Ed Fahey

Adventures – Saloon,Sportscar/GT racing

Archive for March, 2011

Preview – FIA GT1 World Championship

Posted by Ed Fahey on March 23, 2011

The 2011 FIA GT1 World Championship starts soon at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, so here is a quick rundown of the runners and riders along with an analysis of each team and how I rate their chances.

As with 2010 all of the races will be streamed live on the GT1 website

Maserati are absent from the 2011 season, so Vitaphone Racing will not be defending their title, which leaves 5 of the 6 ‘brands’ from 2010 present. There has also been some team changes; Matech, Vitaphone, Hegersport and Phoenix Racing will not be returning, and there are 2 new teams; Exim Bank Team China and JRM Motorsport  which are detailed below. 3 of the 5 brands are shared teams – with the teams working closely together and not ‘rivals’ as such. Also the rules stipulate there must be 4 cars per brand on the grid.

There are no new car models for 2011 either – the previously proposed Alpina B6 had to be dropped due to homologation issues, and the Lexus LF-A was a bit of an internet rumour that was blown out of all proportion when certain websites ran the ‘story’.  There will be new cars in 2012 as this is the last year of both the Aston Martin DBR9 and Corvette C6R Z06, most likely GT3 cars will be upgraded and there are plenty to choose from!

Below you will find the list, in alphabetical order of the teams and drivers of the 2011 FIA GT1 World Championship

Please note photos of certain cars may be updated over the next few days, also not all drivers will drive in every race, I have indicated this where the information is known

Aston Martin – Aston Martin DBR9

Photos – racemedia.be/Young Driver AMR

HEXIS AMR – France                                                                                                                              Young Driver AMR – Germany

3 – Clivio Piccione / Stef Dusseldorp                                                                                                                 7 – Tomas Enge / Alex Muller

4 – Christian Hohenadel / Andrea Piccini.                                                                                                      8 – Darren Turner / Stefan Mucke

The final year of the DBR9 and the only brand on the grid for 2011 with an unchanged team lineup. French team HEXIS had 3 wins in 2010, and only a constantly changing driver lineup over the rounds held them back from pushing harder at the front. Clivio Piccione returns, partnered with Dutch newcomer Stef Dusseldorp, while 2010 GT3 Europe champion Christian Hohenadel is paired with Andrea Piccini, who put in some solid performances in 2010 in both the Hexis Aston Martin and the Phoenix Corvette. Young Driver were also at the front in 2010 with 3 wins and if they had not have been disqualified at Round 2 in Silverstone they might well have taken the fight for the drivers championship to the final round, but even though Darren Turner and Tomas Enge have been split into different cars for 2011, their co-drivers are as strong, Enges co-pilot is former Vitaphone man Alex Muller, whereas Turner shares with fellow AMR factory driver Stefan Mucke. Another strong driver lineup and expect some good results here.

Chevrolet – Chevrolet Corvette C6R Z06

Photo: endurance-info.com

Exim Bank Team China – China                                             DKR Engineering – Luxembourg

11 – Mike Hezemans / Nick Catsburg(RD1 only)                                  47 – Jean-Claude Police / Laurent Cazenave

12 – TBA/TBA – car will not be at RD1                                48 – TBA/TBA – car will not be at RD1

The last year of the Z06 and for round 1 at least we only have 2 cars in the grid instead of 4. Despite taking 2 wins in 2010 the Corvettes endured a poor season – off the track as much as on it. After being fast at round 1 in 2010 the balance of performance adjustments slowed them right down at RD2 – coupled with the loss of 1 of the Phoenix cars in a fire – which didnt return until RD5 at Spa – and then this car was withdrawn ‘at its owners request’ for the rest of the season leaving Phoenix with 1 car and exclusion from scoring points for the rest of the season. The other Corvette team for 2010, Mad Croc Racing was a combination of Corvette teams Selleslagh Racing Team and DKR Engineering which had a mixed season, which apart from the final round at Argentina was a consistent season with points, and running at the best of your abilities when your drivers have more money than talent, and when sponsorship deals fall through leaving you unable to race – as neither Mad Croc car made the track at Argentina.

Moving onto 2011, Phoenix have gone but Selleslagh (running as Exim Bank Team China) and DKR remain – with for the moment, 1 car apiece. The rules require 4 cars per brand, but it has been said for future rounds that both teams will acquire an extra car – with only 8 C6R Z06’s built and 3 of the remaining 6 being unavailable it will be interesting to see what happens.

Longterm Corvette driver Mike Hezemans returns to the Exim car with former Megane trophy driver and fellow Dutchman Nick Catsburg, while French GT pairing Jean-Claude Police and Laurent Cazenave share the DKR car, with the Exim car having a slightly stronger pairing, but both should mount a challenge. Lets hope there are 4 Corvettes ontrack at some point in 2011 – which only happened at Abu Dhabi,Silverstone and Spa in 2010.

Ford – Ford GT Matech

Photos – Belgian Racing/Marc VDS Racing

Belgian Racing – Belgium                                                                                                               Marc VDS Racing – Belgium

9 – Antoine Leclerc / Vanina Ickx (Rounds 1-2 only)                                                       40 Bas Leinders / Marc Hennerici

10 – Martin Matzke / Milos Pavlovic                                                                                         41 Frederic Makowiecki / Maxime Martin

The distinctive Ford GT’s return for their second full season and without the Swiss Matech team who had originally conceived and developed them which has closed down. The newly formed  Belgian Racing have taken over the Matech cars and will be closely working with Marc VDS racing to run their cars during the season. Matech took 2 wins during 2010 and hopefully these cars will be at a competitive level in 2011.

