ETCC: Anderstorp: Round five preview

LG Super Racing Weekend Round 5 - Anderstorp (SWE) - 28th - 30th June 2002 Four weeks after leaving the Spanish track of Jarama, the teams taking part in the various events of the LG Super Racing Weekend series will meet up once more, this time ...

ETCC: Anderstorp: Round five preview

LG Super Racing Weekend
Round 5 - Anderstorp (SWE) - 28th - 30th June 2002

Four weeks after leaving the Spanish track of Jarama, the teams taking part in the various events of the LG Super Racing Weekend series will meet up once more, this time in Sweden, at the Anderstorp circuit. This will mark the first visit of many of the competitors to Scandinavia, and an interesting weekend of racing is in prospect. The FIA European Touring Car Championship has raced at Anderstorp on three occasions in the past, although this will be the first time since the Championship was revived last year. This will be the FIA GT Championship's first visit to Sweden, although the Championship raced in Scandinavia in 1997, in the Finnish capital Helsinki.

The Scandinavian Raceway in Anderstorp was built in 1968, and hosted the Swedish Formula One Grand Prix between 1973 and 1978. It is a medium-fast track, best known for its long straight. Built alongside an airstrip, this straight is extremely wide, before funnelling into a very tight second-gear corner at the end. After a right-hander, the track has two corners that are slightly banked. After a second straight and a left-handed corner comes the track's second famous feature, the carrousel, which is quite fast and, according to drivers, seems never-ending. "The key is to stick to the right side and wait and wait," explained Swedish driver Carl Rosenblad, who will be at the wheel of the nr 2 Larbre Competition Chéreau Chrysler Viper. "It's important not to have any oversteer. Generally, I think the track should be good for endurance as only one corner could give problems for overtaking : the tight left-hander leading back onto the pit straight. There are good run-offs, the grip is medium and tyre wear is generally good. It's a track that is easy to learn, and I don't think my local knowledge will give me much of an advantage after the first couple of laps."

The FIA GT and European Touring Car Championships will be joined by the Formula Renault 2000 Eurocup and the Renault Sport Clio Trophy, while the S60 Volvo Challenge replaces the Lamborghini Supertrophy for this event. Anderstorp is in southern Sweden, between Jönköping and Halmsted. The nearest town is Gislaved, and the circuit is located on the 27 route towards Värnamo. The nearest airport is Jönköping, which is 50 minutes away. Gothenburg airport is one of the best connected, an hour away, with Malmoe a two-hour journey away.


Anderstorp is not a new venue for the FIA European Touring Car Championship, which visited the Scandinavian circuit three times between 1985 and 1987, with Volvo winning two out of the three events. This return to Anderstorp will be a special occasion for the Swedish fans; not only is Volvo aiming for a first win of the season, but three local drivers will be taking part : Rickard Rydell, who is probably the most popular Swedish driver of his time, 1998 Swedish Touring Car Champion Fredrik Ekblom and newcomer Jens Edman. Tommy Rustad might be from neighbouring Norway, but he should have a number of fans, having won the Swedish Touring Car title in 2000.

To date, the FIA European Touring Car Championship has been dominated by Gta Racing Team Nordauto, which has won all 8 races so far, with Fabrizio Giovanardi having won six of them. Giovanardi not only leads the Drivers Championship, but has also regained the lead in the Michelin Trophy. In Spain he set pole position and the fastest lap in both races, giving him the maximum score of 21 points. He currently has a 19-point lead over his team-mate Larini, with Rickard Rydell in third position.

A proposal for the introduction of penalty weights in the FIA European Touring Car Championship, with immediate effect, has been proposed by the Technical Working Group and will be submitted to the World Motor Sport Council on June 26th 2002. If accepted, a ballast weight handicap will be applied to the drivers finishing in the first three places of the combined classification of the two races. The driver placed first will carry 30 kg at the next event, the second placed will carry 20 kg and the third will carry 10 kg. The weights will not be cumulative. If two drivers should score the same number of points, the highest placed driver in the official qualifying session.

