ETCC: Silverstone: Final race report

Fia European Touring Car Championship Rounds 3 & 4 Silverstone (GBR) After winning both rounds at Magny Cours, it was another Alfa Romeo day at Silverstone. Fabrizio Giovanardi and Nicola Larini managed to win one race apiece, consolidating...

Fia European Touring Car Championship
Rounds 3 & 4
Silverstone (GBR)

After winning both rounds at Magny Cours, it was another Alfa Romeo day at Silverstone. Fabrizio Giovanardi and Nicola Larini managed to win one race apiece, consolidating their first and second positions in the championship classifications. But the races were far from easy for them, as the BMW cars driven by Jörg and Dirk Müller, as well as Rickard Rydell's Volvo, were able to keep on the pace of the Alfa Romeo men, and fought hard to beat them. After today's races, Giovanardi still leads the championship with 36 points; he has an eight point lead over Larini, while Rydell is now on equal points with Dirk Müller in third position (13).

WEATHER: overcast and cold.

RACE ONE: LARINI WINS AFTER A TOUGH BATTLE

Start: James Hanson's Volvo does not appear on the grid, as the team are still struggling to solve an electrical problem which has affected the car since the morning warm-up.

Both the Alfa 156 Gta cars of Giovanardi and Larini, which are on the front row, make a bad start; Rydell's Volvo S60 jumps into the lead, followed by Jörg Müller's BMW 320i.

Lap 1: Ferrier is punted into a spin at Club corner; his Alfa 156 Gta slides across the track and is hit by the BMW cars driven by Kox and Gene. All the three drivers are out of the race, while Ekblom slips back to avoid the crash. In a similar manoeuvre Rustad drives over the grass, breaking the front splitter of his Nissan. Giovanardi overtakes Jörg Müller at Woodcote for second.

Lap 2: Rydell is able to pull out a lead, while Giovanardi, Larini and the two Müllers fight hard behind him. Cayrolle overtakes Morbidelli for eighth. At the Abbey chicane Jörg Müller locks his brakes and Larini passes by; but at the next corner the Italian driver goes wide and both the Müllers manage to overtake him.

Lap 3: Giovanardi pulls out from the Müllers and closes on Rydell. Jörg Müller is under attack from his team mate Dirk Müller, while Larini's Alfa is still stuck behind the two BMWs.

Lap 4: Giovanardi puts the pressure on Rydell; he tries to pass at Bridge, but the Swede shuts the door. At Luffield Giovanardi locks his brakes and goes wide; he loses contact with Rydell and has the Müllers on his tail. Cayrolle overtakes Coronel for seventh.

Lap 5: After several tries Dirk Müller manages to pass Jörg Müller, moving up to third position right behind Giovanardi. Rustad overtakes Morbidelli for ninth.

Lap 6: The first five cars are running within two seconds. Larini passes Jörg Müller at Stowe for fourth position. Giovanardi is again on Rydell's tail. Villamil overtakes Morbidelli for tenth.

Lap 7: Rydell fights hard to defend his leadership; Dirk Müller benefits from the situation and closes on Giovanardi again. From the back of the field Rustad (despite the broken splitter) and Ekblom are climbing back up the field. At the end of the lap Rydell misses a gear and slips from first to fifth; Giovanardi is the new leader, chased by Dirk Müller.

Lap 8: Morbidelli comes into the pits claiming handling problems. Dirk Müller is seriously threatening Giovanardi's lead. At Abbey the German dives up the inside, but Giovanardi does not open the door. The cars clash door-to-door and Larini slips through to take the lead. Giovanardi manages to maintain second position, while Dirk Müller finds himself fourth behind Jörg Müller.

Lap 9: Rydell claims fourth position from Dirk Müller. Villamil and Ekblom pass Rustad for ninth and tenth respectively. Larini increases his margin to two seconds.

Lap 10: Cayrolle attacks Ruberti for sixth. Larini scores his first win of the season, from Giovanardi, Jörg Müller, Rydell and Dirk Müller. Ruberti manages to maintai sixth position beating Cayrolle on the line by a very narrow margin.

Final positions: 2 - 1 - 42 - 60 - 43 - 14 - 16 - 7 - 11 - 15

RACE TWO: GIOVANARDI WINS, RYDELL CLAIMS FIRST PODIUM FOR VOLVO

Between the two races the RJN Motorsport crew manages to replace the front splitter on Rustad's car. Three cars were too badly damaged in the first race accident and could not be repaired: Ferrier's Alfa and the BMWs of Gené and Kox. In the Prodrive garage mechanics are still working to solve the electrical problems on Hanson's Volvo. Morbidelli's BMW is also missing from the starting grid, which, due to the reversed top six position - has Ruberti on pole position.

Start: Dirk Müller makes the best start from the outside of row one. The fight for position is tough with Jörg Müller and Ruberti clashing at the first corner. Ruberti manages to rejoin the race in sixth position, while Müller finds himself at the back of the field.

Lap 1: Giovanardi overtakes Coronel for third position, while Rydell attacks Dirk Müller's lead. Coronel tries to regain his third place, but Giovanardi resists and they clash doors. In the middle of the field Rustad's Nissan collides with Tavano's Honda and spins into the gravel trap.

