Battle lines drawn for Abu Dhabi
The countdown has begun to Saturday 17 April when the inaugural FIA GT1 World Championship will strut its stuff on the stunning Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi as a new era of sportscar racing dawns.
The 2010 championship features six iconic brands, 12 independent teams and 48 of the world’s best drivers.
In the UAE capital, where the series opener is being dubbed The Battle of The Brands, the anticipation has reached fever pitch.
A dress-rehearsal, in the shape of an FIA Balance Of Performance test, takes place on Wednesday 14 April ahead of qualifying on Friday and the main event on Saturday.
As Stephane Ratel, the promoter of the FIA GT1 World Championship, said at the series launch in Paris last month, “we are now ready to showcase the pinnacle of sports car racing in a single world championship and become one of the ‘big four’ international motorsport series recognised by the FIA.”
A walk through the grid reveals former Formula One drivers, Le Mans 24 Hour winners, GT champions – a blend of wily old heads and eager young guns.
The form book suggests the men to beat are current FIA GT Champions Michael Bartels (Germany) and Andrea Bertolini (Italy) who will carry the No.1 on their Vitaphone Racing Maserati MC12.
Joining them in the Vitaphone squad are FIA GT race winners in the shape of former Brazilian Formula One man Enrique Bernoldi and Portugal’s Miguel Ramos.
The Nissan GT-R’s of the Swiss Racing Team also has a very impressive driver line-up.
The No.3 will be driven by another ex-F1 man in Karl Wendlinger. The Austrian holds the record of the most wins in FIA GT with 17. The 1999 champion will be joined by Switzerland’s 2007 FIA GT3 European champion Henri Moser.
The second Swiss Racing Nissan brings together the 2004 Le Mans 24 Hours winner Seiji Ara from Japan and Sweden’s Max Nilsson.
Matech Competition ran the 2010 spec Ford GT in last year’s FIA GT Championship and have been developing the car over the winter. The Swiss team will have Thomas Mutsch (Germany) and 2009 Renault F1 driver, and former Euro F3 and GP2 Asia champion, Romain Grosjean (Switzerland) at the wheel of the No.5 Ford GT.
The sister car will feature an all-female line up with Swiss racers Natacha Gachnang and Cyndie Allemann.
The first of the Young Driver AMR Aston Martin DB9’s will be driven by Britain’s Darren Turner and another F1 refugee Tomas Enge (Czech Republic), with the second car in the custody of GT and GT3 race winners Stefan Mücke (Germany) and Christoffer Nygaard (Denmark).
Reigning FIA GT3 Team Champions Hexis Racing AMR have stepped up to the GT1 World Championship with the second pair of Aston Martin DB9s. The first of their cars will be raced by GT3 race winner Frédéric Makowiecki (France) and former Swiss F1 driver and eight-time FIA GT race winner Jean-Denis Deletraz.
Clivio Piccione from Monaco and Switzerland’s Jonathan Hirschi are paired in the second Hexis Racing Aston.
The striking livery of the Mad-Croc Racing Corvette Z06 will turn a few heads. The Abu Dhabi race brings together double GT race winner and former F1 racer Mika Salo and Finnish compatriot Pertti Kuismanen.
The second Mad-Croc Corvette will be led by Xavier Maassen, with his co-driver to be announced closer to the event.
Germany’s Phoenix Racing/Carsport are the second team to field the Corvette Z06. In the No.13 car is Marc Hennerici (Germany) along with Andreas Zuber (Austria). The partner for 14-time race winner Mike Hezemans (Netherlands) in the second car has yet to be confirmed.
Britain’s Sumo Power GT will be the second team to campaign the Nissan GT-R with a British pairing of Warren Hughes and 2000 FIA GT Champion Jamie Campbell-Walter. The second duo is Germany’s Michael Krumm will join Britain’s Peter Dumbreck.
At Reiter Engineering, the No.24 Lamborghini Murcielago R-SV, resplendent in its Blancpain livery, is driven by triple FIA GT race winner Peter Kox (Netherlands) and current FIA GT3 European champion Christopher Haase (Germany).
The second car will be raced by 1998 FIA GT champion and ex-F1 man Ricardo Zonta, who will be joined by fellow Brazilian Rafael Daniel.
Triple H Team Hegersport also run the Maserati MC12 in 2010 with Altfrid Heger (Germany) and Alexander Margaritis (Greece) combining in the No.33, while 2003 Champion Matteo Bobbi (Italy). Five-time FIA GT race winner Bert Longin (Belgium) will lead the driving duties on the other side of the garage.
