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LMES – Nurburgring 1000 Kms – Preview
Part Two (Or Three?)

For seven of the nine LMP1s in the line-up for Saturday afternoon’s into-the-evening event, this is part three of their European programme (part four if you count the USA, and those who competed at Sebring), because all bar the Creation DBA and Jota Zytek competed at the Le Mans 24 Hours – and they would have raced there had they been given the chance.

So the second of the LMES events has attracted almost all the top LMP1s in Europe (no Nasamax this time, no Taurus and no Racing for Holland again). For some of the teams though, this really is a frantic part of the season.

FIA GTs at Donington and then on to the Nurburgring: Creation Autosportif, GNM, Konrad
British GTs and then onto the Nurburgring: Racesports Salisbury
Le Mans, French GTs and then on to the Nurburgring: Larbre
Le Mans, British GTs and on to the Nurburgring: Rollcentre
British GTs, FIA GTs and on to the Nurburgring: JWR
Le Mans, FIA GTs and on to the Nurburgring: RML and Freisinger.

So no one has been daft enough to take in Le Mans, British GTs, FIA GTs and the LMES – have they? Oh, we have – plus the ALMS, GA, French GTs etc.! Well done JWR – three events in three weeks. Well done to all the crew members who have made the above programmes possible.

So it’s the second round of the LMES, and the evidence of Monza suggests that this one could be even better than the first.

LMP1
At the first ‘downforce’ track, how many of the nine are potential winners? Matching the three R8s over one lap is rather different from matching them over 195 (or six hours max.), but we have high hopes for the two Zyteks and the DBA, in particular.

But the Audis are going to be relentless, aren’t they? McNish and Herbert at Monza was very little different from Herbert / Davies / Smith or Capello / Kristensen / Ara at Le Mans, over 24 hours. If any one entry is going to beat the Audis this year, it’s going to have to enjoy a faultless run, much as Weaver / Leitzinger managed at Sears Point last year – and probably require a little bit of magic thrown in again too.

But it’s endurance racing, and the evidence from Le Mans tells that when this pace is as fast as that, anything could happen. Anything could have happened at Monza, but nothing held up the Audis, apart from a set-up that has since been corrected on the Goh Audi. Let battle commence.

The RML Lola will need to adopt different tactics now that Le Mans is out of the way, Rollcentre has bounced back from grave misfortune at Le Mans (let’s hope Shorty is fit), the Pescarolo chassis needs to prove itself away from the long straights – but it’s likely to be the three ‘Zyteks’ that are in contention (with the Audis) for, initially, pole position.

dailysportscar.comMagnussen in the factory car? We have every reason to believe so.

Audi’s record at the ‘Ring is one race (in 2000) and no wins… Brabham and Magnussen won that one, for Panoz. No Brabs in the LMES this week (he’s racing the Lamborghini at Lime Rock), so Magnussen on his debut in the Zytek to make it two from two? McNish has a chance to make up for “aquaplaning off the flooded track” in 2000, while Herbert won here in F1, for Jackie Stewart’s team. Capello was on pole in 2000, and will be full of confidence after his recent Le Mans win… but Sam Li will settle for nothing less than a victory.

Oh dear oh dear: no Magnussen / Shimoda Zytek at the 'Ring, reasons to be revealed shortly.

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LMP2
The Belmondo Courage was the pole-sitter at Monza, clearly so, but that was without Jean-Marc Gounon in the factory car – now with the same AER engine, of course. Gounon and Hancock are a strong pair, the question mark perhaps being over the form of the 2004-spec. C65 on a downforce track. No K2 Pilbeam MP91 alas, but the later spec. WR joins the line-up. The non-Courage entries might expect to be waiting to pick up the pieces. Gounon and Hancock (plus Frei) won’t want to leave any scraps for the rest.

The newcomers since Monza are Tracsport's Lola, Palmyr's Lucchini, Renauer's Tampolli, G Force's Pilbeam and WR's 2003-4 car - plus the Courage of course.

GTS
dailysportscar.comThe class of the FIA GT Championship again takes on Larbre’s (Le Mans / FFSA) Ferrari 550. Alzen and Bouchut were at their spectacular best at Monza, passing and re-passing for lap after lap. Expect the two hard men to go at each other again. The form of the new Kaufmann / van de Poele Porsche will be interesting to follow – and good old Wolfgang has offered dsc’ers a ride around the Nordschleife on Friday evening. Top man!

Barron Connor is looking to up the pace with its 575 Ferraris, but perhaps the GNM Saleen and Force One Viper are possibles for a podium finish.

GT
The largest class (14, against nine for each of the other three), and four entries catch the eye. These are the Porsches from JWR, Freisinger and Cirtek, and the JMB Ferrari 360. The number of competitive entries is an interesting contrast with the GT Class in the ALMS: that is the toughest GT battle anywhere, but this one is very interesting.

dailysportscar.comFreisinger’s Ortelli and Dumas were the class of Monza, and took the win despite a problem. Maassen and Jones were unlucky to hit the alternator problem first there, and are potential winners anywhere, the JMB Ferrari has two very strong drivers in Daoudi and Melo, while Jordan is a former FIA GT winner here and partner Liddell won a few days ago in LMP2 at Mid-Ohio.

It’s all Porsches and Ferraris, apart from John Hartshorne’s TVR: Racesports met a novel problem at Monza, preventing a good finish. Karim ‘Ojea’ (on the official entry list) is actually Cirtek’s TAG man Karim Ojjeh, racing at this level for the first time. T2M and Auto Palace will be out to make amends for highly unfortunate experiences at Monza, while the likes of Sebah will be content with another top five – very content. Oh, we find that Marino Franchitti and Xavier Pompidou will be driving the Sebah Porsche: make the target a podium.

This should be a second, highly entertaining, LMES event. Coverage here will begin on Friday, to include dedicated features on Rollcentre and JWR.

Is it going to rain, as it did at Monza? The forecast is "changeable".

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