Sharp looks to continue excellent GT start

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Scottish racer Ryan Sharp heads into the second round of the FIA GT Championship in a bullish mood after he and team-mate Karl Wendlinger took victory in the opening round at Silverstone.

The teams now head to the twisting 2,7k circuit of Adria in Italy, some 50k south of Venice for an evening into night race for the second round of the super sports car championship.

Silverstone ended up a straight fight between Sharp and Wendlinger's Saleen S7 and the three-times championship wining Vitafone Maserati duo of Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini.

Sharp and Wendlinger came out on top but afterwards Bartels was clearly unhappy afterwards and labelled the Saleen 'was not a true GT1 car'. He then went onto say that because of this they felt this 'was a victory.'

Neither Sharp or Wendlinger responded at the time, but it is clear that the normally placid Sharp was more that a bit miffed. "As far as Michael is concerned, they've won the championship for the last three seasons, and they think that they should win it this year as well. I just notice that it was a lot easier for me to pass Michael that it was for Karl to pass Andreas. I think that it just annoys him that I always seem to be in the car at the same time that he is driving. He's not as quick as Andreas which makes it easier for me to overtake him."

Sharp was in no mood to pull his punches, even nearly two weeks after Silverstone.

"Nobody complained about the Maserati over the last three or four years, everybody just accepts that it is in the championship and you've just got to get on with it. Our car is actually five years old: it doesn't just become 'not a GT1 car' this year. Maybe it's having better engineers running the car and quicker drivers behind the wheel than it has done in the past. And maybe he's just getting a bit slow for driving at the front of GT1."

"At Silverstone we had about 4mph top line speed over the Maserati but if you look at certain sectors, then we were quite a bit slower than them. We ran with very little wing to get the straight line advantage because you need good top end speed at Silverstone. At Adria we'll run the same kind of wing as everybody else I suspect."

Confidence is still high in the Saleen camp going into Adria, despite the penalties from the FIA, designed to equalise the performance of the cars. "We believe that we've got as good a chance in Adria as we did at Silverstone – we have an extra weight penalty to go with the 40k of ballast that we'd have had anyway from winning at Silverstone. So that's 90k in the car which isn't going to make it easy. But we will go there to try and win anyway."

"Looking at the weather at the moment, it looks like it will be wet all weekend, which we don't know if it will suit the Saleen or not. So with a new car and a new team it will definitely be an interesting weekend."