Germany's All-Inkl.com Münnich Motorsport will race the second pair of Lamborghini Murcielago R-SV in 2010, with German drivers Marc Basseng and Thomas Jäger and Nicky Pastorelli (Italy) and Dominik Schwager (Germany).
Belgium's Marc VDS Racing Team will run the Ford GT this season after competing in last year’s FIA GT with the 2010 car. They will feature the Bas Leinders and Maxime Martin and Markus Palttala (Finland) and Renaud Kuppens.
The opening round of the 2010 FIA GT1 World Championship will take place at 19:45 (local time) at Yas Marina.
The drivers will contest qualifying on Friday 16 April to determine the grid of the qualifying race that is scheduled for 16:00 on Saturday. The race programme also includes qualifying and two races for the UAE Touring Car Championship.
We will announce shortly details of our partner Television broadcast deals which means fans can watch live television coverage around the world.
On GT1world.com, we will be streaming live coverage of qualifying and championship races on our GT1TV channel as well as live timing throughout the season. Further details to be announced soon.
FIA GT1 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP - ROUND ONE - ABU DHABI TIMETABLE
Friday 16 April
13:00 - 14:20 FREE PRACTICE (80 mins)
16:10 - 17:30 PRE QUALIFYING (80 mins)
19:30 - 20:30 QUALIFYING (60 mins)
Saturday 17 April
13:30 - 14:00 WARM UP
16:00 - 17:00 QUALIFYING RACE (60 MINS - ROLLING START)
19:30 - 20:30 CHAMPIONSHIP RACE (60 MINS - ROLLING START)
All times are local
|Abu Dhabi Entry List|
|Cls.||Car#||Team||Nat||Car Type||Driver 1||Nat.||Driver 2||Nat.|
|GT1||1||Vitaphone Racing Team||DEU||Maserati MC12||Michael Bartels
|GT1||2||Vitaphone Racing Team||DEU||Maserati MC12||Miguel Ramos
|GT1||3||Swiss Racing Team||CHE||Nissan GT-R||Karl Wendlinger
|GT1||4||Swiss Racing Team||CHE||Nissan GT-R||Seiji Ara
|GT1||5||Matech Competition||CHE||Ford GT||Thomas Mutsch
|GT1||6||Matech Competition||CHE||Ford GT||Natacha Gachnang
|GT1||7||Young Driver AMR||DEU||Aston Martin DB9||Darren Turner
|GT1||8||Young Driver AMR||DEU||Aston Martin DB9||Stefan Mücke
|GT1||9||Hexis AMR||FRA||Aston Martin DB9||Frédéric Makowiecki
|GT1||10||Hexis AMR||FRA||Aston Martin DB9||Clivio Piccione
|GT1||11||Mad-Croc Racing||BEL||Corvette Z06||Xavier Maassen
|GT1||12||Mad-Croc Racing||BEL||Corvette Z06||Mika Salo
|GT1||13||Phoenix Racing /Carsport||DEU||Corvette Z06||Marc Hennerici
|GT1||14||Phoenix Racing /Carsport||DEU||Corvette Z06||Mike Hezemans
|GT1||22||Sumo Power GT||GBR||Nissan GT-R||Warren Hughes
|GT1||23||Sumo Power GT||GBR||Nissan GT-R||Michael Krumm
|GT1||24||Reiter||DEU||Lamborghini Murcielago R-||Peter Kox
|GT1||25||Reiter||DEU||Lamborghini Murcielago R-||Ricardo Zonta
|GT1||33||Triple H Team Hegersport||DEU||Maserati MC12||Altfrid Heger
|GT1||34||Triple H Team Hegersport||DEU||Maserati MC12||Matteo Bobbi
|GT1||37||All-Inkl.com Münnich Motorsport||DEU||Lamborghini Murcielago R-||Marc Basseng
|GT1||38||All-Inkl.com Münnich Motorsport||DEU||Lamborghini Murcielago R-||Nicky Pastorelli
|GT1||40||Marc VDS Racing Team||BEL||Ford GT||Bas Leinders
|GT1||41||Marc VDS Racing Team||BEL||Ford GT||Markus Palttala
The participation of competitors 11 and 14 remains subject to the approval of the Panel of Stewards. 'Driver1' and 'Driver2' may be exchanged until the end of scrutineering