Nielsen confident of Donington SRWC glory

Former Le Mans winner John Nielsen believes he can give the Panoz marque its first ever win on British soil when the SportsRacing World Cup circus visits Donington Park this weekend

Nielsen confident of Donington SRWC glory

The Dane's David Price Racing-run LMP-1 Roadster S starts the event as favourite following the signing of double SRWC champion Vincenzo Sospiri as Nielsen's co-driver.

Ex-Formula 3000 champion Sospiri is using the race to make his comeback after sitting out the season so far with a shoulder injury. Following a successful test at Snetterton yesterday (Wednesday), the Italian is primed to form the strongest driver pairing on the grid. The team also runs a second Panoz for the first time for Danish team sponsor Karsten Ree and youngster Casper Elgaard.

"It's great to have someone of Vincenzo's calibre with me in the car," said Nielsen "After all, he is the champion from the past two years. I think we lost our chance to win the championship by only finishing fifth in the last race at Brno, but we're not giving up. We want to win races so we build a good base to continue next year."

To score the car's first win of the season, however, the duo will first have to beat the championship-leading JMB Competition Ferrari 333SP of young chargers Christian Pescatori and David Terrien. They have won two of the four events so far this year, and have proved a rapid and reliable combination. The French team has won the SRWC title for the past two years, running Emmanuel Collard and Sospiri himself. Although now a six-year-old design, the Ferrari chassis is still a great handling car, and will suit Donington's sweeps and turns.

Their biggest threat in championship points among the 30-strong grid comes from the R&M Racing Judd-powered Riley & Scott MkIII of former World Sportscar Champion Mauro Baldi and rising South African star Gary Formato. The winners of the second round at Monza, they lie second in the title race, 20 points (the equivalent of one race win) behind the JMB car.
The Italian R&M team is building its own chassis for 2001 based on the ageing Riley & Scott, and has developed a new nose section which will be put to use this weekend.
Baldi said: "We really need to win this race if we are to have a chance [for the title]. Twenty points behind with four races to go is still a big gap. But I've always liked Donington and I think we'll be competitive."

Of the 14 primary SR1 class contenders entered for the race, there are no less than six Ferrari 333SPs. Beyond the JMB car, the other two most competitive runners are the car of one-time Grand Prix driver Giovanni Lavaggi and the lead BMS Scuderia Italia machine of Austrian single-seater convert Philipp Peter.

British interest will centre on the new Judd-powered Ascari A410, piloted by capable South African Werner Lupberger along with team boss Klaas Zwart. An encouraging debut at Brno saw it challenge for the lead, and if it can run reliably, it will be a dark horse for honours. Also making its race debut will be the new Porsche-powered Harrier chassis, which will see British Formula 3 hotshoe Ben Collins make his first SRWC start for two years.

SRII
In the SRII class, Britons Mark Smithson and Peter Owen are leading the championship in their Redman Bright Pilbeam-Nissan, and are aiming for a good finish to keep their points tally rising. Among a host of Italian Lucchini, Tampolli and Picchio chassis, two other British marques also appear.

The new Rapier 6 of British company LM3000 makes its long-awaited debut in the hands of experienced campaigner Ian Flux, while Castle Combe expert Adrian Cottrell and Richard Fores join Mark Bailey Racing to race the Rover-powered MBR.

The entire 16-car field of the secondary class machines will be stretched to beat the works Tampolli if the Italian team's plan comes off, however. Ulstermen Dino Morelli, an experienced Formula 3000 campaigner, and Richard Lyons, last year's Formula Palmer Audi runner-up, are aiming to team up in one of the Alfa Romeo-powered cars for the Donington race. If the deal goes ahead, look no further for the SRII winners at the end of the two and a half hour race.

shares
comments
Saleen launches new GTS contender
Previous article

Saleen launches new GTS contender

Next article

Sospiri injury prevents racing return

Sospiri injury prevents racing return
How to get the best out of amateur racers Plus

How to get the best out of amateur racers

Pro-Am GT racing is booming. But how should drivers approach working with an amateur? Autosport sought out a panel of experts to explain the pitfalls amateur drivers should avoid and how professionals can help them to achieve their goals

GT
Apr 3, 2022
The remarkable career of a 'classy' champion who rejected politics Plus

The remarkable career of a 'classy' champion who rejected politics

Over two decades as a factory driver with Audi and BMW, Martin Tomczyk earned the respect of team-mates and rivals as a hard but fair racer. After calling time on his racing career, the 2011 DTM champion sat down with Autosport to look back

GT
Mar 5, 2022
The ex-IndyCar racer in "uncharted territory" of British GT team ownership Plus

The ex-IndyCar racer in "uncharted territory" of British GT team ownership

This weekend’s British GT finale will be a tense title showdown for some but, for those not in the championship fight, it’s a chance to end a challenging year on a high. In the latter camp is Paddock Motorsport's team owner Martin Plowman, whose 2021 season has been a rollercoaster ride of non-stop learning

National
Oct 15, 2021
The unpopular BMW stalwart built for the big occasion Plus

The unpopular BMW stalwart built for the big occasion

It has won most of the big prizes in endurance racing across its six years in service, but the BMW M6 GT3's key weaknesses meant only a devoted few teams persisted with running it. As it prepares to bow out at season's end, the teams and drivers involved in its story share the secrets of an unpopular winner

GT
Oct 7, 2021
The unwanted GT car that changed sportscar racing forever Plus

The unwanted GT car that changed sportscar racing forever

Had FIA GT boss Stephane Ratel had his way, the Maserati MC12 would never have been allowed to set foot in his series. It duly proved the class of the field that most had expected, but the Balance of Performance that its superiority spawned would keep GT1 battles tight and bring long-term benefits that sportscar racing enjoys today

GT
Sep 21, 2021
Why Britain's greatest sportscar was eclipsed on the world stage Plus

Why Britain's greatest sportscar was eclipsed on the world stage

The E-Type may be the most famous of all road-going Jaguars, but that didn't always translate into success on the track. After winning on its competition debut in 1961, motorsport success seemed an inevitability, but things didn’t turn out to be quite that straightforward

GT
Aug 6, 2021
Why the Jaguar E-type remains special at 60 Plus

Why the Jaguar E-type remains special at 60

It’s 60 years since the Jaguar E-type arrived and caused a sensation. As our resident racer Ben Anderson discovered when he got behind the wheel of two special racing versions at Brands Hatch, the thrill of driving them hasn't diminished over time

GT
Jul 31, 2021
The rise of a GT squad responsible for a unique 24-hour racing feat Plus

The rise of a GT squad responsible for a unique 24-hour racing feat

It's a significant achievement to win one 24-hour race in a year, let alone two, and with different manufacturers, but that's exactly what ROWE Racing did in 2020 at the Nurburgring and Spa. This weekend's German classic offers the DTM newcomer a chance of another unique double to add to its growing collection of accolades

GT
Jun 3, 2021