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Archive for April, 2007

Reigning Formula Palmer Audi Champion Jon Barnes has secured a drive in the 2007 FIA GT3 Championship with the front-running Damax team. Twenty-three year-old Barnes, who took a podium finish in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB last month, will partner Jimmy Brodie in an Ascari KZ1R in the six-round championship which kicks off with the prestigious Tourist Trophy at Silverstone next weekend.

“I’m absolutely delighted to be running with a team of such high pedigree. The Damax team has been running for many years and has enjoyed considerable success in British and European racing and I’m looking forward to working with Robin (Ward) and the rest of the Damax team as we work towards race wins and hopefully the GT3 title.

“I had a brief run in the car two weeks ago and it was brilliant. It’s so predictable to drive and I immediately felt very confident in it. This deal has come together very late, so there are a lot of unknowns at this stage. There’ll be a 45 car grid at Silverstone, with a lot of very quick drivers out there, but we will still be aiming for at least a top ten finish.”

The FIA GT3 Championship is open to non-professionals only and all drivers have now been classified by the GT Bureau of the FIA into Gold, Silver and Bronze categories. Despite Jon’s relative inexperience in racing at International level, he has been classified as a Gold driver, which means he can only share a car with a Bronze category driver.

For the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver Finalist, who has only had 15 laps in the Ascari so far, Thursday will see him take part in a shakedown test at Donington Park before embarking on his GT debut on Silverstone’s Grand Prix circuit on May 5/6.

Damax team owner Robin Ward was equally pleased with the announcement. “I’m delighted to have Jon on board as part of our team’s bid for the 2007 FIA GT3 Championship. Last year he showed a great deal of potential in FPA and earlier this year in F3 testing and in the Porsche Carrera Cup. I have no doubt that in 2007 we will be race winners with the Damax developed Ascari GT3, and I’m sure Jon will be a major part of our success.”

Next weekend’s Tourist Trophy event at Silverstone will kick off with two one-hour free practice sessions on Friday at 10.45 and 15.30, before qualifying at 10.35 on Saturday. The first one-hour race is scheduled to take place at 15.15 that afternoon with the second race at 14.45 on Sunday.

Rodolfo AvilaLast week Macanese budding racing star Rodolfo Avila completed his first test of the International Formula Master (IFM) season 2007 at Monza, Italy. The Macau SAR driver hadn’t accomplished many laps at the wheel of the brand new Formula S2000 race car but he was well impressed with the car and the teamwork.

“The car is very nice to drive and easier to control compared to the Formula 3. We had a very limited track time due to technical problems with the gearbox. I believe the championship could be very good as soon as they solve the technical problems in the car and develop the data logging system”, said the Macanese driver who is supported this year by Macau Government,, BNU, CESLAsia, PAL AsiaConsult, TsingTao, Fat Siu Lau Restaurant, Sujika Crafts and PT Asia.

This first series’ shakedown was a “one car per team” test so Avila had to share his Tatuus-Mader Honda (Formula S2000) with his two team-mates during the two days. The track time wasn’t what the Macau SAR driver expected but it was enough to take the first conclusions.

“I had never been in Monza before so I wasn’t expecting good times. Anyway I hadn’t a single chance to go for a time. Apart from the car problems this test was fine because I get to know everyone before the first race. I’m confident as I feel my team (Cram Competition) has conditions to fight for the top positions. In the fact we just need more time in the car”, Avila held.

The first round of IFM will be on 19 May at Valencia, Spain, but Rodolfo Avila and his team are planning a shakedown in Italy before.

Prema PowerteamA contrasting weekend for the Prema Power team in the first round of the F.Renault 2.0 Eurocup. Henki Waldschmidt claimed second in race 2 after a good start from the second row of the grid. Midway through the race the Dutch driver was overtaken by Charles Pic under yellow flags, which led to the French driver receiving a drive through penalty, allowing Waldschmidt to re-take his deserved second place at the flag. unfortunately the celebrations for the third place achieved in race one were cut short when Henkie’s car was deemed illegal in scrutineering for a small technical infringement. A small strip of rubber inserted in between the front floor tray and the monocoque to prevent the floor tray from rubbing against the monocoque was the offending item. A complicated weekend for Andrea Caldarelli and Martin Plowman, problems in qualifying compromised their weekend. Despite this, both drivers had excellent starts in race one with Martin finishing lap 1 in 14th making up 8 places on the opening lap!, with Andrea close behind after moving up 4 places. After bravely fighting their way to verge of the points zone, both drivers were unfortunately caught up in the same incident close to the end, resulting in their retirement from the race.