Despite the name of the team, Belgian Racing are only fielding 1 Belgian driver so far and the only female driver on the grid to boot – Vanina Ickx, daughter of sportscar legend Jacky. Vanina has tried a diverse range of 4 wheeled motorsport, so only logical she gives GT1 a go, she is paired with French GT driver Antoine Leclerc who moves up to GT1 after GT3 and French GT. Serbian single seater graduate Milos Pavlovic is paired with GT3 driver Martin Matzke to complete the newest team on the grid.  Marc VDS enter their second full GT1 season with team manager/driver Bas Leinders sharing with Marc Hennerici who had some good runs with the Phoenix Corvette,while over in the second car Frederic Makowiecki, who moves across from Hexis AMR is paired with Maxime Martin who keeps his seat from last year

Lamborghini – Lamborghini Murcielago LP670 R-SV

Photos – endurance-info.com / Ed Fahey

Swiss Racing Team – Switzerland                                                 All-Inkl.com Münnich Motorsport – Germany

5 – Karl Wendlinger/Peter Cox                                                     37 – Marc Basseng  / Markus Winkelhock

6 – Max Nilsson/Jiri Janak                                                             38 – Dominik Schwager / Nicky Pastorelli

The Italian bulls return for 2011, Swiss Racing Team take over the Reiter engineering cars from 2010 after their forgettable season running Nissan GTR’s, so hopefully if how the Reiter cars ran in 2010, especially in the latter half of the 2010 season is repeated this year they will have a season to remember rather than forget. The most sucessful FIA GT driver of them all, Karl Wendlinger is paired with ex-Reiter driver Peter Cox, which makes for one of the stronger pairings on the grid. Max Nilsson stays on with the team for 2011 and is joined by Czech Jiri Janak. The only way is up for Swiss Racing in 2011. All-Inkl/Munnich Motorsport return with Marcus Winklehock being the only new driver in the team, sharing with team manager/driver Marc Basseng. Nicky Pastorelli and Dominik Schwager return for 2011, another pair of drivers who are also doing a ALMS campaign, but unlike the others they are in the same car in ALMS. All-Inkl had podium finishes in 2010 so the Lambos should provide a spectacle in 2011.

Nissan – Nissan GT-R (R35)

Photos – racemedia.be / Rich Sams

Sumo Power GT – United Kingdom                                                  JR Motorsport – United Kingdom

20 – David Brabham / Jamie Campbell-Walter                                                                            22 – Michael Krumm / Lucas Luhr

21 – Enrique Bernoldi / Ricardo Zonta                                                                                     23 – Peter Dumbreck / Richard Westbrook

Nissan had a very 90/10 season in 2010 as opposed to 50/50 – Sumo Power GT were at the front and winning whereas Swiss Racing Team were at the back. This has been resolved somewhat with all 4 Nissans now being run by the same ‘team’ both Sumo Power and JR being owned by the JRM Group, so resources and information can be shared, as this team has former Ferrari F1 man Nigel Stepney as technical director.

Regarding drivers it cannot be argued that Nissan have the strongest lineup on the grid – twice ALMS Champion and a man with plenty of GT/Sportscar experience over the years David Brabham, dovetailing a ALMS season with GT1 paired with the always impressive and 2000 FIA GT Champion Jamie Campbell-Walter. Former Vitaphone and F1 driver Enrique Bernoldi joins ex Reiter, and 1998 FIA GT champion Ricardo Zonta in an all Brazilian lineup, while at JRM, Nissan stalwart and former Super GT champion Michael Krumm is joined by fellow German Lucas Luhr, who will be juggling a GT1, ALMS and VLN racing programme in 2011, while driving the other car are Peter Dumbreck, another consistent pilot and Richard Westbrook who put in some fantastic performances at the wheel of the Matech Ford GT in 2010, Westbrook is another to be doing selected ALMS rounds in 2011. These 4 cars would be the favourites on paper.

Pre-Season Verdict

With the previously dominant Maseratis gone it will be a difficult season to call, at least initially. Each car brand won at least 2 races in 2010 so when the BOP adjustments are complete it should provide a spectacle, particular when success ballast is ‘rewarded’. Being consistent will be more important than a handful of wins, but of course scoring as many points as possible is what is needed to win the championship.  Initially I feel Young Driver AMR and Sumo Power/JRM will be at the front with the Marc VDS Ford GT’s being the ones who could spring a surprise. If the car is running well Swiss Racing Team will be another to watch along with the Corvette teams, but given it is a brand new season with tried and tested (and proven) cars, it will be anyones game in 2011.

Race Dates:

26/03/11 Yas Marina
10/04/11 Zolder
08/05/11 Algarve
15/05/11 Sachsenring
05/06/11 Silverstone
03/07/11 Navarra
17/07/11 Paul Ricard
04/09/11 Ordos
23/10/11 Curitiba
06/11/11 San Luis

GT1 TV : www.gt1world.com

Spotters Guide: http://spotterguides.com/fia-gt1-2011-guide

© Ed Fahey 2011

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New – Car Features section

Posted by Ed Fahey on March 21, 2011

New for the site is a car features section, and I begin with a car rather dear to my heart – click  here

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