series GT Cup

2000 Results : GT pole : 1:36.215, Philippe Favre, Lister Storm N-GT pole : 1 :39.909, Christophe Bouchut, Porsche 996 GT3-R Race : GT : Bailey/Campbell-Walter (Lister Storm) - 106 laps in 3:00.24 N-GT : Bouchut/Goueslard (Porsche 996 GT3-R) - 102 laps in 3:00:47.487

Timetable : Saturday 28.04 14.10 - 14.40 : Renault Formula 2000 Eurocup - Free Practice 1

Sunday, 29.04 08.45 - 09.15 : Renault Formula 2000 Eurocup - Free Practice 2 09.30 - 11.00 : FIA GT Championship - Free Practice 11.15 - 12.15 : French FFSA GT Championship and Cup - RACE 1 12.30 - 13.00 : Renault Formula 2000 Eurocup - Qualifying 1 13.35 - 14.10 : French FFSA Series GT Cup - RACE 1 14.25 - 15.55 : FIA GT Championship - Free Practice 2 16.20 - 17.20 : French FFSA GT Championship and Cup - RACE 2

Monday, 30.04 08.30 - 09.00 : Renault Formula 2000 Eurocup - Qualifying 2 09.15 - 09.30 : FIA European Super Production Championship - Free Practice 1 09.45 - 10.00 : FIA European Super Touring Championship - Free Practice 1 10.15 - 11.00 : FIA GT Championship - Qualifying 1 11.15 - 11.45 : FIA European Super Production Championship - Free Practice 2 12.00 - 12.30 : FIA European Super Touring Championship - Free Practice 2 14.00 - 14.30 : Renault Formula 2000 Eurocup - Race 15.00 - 15.30 : FIA European Super Production Championship - Qualifying 15.40 - 15.50 : FIA European Super Production Championship - Press Conference 16.00 - 16.30 : FIA GT Championship - Super Pole 16.30 - 16.45 : FIA GT Championship - Qualifying 16.55 - 17.05 : FIA GT Championship - Press Conference 16.55 - 17.25 : FIA European Super Touring Championship - Qualifying 17.40 - 17.50 : FIA European Super Touring Championship - Press Conference

Tuesday, 01.05 08.30 - 08.45 : FIA European Super Touring Championship -Warm Up 09.00 - 09.15 : FIA European Super Production Championship - Warm Up 09.30 - 09.45 : FIA GT Championship - Warm Up 10.30 - 11.00 : FIA European Super Touring Championship - RACE 1 11.40 - 14.40 : FIA GT Championship - RACE 15.00 - 15.10 : FIA GT Championship - Press Conference 15.08 - 15.33 : FIA European Super Touring Championship - RACE 2 15.53 - 16.28 : FIA European Super Production Championship - RACE 16.45 - 16.55 : FIA European STC / SPC - Press Conference

-GTnet

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Series General
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Fabrizio Giovanardi , Peter Kox , Jamie Campbell-Walter , Christophe Bouchut , Eric Cayrolle , Duncan Huisman , Gabriele Tarquini , Philippe Favre , Nicola Larini , Guino Kenis , Tommy Rustad , Stefano Gabellini