In race 2 another good start by Martin saw him up move up 2 places to 13th but his hopes of stealing his first points of the year were dashed when he was hit from behind on lap 3 while fighting for 12th. Andrea drove a solid race from 16th up to 12th, only for an incident on the last lap saw him drop down to 15th at the flag.

a-good-start-to-the-f3-seasonThe opening round of the F3 Euroseries at Hockenheim got off to a good start for the Prema powerteam, confirming their hopes after strong winter testing. Prema’s Dutch driver, Renger van der Zande claimed a brilliant 4th place in qualifying which he converted into a hard fought 4th in the first race after exciting duels between the drivers at the top, gaining valuable points for both team and driver.

For race two disaster struck when debris punctured the 21 year old’s radiator on the formation lap, causing him to lose oil. Hockenheim was also a positive weekend for Michael Patrizi, who grew stronger as the weekend wore on. After a cautious start on Saturday Michael fought his way through to 16th place at the flag, while on Sunday he came home in 14th beating many more experienced drivers in the class.

Angelo Rosin – Team Principal:
“I always believed in our ability to fight at the front of this difficult c hampionship, and the outcome of the start to the season is quite positive. Both of our drivers gave good accounts of themselves. As I’ve said before, the level of competition is very high this year, with many of the big manufacturers using this championship as a testing ground for their young protègès. For the next round, our aim is to confirm our level of performance and to continue progressing forward and improving step by step.”

Michael MoyersMichael Moyers made his long awaited comeback in the UK Formula BMW Championship at the weekend and wasted no time in demonstrating his ability.

Moyers, 22, raced for series newcomers Hyperion Motorsport in Rounds 3 and 4 of the championship at the Rockingham Motor Speedway on Sunday, his first Formula BMW appearance since showing great promise driving for Team Filsell at Croft last July.

On Saturday, Silverstone-based Moyers had out-qualified Valle Makela, the Finnish former World Touring Car driver who had won Round One of the Championship at Brands Hatch three weeks ago, for the first of Sunday’s two races. In doing so, he claimed 12th position on the grid, just behind the likes of title contenders Kimiya Sato and Jonathan Legris. Even then, that position was deceptive in that there was just 0.244 seconds between 8th and 12th places on the grid and Moyers was just seven tenths of a second off of the pole position laptime of 1:20.286. Considering that he had participated in just one test over the winter – compared to the dozens that many of his competitors had – and that it was Hyperion’s first outing in Formula BMW, the fact that he was so close to the pace was a great credit to both team and driver. Moyers qualified P13 for Race 2, this time just behind Makela, the Australian Sam Abay and Colombian Carlos Huertas.

Round Three of the Championship was the first race of Sunday’s timetable and saw Moyers finish 13th of 18 as he struggled with rear grip towards the end of the race and lost a place to Jonathan Legris in the closing stages. Round Four was again a P13 finish as Moyers battled bravely throughout, lapping consistently but without being able to get the tow from the quartet in front of him to make a challenge. Moyers had been out of action for some time due to budgetary problems, but thanks to support from Building Services Design, a firm of consulting engineers from nearby Corby and Westhall Estates, the Aylesbury-based commercial property developer, he was able to make a successful return to competition. He said “I’m extremely grateful to both BSD and Westhall for their support this weekend and I hope that my performances on the track, combined with the great hospitality that they were able to offer to their clients off of it means that they will have got some great brand exposure and goodwill and will see a healthy return on their investment”. Karbon Racing, Michael’s sponsorship and marketing agency, recently announced that the two sponsors had already benefited from their relationship with him as they had signed an agreement to work together on a new joint venture.

Hyperion, who were British and European Caterham Superlight Champions in 2007 and are the World’s most successful single-make race team, decided to make the switch to single-seaters at the end of last season and their Team Manager, Steve Hindle, was quick to spot Moyer’s ability. After the Rockingham races, he said “Michael really showed his talent this weekend and getting himself so close to the pace so quickly is really pleasing. It was our first race in Formula BMW as a team and so to have no performance or reliability issues at all was also hugely satisfying. There is more to come from both Michael and the car and our experiences at Rockingham have really whetted our appetite and we can’t wait to show what we can do later in the season after a bit of testing and some more seat-time for Mike”.

Prema PowerteamThe first round of the World Series by Renault was not what Prema had been hoping for on the Milanese circuit of Monza. The team from Vicenza didn’t achieve the results that they had been looking for. Ben Hanley struggled with set-up problems that prevented him from showing his potential in qualifying. In the first race, the English driver from Renault Drivers developement program suffered gearbox failure. In the second race, eager to finish on a high, produced a determined drive that saw him recover from the 13th row of the grid to 9th place at the flag.