Lap 2: Rydell is right behind Dirk Müller's car, but Giovanardi is close behind them both. Larini overtakes Coronel for fourth. Giovanardi dives inside Rydell at Bridge and jumps into second, but immediately the Swede regains the position. Coronel and Ruberti collide while fighting for fifth place with the Dutchman off the race after crashing into the wall. De Simone and Ekblom benefit of the accident to climb to fifth and sixth respectively. Villamil overtakes Cayrolle for tenth.

Lap 3: At Abbey, Giovanardi manages to pass Rydell for second and receives a warning flag for his clash with Coronel on the previous lap. Ekblom overtakes De Simone for fifth, Ruberti is seventh, right behind them. After the first lap accident Jörg Müller is on his way to recover and overtakes Cayrolle for ninth.

Lap 4: Dirk Müller and Giovanardi are nose-to-tail; Larini passes Rydell for third. Ruberti and Villamil pass De Simone moving up to sixth and seventh respectively.

Lap 5: Giovanardi overtakes Dirk Müller at Copse to take the lead. The German's second position is threatened by Larini. Jörg Müller passes De Simone for eighth.

Lap 6: Larini is putting pressure on Dirk Müller.

Lap 7: Larini overtakes Dirk Müller for second at Copse. Rydell now threatens Müller's third place.

Lap 8: Larini closes the gap on Giovanardi; Ruberti takes fifth position from Ekblom.

Lap 9: Rydell manages to obtain third position overtaking Dirk Müller at Club. Cayrolle retires from tenth due to a gearbox failure. Tavano's Honda Civic makes the top-ten.

Lap 10: Giovanardi scores his third win of the season with a 0.4-second margin over Larini. Rydell gives Volvo its first podium results in the championship, followed by Dirk Müller, Ruberti and Ekblom

Final positions: 1 - 2 - 60 - 43 - 14 - 10 - 15 - 42 - 6 - 18

RACE QUOTES

Nicola Larini (ITA) -- nr 2GTA Racing Team Nordauto : "I made a very bad start in the first race, and my team-mate did as well, so we both lost positions. I was in third place, and there was some oil on the other side of the track, so I lost control of the car and nearly spun off. I saw that Giovanardi was having a good battle with a BMW, and thought it might help me out. I managed to overtake them both with no problems and carried on for the win. I realised today that the BMW cars were harder to overtake than during the previous race, and usually this is not a difficult track to overtake on. In the second race, I had a similar problem at the start. No-one wanted to lose any positions. Fabrizio was at the same level as me, and it was impossible to try and overtake him. I closed the gap, but my car was slower for the last two laps and he won."

Fabrizio Giovanardi (ITA) -- nr 1 GTA Racing Team Nordauto : "It was a tough day today. For the moment, I am still at the top of the Championship, but I will have to be careful as I saw some very fast Volvo and BMW cars out on the circuit today. But I think it is good for everyone to have good fights like that. My car was fantastic and it is very good to have finished in second and first places after two fantastic, hard, real touring car races. However, I must admit I was worried, as I had to push really hard or risk losing the race. The competition is much tougher than at Magny Cours, and it was difficult to stay in front of the other cars.

Jörg Müller (GER) -- nr 42 BMW Team Deutschland : "I have to say that I really enjoyed racing in the ETCC today, but I am not yet where I want to be. I am still in endurance mode and I think I am leaving the doors open too much. If Giovanardi says that he saw some fast BMW cars, I have to say that we have seen some very fast Alfas. I really enjoyed the race, and it was good fun, but I still have to adapt. At the first corner in the first race, I was hit in the rear by Ruberti. It was a racing accident; we came together and spun off. I tried to recover, but it is difficult to overtake these cars. I don't think the cars have really improved since Magny Cours, but this circuit is better for the BMW cars. But we are working hard and hope to make a small step before Brno and a bit step for Sweden."

Rickard Rydell (SWE) -- nr 60 Volvo S60 : "In the first race, the Alfa cars were definitely quicker, especially on the straights. Perhaps I should have let Giovanardi go and concentrate on finishing second. However, I then had a problem getting a gear in, which was really bad luck. However, I did manage to get the fastest lap of the race. The second race was tough too. We are really happy with the car; the balance is really good. Here, there are a lot of fast corners where good handling shows, and we were not too disadvantaged in the slow corners. I think we can find a bit more time in the car and in the engine."

Paolo Ruberti (ITA) -- nr 14 AGS MotorSport : "I enjoyed both races very much; I had some brake problems in the first race, but between the two races the team managed to sort them out, so the car was really perfect in the second race. Race 2 was very tough, and I clashed with Jörg Müller on the first corner and with Tom Coronel on the second lap. I was lucky because the car was not damaged in either collision, but of course I lost touch with the top drivers. It was a shame because looking at the lap times I set during the second race, I think I could have achieved a podium position. I will try to get on the podium at the next event, but the problem is that the races are so short that the main problem is to survive the fight after the start."

-fia-

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Series General
Drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi , Dirk Müller , Tom Coronel , Jorg Muller , Rickard Rydell , Paolo Ruberti , Nicola Larini