Flash Engineering, the team which runs the factory Volvo S40 in the Swedish Touring Car Championship, will run a third Prodrive-built Volvo S60 at Anderstorp, for Swedish driver Jens Edman. Plans for the races following Anderstorp have not been finalised, but it is likely that former Swedish Touring Car champion Jan 'Flash' Nilsson will drive the car at Oschersleben and Spa. "We are keen to have private teams running the S60 in the championship," Volvo Motorsport director Olle Odsell declared.

"The Flash entry is an excellent start and I hope will contribute to Volvo's score in the Manufacturer's Championship. It is great to increase Volvo's presence on the grid, and I hope it sends a sign that the championship is growing and that other Manufacturers watching will be encouraged to join." Flash Engineering team manager Christian Dahl explained their decision : "We see this as a great opportunity to learn about the car for next year. We sent our own personnel to Prodrive to study it and we will also test at Mantorp Park before Anderstorp, so our team will be well prepared." Jens Edman, a 26-year-old from Västervik, has emerged as one of the leading Swedish Touring Car drivers over recent years, with seven Swedish Touring Car Championship wins for Volvo and Ford. "I am very excited because I have wanted to race in the European Championship since last year," he explained. "I think this will be the most important weekend of my racing career and if I do well they might give me the chance to do another couple of races before the end of the season. The team and I are determined to do our best. Our goal is to score points and I think it will be possible!"

GIOVANARDI: VOLVO CAN WIN ON HOME TRACK (1st in the Drivers Championship, 72 points)
With six wins out of the eight Championship rounds held so far, Fabrizio Giovanardi has built a 20-point lead in the drivers classification, laying a serious claim on the 2002 crown. "Obviously this situation makes me feel a bit relaxed, but I am very careful not to lose concentration. Soon the championship could adopt the success ballast system and this should balance the performances between our cars and the others. We have to be ready for that moment and try to maintain our winning edge." Last week, Gta Racing Team Nordauto completed two days of testing at the Ferrari track in Fiorano. "We have tested some new solutions to help us to absorb the success ballast's extra weight. We worked on the set up and the weight distribution. We also had planned to work on our weak point, our starts, but we ran out of time." Giovanardi does not know the Anderstorp track. "None of us has ever been there. However, I am not worried because it will not be the first time I have had to race on a track I don't know. I reckon that Volvo should be in a position to win, because this is their home circuit and the S60 has already proved at Silverstone and Brno to be at ease on fast tracks."

LARINI: I WANT TO CLOSE IN ON FABRIZIO (2nd in the Drivers Championship, 52 points)
Despite being 20 points behind his team-mate Giovanardi in the championship classification, Nicola Larini is full of confidence after his fine win in Race two at Jarama. "It was a very important win, because it has kept me in play for the title. I was worried that if Fabrizio had won both races, it could have pushed the team to establish a hierarchy for the rest of the season. But I had a very good weekend in Spain, which surprised me as it is one of those tracks which does not normally suit my driving style." Larini also took part in the Gta Racing Team Nordauto testing at Fiorano. "While Fabrizio was working on the balance with the ballast on board, I was asked to test different solutions for the engine management map. This was the first proper development test we have done since the beginning of the season." For Anderstorp, Larini hopes to remain competitive despite not knowing the track. "My goal is to recover some points, so we can fight for the title until the end of the season. This would make up for the bad luck I had last year."

D. MÜLLER: WE NEED MORE HORSEPOWER (3rd in the Drivers Championship, 32 points)
Apart from Giovanardi and Larini, Dirk Müller is the only other driver who has scored points in all the Championship rounds so far. In Jarama he finished fourth and third, confirming his position as closest pursuer of the Alfa Romeo duo. "I am a bit concerned by Sweden, because I don't know the track at all. Therefore I will have to spend time learning the track, instead of working on setting the car up," he explained. The Schnitzer Motorsport BMW Team Deutschland recently tested at Adria's brand new circuit in northern Italy.

"It was a very short test and we did not have anything new on the cars to be checked. But it was good anyway because we worked on improving the set up. BMW Motorsport is working really hard to give us some new engine developments in time for Anderstorp, but we don't know yet if they will manage to do this. We definitely need more horsepower, but it's not easy. It would be counterproductive to get more power to the detriment of reliability. But I still hope we will have new engines for Sweden, as we need them to regain motivation," said Müller.