Xavier Maassen on his debut in the class, unfortunately had to retire from race one, while on Sunday he finished 17th.

Angelo Rosin- Team Principal:
“I’ve always said that the World series by Renault is a very difficult category in which you can never let your guard drop. Especially this year, that sees top class drivers entered into the championship and teams that are ever more experienced. There are 15 teams who all have the chance to win. We arrived at Monza and unfortunately were unable to find the right compromise in set-up with Hanley. Maassen needed to gain experiance but unfortunately he didn’t complete many miles in race 1, but saw the end of race 2 which is crucial for his acclimatisation with the car.”

Anders KrohnAfter just returning home from the Netherlands and Circuit Park Zandvoort, there was nothing but smiles around Anders Krohn and his debut races in the Dutch and Benelux Formula Ford Championships. The Norwegian managed to notch up two great 3rd places. ”This was the dream opening for me, first races in Formula-cars and already on the podium!”

On Saturday April 7th the timed-practice was held, as well as race 1. Krohn was a bit unfortunate during qualifying with traction-problems meaning he had qualified 6th for race 1 and 4th for race 2. Race 1 was not to be the greatest race, as gear-problems emerged in the start and Krohn fell down to 13th place, only to regain terrain and finish 9th.

On Monday April 9th, Race 2 and Race 3 were held. Race 2 start went better this time off, but falling down to a 5th place, only to capture 4th by the end of lap 2. The first half of the race, Krohn had problems finding grip and struggled to keep up with the leading trio. After some laps, Krohn caught up with the 3rd positioned driver and did a brave move to take 3rd place. ”Coming out on the straight, the guy in front was trying to fend me off, so I decided to stay on the outside for turn one which is a hairpin called ”Tarzan”. I decided to brake real late into the corner, and thereby managed to snatch 3rd place in a hairy way.” Krohn smiles. From there on, Krohn was pushed hard, but just managed to finish 3rd. What a start to the debut season in Formula Ford.

Race 3 start went bad for Krohn as the Gear-problems emerged once again. But Anders`pace was very high, and after falling back to 7th in the start, was right up there with the leaders after two laps. ”I was really on the move, and just as I had catched up with the leaders, my team mate Henk Vuik got a hole in his radiator causing cooling-fluid to hit my tires. >From there on and in it was like driving on ice.” Krohn remembers. Henk Vuik later retired from the race. Anders Krohn just managed to hold on to 3rd place, finishing 0.061 sec in front of 4th place.

”All in all I am more happy than I thought possible. To come down here and get on the podium right away was just great! I didn`t expect it to come this soon, but most things have been working out very well. Next race we will be seeking even further perfection, and hopefully improve our results even more.” Krohn points out that the close work with the team was the key to the results, and would like to thank Vuik Racing so much for their efforts during this weekend.

Already on Friday April 13th, Anders will be on his way to the Netherlands again for more testing before the next races which will again be held at Circuit Park Zandvoort and the dates being May 26-28. ”I just cannot wait until the continuation of this season. We have kicked it off in a great way, and hope to make it even greater.” Anders Krohn ends.

The countdown to Monza has begun! The first round of the World Series by Renault is finally at our door step. Monza will see Prema’s drivers Ben Hanley, who is part of Renault’s driver development program and Xavier Maasen, who will make his debut in the class. The weekend officially starts on Thursday 12 April with a day of free practice. The Vicenza based team is heading to Monza full of hope after an encouraging winter test program. Hanley, who will take part in his second year in the World Series by Renault, doesn’t hide his aspirations of winning this year while Maasen will be intent on showing his ability in his first year in the series.

With the whole team raring to go, the work starts on Thursday with Official Practice, then on Friday the cars take to the track from 10am till 10:45 for free practice with Qualifying on Saturday morning from 9:00 till 9:45, race one takes place that after noon at 15:10. The weekend comes to a close on Sunday at 11:30 with race two.

Angelo Rosin – Team Principal: “The eve of any championship is a very intense moment. The team has worked extremely hard in preparation for this year. With the World Series, we are talking about a championship of the highest calibre that asks for a lot of concentration where nothing can be left to chance. We are hopeful, as always, to be amongst the front runners, but we are well aware that the other 14 teams present are fully loaded to have a good showing. I predict an extremely hard fought championship, but for now we wait for the flag to drop and wait for the answers from the stopwatch, that really matter.”

