ETCC: Magny Cours: Round one preview

LG Super Racing Weekend Round 1 - Magny Cours / France - 19th - 21st April 2002 FIA EUROPEAN TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP Twenty-one cars are due to take part in the 2002 season of the FIA European Touring Car Championship at Magny Cours. "I believe...

LG Super Racing Weekend
Round 1 - Magny Cours / France - 19th - 21st April 2002

FIA EUROPEAN TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP
Twenty-one cars are due to take part in the 2002 season of the FIA European Touring Car Championship at Magny Cours. "I believe this is a good result, considering that the Super 2000 technical regulations are opening a new way in touring car racing," stated Marcello Lotti, general manager of the Championship promoter KSO. "All the Manufacturers and teams had to rush to design and produce the new cars, but we have been able to put together a good number of competitors for the first race."

Five different makes of car will be competing in the FIA European Touring Car Championship : Alfa Romeo, BMW, Honda, Nissan and Volvo. Of these Manufacturers, BMW will have the largest contingent on the grid, with eight BMW 320i cars due to take part, closely followed by a group of seven Alfa Romeo 156 Gta cars. Drivers from eight different countries will be fighting for the Drivers title; the best-represented nation is Italy, with eight competitors. The grid varies in age from 46-year old Luis Villamil, from Spain, to 20-year old Tom Ferrier from Great Britain.

Only one woman will be taking part, Romana Bernardoni, who will drive a Gta Racing Team Nordauto Alfa Romeo 156 Gta. Ten of the field of 21 drivers have already claimed at least one international or national touring car title, with 2001 FIA European Super Touring Champion Fabrizio Giovanardi in the lead, having won five titles over the past five seasons. The official presentation of the Championship will take place in the Press Conference room at Magny Cours, on Friday 19th April at 18:30.

NEWS FROM THE EUROPEAN TOURING CAR TEAMS
Building up to the launch of the new season of the FIA European Touring Car Championship, the teams have been putting the final touches to their cars and presenting them to the press.

PRESENTATION OF BMW TEAM SPAIN AT JARAMA
Ravaglia Motorsport-- BMW Team Spain was officially presented to the press at the Spanish track of Jarama, which will host the fourth round of the FIA European Touring Car Championship on June 2nd. Team manager Roberto Ravaglia and the two drivers, Spaniard Jordi Gené and Italian Fabrizio De Simone, were present for the occasion, which also allowed them to continue testing for the new season. "We used our old Super Production cars, upgraded to the new Super 2000 technical specifications, as our brand new cars are still being assembled in the workshop," Ravaglia explained. Both Gené and De Simone drove, setting lap times around 1:35.

VOLVO S60 RACING TEAM IS UNVEILED
The Volvo S60 Racing Team has unveiled the car that will compete in the FIA European Touring Car Championship. The Volvo S60, which complies with the Super 2000 regulations, will be driven by Rickard Rydell and James Hanson. Rydell, from Sweden, won the British Touring Car Championship for Volvo in 1998, driving the Volvo S40. James Hanson, from Great Britain, drove for Edenbridge Racing in last season's FIA European Super Production Championship. The car has been developed by British company Prodrive, who have been working on the car since early last year, with the first prototype running in August. "We have not done as much testing and development work as we would have liked," explained Dave Benbow, the Volvo team principal with Prodrive. "Since October, the team's engineers have had to redirect their efforts towards developing a new five-speed H-gate gearbox especially for this car. However, we are confident that the car will be competitive from the start and will improve during the year." Volvo's director of Motorsport, Olle Odsell, believes that this year's Championship will be very open. "There are at least ten drivers who are capable of winning. However, it will not be until we get to the first race at Magny Cours that we will know exactly where our cars and drivers stand against the opposition."

CIBIEMME TEAM TO RUN TWO HONDA CIVIC CARS
Two Honda Civic Type-R cars will take part in the 2002 season of the FIA European Touring Car Championship. Italian team CiBiEmme, after racing BMW cars between 1991 and 2001, will be running the programme privately. However, due to the late decision to run the cars, the team will take part in the first round at Magny Cours with two Super Production Civic models while the cars complying with the new Super 2000 technical regulations are assembled at the JAS Motorsport factory. "Our goal is to run the new cars in the second round of the FIA European Touring Car Championship at Silverstone," CiBiEmme general manager Carlo Ciccione explained. "It is a great opportunity for us to race the Civics, not only because we are sure that they will be competitive, but also because we are starting a new collaboration with a major Manufacturer, with ambitions to continue and develop in the future." The drivers selected to drive the two Civic cars are Salvatore Tavano and Sandro Sardelli, both of whom raced in the FIA European Touring Car Championship in 2001.

Tavano took part in a number of rounds of the FIA European Super Production Championship in a Conrero Alfa 147, while Sardelli raced in the FIA European Super Touring Championship with a Pro Motorsport Nissan Primera, winning the trophy for best non-professional driver. Though both Sardelli and Tavano may score points towards the Drivers Championship, the CiBiEmme Honda cars will not be eligible to score points in the Manufacturers Championship. The Japanese car, which is shorter than the minimum length of 4.2 metres specified in the regulations, has received a special derogation from the FIA World Motor Sport Council to race in the 2002 Championship.

TOM FERRIER TO DRIVE AN ALFA ROMEO 156 GTA
Young British driver Tom Ferrier will be competing in the 2002 season of the FIA European Touring Car Championship with an Alfa Romeo 156 Gta entered by Italian team Dart Racing. This brand new team, which is based in Milan, has been sponsored by Italian petrol company IP. Team Director Giancarlo Bruno worked as a track engineer in Formula One, before working as technical director for JAS, for the Nissan and Honda Touring Car programmes in the German, British and European touring car Championships.

The team manager will be Tiziana Borghi, a former rally co-driver who also worked on the JAS-Honda programme. 20-year old Ferrier drove for Edenbridge Racing in the 2001 FIA European Super Production Championship. "I am so happy and excited to be able to stay in the FIA European Touring Car Championship, because I think it is the strongest touring car Championship in the world," Ferrier explained. "Just look at the names of the drivers ! I feel honoured to be on the grid amongst them. I am also happy to be driving an Alfa Romeo, because I have driven Alfa Romeo 156 and 147 cars during the past two seasons in the British Touring Car Championship, so I am already identified as an Alfa Romeo man in Britain. I had a troubled season last year, and my best result was a fifth place. Although I have not driven the new car yet, my ambitions are high for this season : I am aiming to score points in the first race, and to claim my first win later in the season."

CAYROLLE LOOKS FORWARD TO FIRST RACE
Eric Cayrolle is the only French driver to be taking part in this season's FIA European Touring Car Championship. He will be driving for Scuderia Bigazzi, in an Alfa Romeo 156 Gta, after spending the 2001 season driving a Max Team BMW 320i in the FIA European Super Touring Championship last year. "My ambition is to do better than last year, starting at Magny Cours," the three-times French Super Touring Champion explained. "I believe I have made a good choice, and on paper I have everything to be competitive : an excellent team, with a glorious tradition in touring cars, and the Alfa Romeo 156 Gta, which looks to be the car to beat after the pre-season testing. At Magny Cours, I will be aiming for a podium position !"

-etcc-

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Series General
Drivers Eric Cayrolle , Rickard Rydell , Jordi Gene , Salvatore Tavano , Roberto Ravaglia , Tom Ferrier , Marcello Lotti