Interseries – Brno – May 1 - 2
These are not easy times for privateer based sportscar racing series in Europe. Competitors and series organisers are feeling the effects of the current economic situation. Both the Interserie and the Sports Car Challenge were faced with slim grids for 2004. Now the two have very sensibly agreed on a cooperation that has led to the merger of their sprint racing activities, under the new name "Super Sprint Challenge". Both sides are very comfortable with this agreement that has come about just in time to save their seasons. "This cooperation makes it easier for us financially", says co-organiser Erich Weber, "and we also work together very well. With the Interserie's plans for 100 minute endurance races, some of their single seater teams asked us if they could run with us in case the Interserie went 'endurance only', so we opened up our rulebook to accommodate them. Since the two series now basically have the same regulations, it made sense to bring them together."

Friedrich Dudichum, the man in charge of the Interserie Organisation, agrees: "The SCC approached us and offered a joint series for 2004, and the cooperation as it presents itself now is working well."

Right now, the fields are a a mix of single seaters and full-bodied prototype cars, in true 'Formula Libre' tradition, but the Interserie wants to get back to its sportscar racing roots. "In the long run, we will try to hold our current single seater teams, but get them interested in prototype racing", says Mr. Dudichum.

And what about the proposed Interserie Endurance 100 Trophy? "Announcing a calender with half a dozen events was a bold move", admits Mr. Dudichum, "but we wanted to send a message to the teams: we are committed to making the series happen, now it is your turn to commit to going racing. There are European prototype teams that want to compete in more than just four races a year; unfortunately, the initial interest from a number of sportscar and GT teams did not translate into a sufficient number of definite entries. We are now aiming to put together one or two properly supported races this season, as a basis on which to build a series of endurance races over the next years. 2005 will be the 35th year of the Interserie, and we intend to keep the tradition going into the next year and beyond." The Endurance 100 Trophy is open for all current ACO spec. prototypes, FIA SR1/SR2 cars, and smaller CN prototypes, as well as all ACO & FIA spec. GTs. The races will be timed "mini enduros" over 100 minutes.

Meanwhile, the Super Sprint Challenge made its first appearance at Brno last weekend, with two races over ten laps each. It was a single seater that had the upper hand in both races. Peter Milavec of Austria drove his Reynard F3000, with Audi turbo power, to two pole positions and two race wins. He had to work for his champagne though, at least in race 1. Four of the prototypes were capable of keeping up with the Reynard: the PRC-BMW of 2003 SCC champion Wolfgang Payr and the similar chassis of Gerd Beisel were the main challengers, the latter relying on a 3500cc Mugen V8 engine. These three were at the front of the first heat, the two sportscars fighting for position all the way. The race came their way when Milavec made two quick excursions into the quaint Czech countryside, and on his return to the grey stuff found himself a distant third. At this point, Switzerland's Sabrina Hungerbühler had already retired her Osella-BMW for technical reasons, so this left only one more +2000cc prototype in the race. Michal Dolak's endurance-equipped RC was out of place in this ten lap dash, but he nevertheless hung in there and drove home his podium finish, in fourth overall. Meanwhile things looked bleak for Milavec, until a 2l prototype came to a halt on the track, and the safety car was sent out. The leaders were back together for the final three laps, and in a straight shootout, the prototypes cannot keep up with a F3000. And thus, Peter Milavec won heat 1, and Beisel snatched second place away from Payr on the last lap.

The Sunday race was a much more straightforward affair. Sabrina Hungerbühler suffered a Denial Of Service attack from her Osella, which refused to start for the morning qualifying session. So the three fastest cars were once again among themselves. Milavec paced himself for the first few laps, brought his tyres and brakes up to temperature, and then overtook the other two cars and won the race, as easy as that. Behind him, the real race was once again between Payr and Beisel who once again stayed close together throughout the race. A lap from the end, the cars touched, and Beisel went off the track: with his radiator clogged up with dirt, and the internal temperature in his precious Mugen V8 rising to unhealthy levels, Beisel had to call it a race on the very last lap. Payr took second place, and Dolak inherited third with another steady run. Behind them, pseudonym driver "Tessitore" scored his second class win of the weekend with his 2000cc PRC-Opel.

With a score of Single Seaters 2 - Prototypes 0, the Super Sprint Challenge now moves on to the Salzburgring for the next two races, on 22/23 May.
Johannes Gauglica


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