Pre-season newsletter 2005-03-18

FIA WTCC NEWSLETTER 18 March 2005 32 DRIVERS ENTERED IN OFFICIAL TESTING 32 drivers and 17 teams will take part in the 2005 FIA World Touring Car Championship official testing session in Monza, on March 22 and 23. Besides those who have ...

FIA WTCC NEWSLETTER
18 March 2005

32 DRIVERS ENTERED IN OFFICIAL TESTING

32 drivers and 17 teams will take part in the 2005 FIA World Touring Car Championship official testing session in Monza, on March 22 and 23.

Besides those who have confirmed their participation in the FIA WTCC, the field will be completed by five competitors of the Italian Superturismo Championship.

Three drivers from the Swedish Touring Car Championship will also take part in the test: Tomas Engström, Jens Hellström and Slim Borgudd. Engström and Hellström have already confirmed their participation in the FIA WTCC opening race meeting.

The FIA WTCC testing will consist of six different sessions over the two days, totalling to 5 hours and 30 minutes; timekeeping will be provided by the championship's official timekeepers MST, and results will be available at www.msttiming.com.

RYDELL AND SEAT FASTEST IN MAGNY-COURS

Alfa Romeo, BMW, SEAT and Ford teams have tested for three days in Magny-Cours, from Tuesday to Thursday.

Alfa Romeo ran two cars for their four drivers: Farfus, Giovanardi, Tarquini and Thompson. "We are happy with the work done in these three days, which gave important indications. Again we have focused on the balance of the car, and our performances were excellent compared to our competitors," said Matilde Tomagnini, chief of FIAT Group sporting activities.

SEAT Sport toom part with three cars driven by Gené, Rydell and Terting. The Swede was clocked as the fastest driver over the three days 3 and 5 tenths faster than Giovanardi and Jörg Müller confirming that the French track suits very well the Toledo Cupra. All three BMW teams attended the test: BMW Team Deutschland with Dirk and Jörg Müller, BMW Team UK with Priaulx, and BMW Team Italy-Spain with Zanardi and García.

BMW Team Italy-Spain principal Roberto Ravaglia commented: "We had a few problems. First we tested a technical solution that proved to be wrong, then Zanardi's car was plagued by electrical bugs that prevented the ECU of the driving aid system from working properly."

Priaulx remained one second off Rydell's fastest lap. "It's difficult to understand where we really are now, because it's impossible to say in which configuration the different cars were running," BMW Team UK team manager Bart Mampaey declared.

At the wheel of a car which is very close to the 2005 full specifications, Jörg Müller was the fastest of the BMW drivers. Him and his BMW Team Deutschland fellow mate Dirk, tested only two days, then they moved to the Nürburgring for taking part in a long distance race on the Nordschleife with a BMW M3 GTR, in preparation of the 24 Hours. Both Ford Focus cars were also in Magny-Cours with Klenke and Jäger. "We are working so much under pressure now," Ford Motorsport manager Eberhard Braun admitted. "We were testing with the gear ratios for Monza, meaning that our drivers could not shift up to fifth. Anyway, at this stage lap times are not important to us, and we are rather focusing on the car's handling and reliability."

FORD HOTFIEL SPORT SIGN KLENKE AND JÄGER

German drivers Thomas Klenke and Thomas Jäger have been signed by Ford Hotfiel Sport. "It wasn't an easy decision," team principal Hans Hotfiel explained. "Jäger will add an all-new quality to the team, as he has a lot of experience. As for Klenke he has been with the team since long time, and has always been very quick and reliable."

Klenke, 38-year old, claimed the 2002 Deutsche Tourenwagen Challenge title with a Hotfiel Sport Ford Focus, and took part in two FIA European Touring Car Championship rounds: Oschersleben 2002 and Valencia 2004. Jäger, 27-year old, was a race winner in the German Formula 3 (he finished third in the 1999 championship) before moving to DTM in which he drove for AMG-Mercedes from 2000 to 2003.

"I am very sad for Funke and Bernhardt, who also deserved a drive. However we have planned to enter a third car from Puebla onwards, and Oschersleben, hour home race, is on 28th August, my birthday. Maybe I can make myself a birthday present by entering a fourth car there," said Hotfiel.

HENNERICI AND WIECHERS-SPORT MOVE TO WTCC

22-year old Marc Hennerici will drive a Wiechers-Sport BMW 320i. Winner of the 2003 German Alfa Cup, Hennerici moved last year to Touring Cars emerging as the best rookie in the German Produktionswagen Meisterschaft at the whell of a BMW run by Wiechers- Sport. "I'm glad to stay with the team," he said. "During the 2004 DPM and in Macau, I have experienced their trustworthiness and technical competence. I'm looking forward to take part in the most exciting Touring Car sries in the world."

FLASH NEWS

CRAWFORD RACING: Carl Rosenblad and his Crawford Racing BMW 320i also tested in Magny-Cours. "I am pleased, because I was 1.5 seconds faster than last year, despite using 70-km old tyres and still driving a 2004 car. We have made a lot of progress thanks to Steve Norris, who has joined the team as race engineer," said Rosenblad.

PROTEAM MOTORSPORT: Both Stefano D'Aste and Giuseppe Cirò took part in the Magny-Cours test. "Our technical director Renaud Dufour focused on the set up, and this enabled both drivers to lap under the 1:50 mark, which was an excellent result," team manager Samuel Francalanci said.

RS-LINE SPORT: The German team tested in Magny-Cours with one Ford Focus driven by Frank Diefenbacher and Sebastian Grunert. "It was our first test with the sequential gearbox, and we have improved by 2.3 seconds our lap times from last year. It's a shame we don't have the budget to start in Monza, but we will join during the season," team manager Rainer Stiefel declared.

THEY SAID: QUOTE OF THE WEEK

SEAT Sport director Jaime Puig: "The SEAT León Supercopa was already one of the most attractive competitions for drivers. This year, we're pleased to offer the winner the chance to race at one of the 2006 World Touring Car Championship meetings in a SEAT Sport works car. I think it's a fantastic reward!"

-fia-

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About this article
Series WTCC
Drivers Jorg Muller , Carl Rosenblad , Thomas Jäger , Frank Diefenbacher , Marc Hennerici , Stefano D'Aste , Eberhard Braun , Jens Hellstrom , Tomas Engstrom , Thomas Klenke , Giuseppe Ciro , Roberto Ravaglia , Bart Mampaey , Jaime Puig