Super GTRound 2 of SUPER GT was held at the circuit made famous for hosting a couple of Formula One races, the Pacific GP events in 1994 and 1995. Then called TI Circuit, it is now known as Okayama International Circuit. A technical track of 3.7 kilometres, it features two straights, one long the other short. With its range of variable radius corners it is overall, a compact circuit. Other elements include an elevation change of some 29 metres, and the fact that it is a track with few passing points.

Saturday, April 7th:
The two Official Qualifying sessions were held in cloudy weather, temperatures hovering around the 12-13 degree Celsius mark for the first session. After coming home 3rd in the opening round of the season, a 25-kg ‘weight-handi’ was added to Loic Duval’s #32 EPSON NSX. Pushing the machine to its best time, Duval was 6th quickest overall in the first session (1:23.528), guaranteeing him a berth in the afternoon’s Super Lap shoot-out.

On the other hand, the #39 DENSO SARD SC430, in the hands of qualifier Andre Couto, suffered from set-up problems and wound up 13th in the morning. “The understeer was so bad it just wasn’t possible to push. It’s disappointing that we aren’t able to fight in Super Lap. Tomorrow we’ll be aiming to take as many points as possible.” commented Couto after the session.

In the afternoon’s Super Lap session, the top 10 machines from the GT500 class battled each other for the final grid positions. Loic marked a time of 1:23.641, a little off his best from the morning. This, coupled with the fact that others may have improved on their morning times, seemed set to see the car lower in the rankings. It was however, the opposite, Loic gaining two positions to line up fourth.

“We’re lucky to be in this position, and I’m very happy with this qualifying result. If we make a good start tomorrow, we could be in with a shot at the win. To our fans, my teammate Fabio (Carbone) and all our supporters, we’ll be pushing hard tomorrow and appreciate your support.”

Sunday, April 8th:
The race got underway at 14:00 in cloudy conditions and temperatures of 18 degrees. With a track temperature measured at 25 Celsius, the 16 GT500 and 25 GT300 cars began their 82-lap assault on the checkered flag.

Starting from the 2nd row on the grid, the EPSON-liveried #32 NSX was caught up in the confusion at the front immediately following the start, and Loic was forced to drop one position. By lap 12, he had regained the spot and was back in fourth place. From there, he drove a patient stint, handing the car over to his driver partner Fabio Carbone on lap 35.

After the routine stop, Carbone returned to the track in 3rd position. He was then exposed to attack from behind and had to fend off the #22 car (Motul Autech Z), for over 10 thrilling laps. However, on lap 51 his rival got past and the #32 car crossed the line in 4th place.

Loic Duval:
“The start wasn’t all that great. In my attempt to avoid two cars in front, I let one other car slip by. Also, I couldn’t get heat into the front tyres, and the car suffered from understeer throughout the early part of the race. Other competitors were also fast, and though it’s unfortunate the #22 got by us during Fabio’s stint, I’m pleased to be taking home the points for 4th place.”

In addition, Andre Couto, starting driver for the #39 DENSO SARD SC430, jumped from his grid position of 13th up to 9th on the opening lap! On lap 11, a penalty for two cars in front elevated the car to 7th. Two laps later however, a pass dropped the car to 8th place. From that point, despite some gutsy moves Andre was unable to improve on this position, handing the car over to driver partner Katsuyuki Hiranaka on lap 35 during their routine stop. The #39 car would cross the line in 12th position after 82 laps of racing. Though no Driver points were accrued, two Team points were the reward to TOYOTA TEAM SARD for their drivers’ efforts.

Andre Couto:
“It is unfortunate we weren’t able to get any Driver’s points today. We had awful oversteer, and that made the car difficult to drive. The next event takes place at TOYOTA’s home track (Fuji), and after reflecting on what happened here today; we’ll be able to take the necessary steps for better results next time out.”

Photo by T. Moriyama

On Tuesday the 2nd of April, Prema successfully completed it’s final shake-down test of the year at Vallelunga, before the opening race of the season of the World Series by Renault that will explode into action on the 14th and 15th of April at the legendary Italian circuit, Monza.

Prema was in action on the Lazio based track with their drivers Ben Hanley and Xavier Maasen, who went through a series of set-up changes, practice starts and pit stop simulations in preparation for the first race.

Oliver Helvig, Race Engineer said: “It’s been a positive and interesting test, where we tested many solutions of our car simulating Monza’s specification. The team worked well, even with our pit-stops, which are a crucial part of the race. Now we will return home and check and re-build our cars to the nth degree to make sure they are in top form for the race.”