RYDELL: WE WILL BE ON THE PACE! (5th in the Drivers Championship, 14 points)
After a disappointing weekend in Jarama, when engine problems with his Volvo prevented him from scoring any points, Rickard Rydell is really looking forward to racing in Anderstorp. "I believe we will be on the pace there, just like we were in Brno. Although Anderstorp is very different from the Czech circuit, I think the long, fast corners should suit our car, although the long straight will probably be more to the advantage of Alfa Romeo," commented Rydell. As a Volvo driver, Rydell should be well supported by the Swedish fans in Anderstorp. "Volvo is very popular and has also invited a lot of people to attend the race. But I cannot really say that Anderstorp is my own track. Last year I made a guest star appearance for Volvo in the Swedish Touring Car Championship finale, but the latest time I had raced there before was in a Swedish Formula 3 round in 1988. And I don't even remember where I finished." Rydell is very positive about Volvo's decision to enter a third car through Flash Engineering : "It is good, because in the second half of the season this will help us to put pressure on the BMW cars and to play tactics."

EKBLOM: A PODIUM WOULD BE FANTASTIC! (8th in the Drivers Championship, 5 points)
A favourite of the Swedish fans and a former Swedish Touring Car champion in 1998 for BMW, Fredrik Ekblom will be one of the men to watch in Anderstorp. "I really hope to do a good job to please all my fans. I think that the RBM team has done well so far and we are trying our best to be prepared for Anderstorp. We will test in Mantorp Park early next week, looking for some new set up solutions and hopefully BMW will give us a more powerful engine," Ekblom said. The Swede has already scored points four times this season, but he is now aiming for a podium. "As a racing driver, my aim is to win races, but I have to be realistic : winning is out of our range now. But if we do a good job, with a bit of luck we could break into the top three. It would be fantastic for us, because fans and media will pay a lot of attention to this race, the biggest motorsport event in Sweden for many years. I will have a small advantage because I know the track very well, but most of the drivers competing in the championship are aces and it will not take them long to learn the track."

With the contract between Gianni Morbidelli and the Carly Motors - Team Isert team having come to an end, the team is currently looking for another driver to take the wheel of the nr 8 BMW 320i E46 car for the rest of the season. The most likely candidates are Duncan Huisman and Donald Molenaar, from the Netherlands. Both men currently drive for Carly Motors in the Dutch Touring Car Championship, with Duncan lying second after scoring three wins from six races, and Molenaar fourth. Huisman was runner-up to Peter Kox in the FIA Super Production Championship last year, having won three races. Molenaar, who joined the team this year, took part in the final round of the Super Production Championship in Estoril last year, when he finished fourth in a Renault Clio RS.

Ravaglia Motorsport BMW Team Spain also spent a day testing in Adria. Both Jordi Gené and Fabrizio De Simone took part in the test, with positive results. "We worked on the set up and on finding a good brake balance, which was our major problem in the previous races. We tested a number of different solutions, some of which proved to be very good. I am really pleased of the job we have done and I feel confident for Anderstorp," said De Simone. In Adria, Gené and De Simone were able to set similar times to the Schnitzer BMW Team Deutschland drivers. "It was important for us to see that we are closing the gap on the Schnitzer cars. Obviously testing is testing and does not count for the championship; we have to transfer what we have learnt to the actual race in Anderstorp. Jordi's performance in Jarama, when he was close to the points, showed that we are improving and I hope that in Sweden we could make up for our early season disappointments."

Although he is from Norway, Tommy Rustad is very popular with Swedish motor racing fans. The RJN Motorsport driver used to be a regular competitor in the Swedish Touring Car Championship in 1999 and 2000. At the wheel of a factory backed Nissan Primera, Rustad scored nine race wins and claimed the Swedish title during his second season in the championship. "I scored five of my wins in Anderstorp and obviously I have very good memories of that track. I know it very well and I like it, although I should say that it does not suit our current car. To be fast in Anderstorp you need a powerful engine and this year we are struggling on this side. I expect that our engine will work better in Anderstorp, as we will use a new inlet system. We had tested it before in Silverstone but it did not work. Apparently now the problems are solved and we will test it again on Saturday morning. This should give us more torque."


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