Pergusa - 22 September 2002 The European Touring Car Championship has been back on track in Italy today for the first race since the seven week summer break. Situated near the town of Enna in central Sicily, the 4.950 km circuit encircles a ...
Pergusa - 22 September 2002
The European Touring Car Championship has been back on track in Italy today for the first race since the seven week summer break. Situated near the town of Enna in central Sicily, the 4.950 km circuit encircles a volcanic lake, and is almost an oval, with added chicanes. The track has a long history of hosting international motorsport. The team presented Rickard with a Volvo S60 cake to celebrate his 35th birthday here today.
At a circuit not ideally suited to the car, the team made gear ratio changes to try to get the best out of the car for qualifying. James slashed his time from the morning's practice sessions whilst Rickard was pushing hard on his out-lap and crashed out of the session meaning a start from the back of the grid.
<pre> Race 1 Rickard Rydell No. 60 Grid: 19th Finish: 10th James Hanson No. 61 Grid: 12th Finish: DNF </pre>
Rydell made one of his charges from the back of the pack, winning seven places in the first lap. Both Hanson and Rydell then passed Cayrolle in the BMW putting the Volvos in 10th and 11th. All was going well until lap six when Hanson sustained terminal suspension damage from the severe kerbs at a chicane. Rydell held his 10th position to the chequered flag.
<pre> Race 2 Rickard Rydell No. 60 Grid: 10th Finish: 11th James Hanson No. 61 No start </pre>
The race was dominated by the battling Alfas and BMWs leaving the solo Volvo rather outnumbered. Speed was again a problem for Rydell who valiantly battled to regain places lost at the beginning of the race to faster Alfas.
"This circuit is all about speed and we know that our advantage over the field is handling so it was going to be a struggle here. The highlight of the weekend for me was the first lap of race one. I took every opportunity and won."
"If you don't want to be overtaken here you have to take risks across the kerbs. It's the only way to make up time when we haven't got fast corners that suit the car. I was trying to make it go as fast as I could. The car launched on the first kerb into the chicane and then landed hard on the second. I just didn't want to be beaten."
Olle Odsell, Volvo motorsport director:
"This was definitely not a performance up to the standards we set ourselves. Pergusa has been a big challenge for us but I'm confident that for the remaining two rounds we will be back to scoring points."
Hugh Chambers, Marketing Director, Prodrive:
"The Volvo excels at circuits that needs good handling cars. We don't have the strongest engine in the field and power is a premium at this circuit. With seven chicanes effectively it's seven drag race strips."
Dave Benbow, Volvo S60 Racing team manager:
"Basically we needed to be able to go faster in a straight line here. We prepared as best we could but with no corners to speak of we were expecting to have a tough time here - but perhaps not this tough. The successful developments that we have made during the break have been primarily handling related. Hopefully with them we'll put on a better show at Donington where the circuit suits cars like the S60 that handle well much better than here."
The next (penultimate) ETCC event takes place at Donington Park in the UK on 5th and 6th October.