ETCC: Vallelunga preview

Vallelunga, the beautiful and selective track near Rome, is hosting on saturday and sunday the European Super Touring Cup's last-but-one race meeting of its maiden season. Expectations are great, because Roman motor racing fans love tin-tops ...

Vallelunga, the beautiful and selective track near Rome, is hosting on saturday and sunday the European Super Touring Cup's last-but-one race meeting of its maiden season.

Expectations are great, because Roman motor racing fans love tin-tops and they never miss the Vallelunga Touring Car Trophy, a traditional date in Italian motorsport calendar since many years.

And the meeting will be even more exciting because of the presence of two special guest stars: BTCC race winner and former F1 ace Gabriele Tarquini, who is uanimously considered among the top-gun in today's Touring Car competitions, and young Roman Fabrizio De Simone.

Tarquini, 38 from Giulianova, is one of Italian fans favourite drivers. Nice, kind and charismatic, he starred in F1 even despite never having the occasion to drive a competitive machine. Since when he switched to Touring Cars in 1992, he quickly became one of the category's biggest aces, thanks to his indomitable grit that earned him the nickname of "Wild Boar". At the wheel of Alfa Romeo and Honda machines, he has won a number of Super Touring races in Italy, Spain, Belgium, Germany and UK; he grabbed the BTCC title in 1994 and in the actual season he was one of the British title contenders, collecting three wins with his JAS Honda Accord.

De Simone, 29 from Rome, is taking over Stefano Bonello - sidelined for surgery - in the second AGS Motorsport Audi A4. A former karting world champion, De Simone was one of the most interesting talents emerged from Italian F3 in the recent years. After some F3000 seasons, he switched to Touring Cars, racing a works BMW in the Italian Super Touring Championship between 1997 and 1999. He scored a total of 5 wins to classify twice 4th and once 5th in the series. At Vallelunga he will make his debut in the Euro STC, as well as his first race of the season.

According to Euro STC's sporting regulations, both these drivers, will carry a 30-kg ballast for being newcomers to the series; Tarquini will also have 30-kg more for driving a car with parts homologated after 31 December 1999. Both will be eligible to score championship points, because their teams entered the series since the beginning.

They will find an atmosphere full of tension, after the results at Brno. Giovanardi's penalty in race-two, propelled Kox into the lead by just one point.

The two of them swapped the leadership four times and Giovanardi was keeping it since the 5th race meeting in Budapest and their duel is becoming more and more exciting.

The Alfa Romeo ace is very confident he can regain the first position at Vallelunga, a track he loves very much and where his great courage can make the difference.

The weight will play for him, as he doesn't have to carry any ballasts, while his rival got a 20-kg handicap following his results in Brno, but he as to face a new treat.

Indeed, for the first time in the season Kox will not be all alone against the rest of the field: the "Wild Boar" will be at his side ready to help him.

<pre> EURO STC, ROUNDS 17 and 18 - FACTS & FIGURES Date: September 23/24, 2000 Venue: Autodromo di Vallelunga Website: www.vallelunga.it Track: 3.222 km

Super Touring qualifying record: 1:12.709, Fabrizio Giovanardi (Alfa Romeo 156), 9 October 1999 Super Touring lap record: 1:14.060, Fabrizio Giovanardi (Alfa Romeo 156), 9 October 1999

TIMETABLE Saturday 23 08.30-08.45 Euro STC warm-up

10.55-11.40 Euro STC free practice

14.00-14.20 Euro STC qualifying session Sunday 24 09.00-09.15 Euro STC warm-up

14.00 Start of Euro STC race-one (16 laps)

10-minute pause

Start of Euro STC race-two (16 laps)

Supporting races: Italian F360 and F355 Ferrari Challenges, Alfa Romeo GTV Cup TV coverage: highlights on Eurosport

VALLELUNGA ENTRY LIST

        team    driver  car
1 Nordauto Engineering  Fabrizio Giovanardi (I)         Alfa Romeo 156 Twin Spark
2 Nordauto Engineering  Nicola Larini (I)               Alfa Romeo 156 Twin Spark
3 CiBiEmme Engineering  Emanuele Naspetti (I)           BMW 320i E36
4 CiBiEmme Engineering  Gianni Morbidelli (I)           BMW 320i E36
5 AGS Motorsport        Roberto Colciago (I)            Audi A4 Quattro
7 Nordauto Engineering  Romana Bernardoni (I)           Alfa Romeo 156 Twin Spark
8 Nordauto Engineering  Gianluca De Lorenzi (I)         Alfa Romeo 156 Twin Spark
9 Christy's Team        Massimo Pigoli (I)              BMW 320i E36
10 Christy's Team       Stefano Gabellini (I)           BMW 320i E36
11 JAS Engineering      Peter Kox (NL)                  Honda Accord R
12 Team Isert           Sandro Sardelli (I)             BMW 320i E36
14 Soli Racing Team     Moreno Soli (I)                 Alfa Romeo 156 Twin Spark
15 Nath Racing          Guido Lucchetti Cigarini (I)    Audi A4 Quattro
16 National Team Slovakia   Andrej Studenic (SK)        Audi A4 Quattro
20 Greyhound Motorsport Gianluca Roda (I)               Opel Vectra 16V
24 JAS Engineering      Gabriele Tarquini (I)           Honda Accord R
25 AGS Motorsport       Fabrizio De Simone (I)          Audi A4 Quattro

EURO STC PROVISIONAL POINTS - AFTER 16 ROUNDS OUT OF 20

Drivers 1. Peter Kox 204 pts; 2. Fabrizio Giovanardi 203; 3. Gianni Morbidelli 171; 4. Emanuele Naspetti 150; 5. Nicola Larini 138; 6. Roberto Colciago 118; 7. Gianluca De Lorenzi 104; 8. Massimo Pigoli 53; 9. Stefano Gabellini 48; 10. Andrej Studenic 24.

Teams 1. Nordauto Engineering 367 pts; 2. CiBiEmme Engineering 321; 3. JAS Engineering 204; 4. AGS Motorsport 131; 5. Christy's Team 101.

WEIGHT HANDICAPS AT VALLELUNGA 60 kg # 24 Gabriele Tarquini JAS Engineering 40 kg # 5 Roberto Colciago AGS Motorsport 30 kg # 8 Gianluca De Lorenzi Nordauto Engineering 30 kg #25 Fabrizio De Simone AGS Motorsport 20 kg # 11 Peter Kox JAS Engineering 10 kg # 3 Emanuele Naspetti Nordauto Engineering

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Series General
Drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi , Peter Kox , Emanuele Naspetti , Gianni Morbidelli , Gabriele Tarquini , Nicola Larini , Roberto Colciago , Stefano Gabellini , Gianluca Roda