2000/01 Season Preview
by Mike Hogg
As a new season of the Internet Amiga F1 GP Championship dawns upon us,
further sweeping changes have been made in the rules to ensure grid sizes
are kept at reasonable levels by having the Ace and Pro championships race
together and at the same race distance.
On paper the Ace Championship looks like it could be very exciting indeed with Jan Svehlik returning to defend the crown against his nearest challenger from last year, Thomas Bodlien. Svehlik has a team mate in ex-Team Ecosse race winner Mike Hogg this year, making it the first time in it's long history that Bolgani has run two cars while Bodlien brings experianced driver Steffen Diener back to the Championship as his team-mate at Power Tech after a year away. The Constructors Championship should be a close run thing between these two teams.
Also returning to the category is Claudio Martino who tested the waters last year with a few outings, ending up on the podium once. Some international flavour is added to the category with the introduction of the Corgi team with Canadian Darren Crawford at the wheel and the German Amiga Racing squad introduce Benjamin Surig.
The Pro series has a promising entry list this year. Reigning Champion Ian Parkhouse returns with his Phoenix team and he will no doubt pick up strong competiton from the ever competitive BCR Hondas of Mario Sarno and Mark Butler. Other veterans in the class who will be in the hunt for wins include 98/99 Champion Olivier Leroy in the Cyberspeed entry and 97/98 Champion Gary Leighton who has resurected the S.RS Turbo team he won that very Championship with.
Robert Wilson and Beginner class graduate Donald Millican also return to the fold. New faces to the category include the French FDE team of Franck Derouault and the exciting addition of a works-backed Lotus entry to be driven by Jim Spratt and Gerard Volders.
#1 Jan Svehlik, Bolgani Country: Slovakia Category: ACE IAF1GPC Titles: 1999/2000 Overall Champion Overall Wins: 25 Other Podium Finishes: 9 Overall Pole Positions: 21 Total Points Scored: 9039 Notes: Until this season, Jan was the only driver to ever drive for Bolgani. After a short but promising debut season, he and the team quickly worked up through the rankings - 3rd, 2nd and finally 1st last year. A consistent driver, he rarely makes mistakes and is without a doubt the favourite for the Ace title. The statistic which says it all is the fact Svehlik has entered 51 races and won 25 of them. #2 Mike Hogg, Bolgani Country: Scotland Category: ACE IAF1GPC Titles: None - Best Finish 4th Overall 99/00 Overall Wins: 1 Other Podium Finishes: 2 Overall Pole Positions: 1 Total Points Scored: 2124 Notes: An also-ran in his debut season, Mike was driver of choice for the MSP Engine Development team - first driving their own car then the Team Ecosse MSP entry last season. Disjointed entries by the team meant he missed a lot of races but with the team folding he has joined Bolgani. A fast racer, his weaknesses are qualifying and keeping his concentration late in races. #3 Thomas Bodlien, Power Tech Country: Germany Category: ACE IAF1GPC Titles: None - Best Finish 2nd Overall 99/00 Overall Wins: 1 Other Podium Finishes: 13 Overall Pole Positions: 1 Total Points Scored: 3482 Notes: After a troubled and crash strewn rookie season in the 97/98 championship, Thomas missed a year and returned in awesome form last season - pushing Svehlik hard and eventually finishing second. A consistent finisher, his staying power and impressive speed will probably make him main challenger to Svehlik for the overall crown again. #4 Steffen Diener, Power Tech Country: Germany Category: ACE IAF1GPC Titles: None - Best Finish 7th Overall 96/97 Overall Wins: None Other Podium Finishes: 3 Overall Pole Positions: 1 Total Points Scored: 5769 Notes: Possibly the best driver in the IAF1GPC to never win a race, Steffen showed his form early in his career, taking pole in Japan and 2nd in the race in his debut year. Broken seasons in 97/98 and 98/99 kept him at the back end of the top ten in the final standings but when he did race he was an almost certain top six finisher. After missing a year he returns to race alongside Bodlien at Power Tech. #5 Mark Butler, BCR-Honda Country: England Category: PRO IAF1GPC Titles: None - Best Finish 5th In Pro Series 99/00 Class Wins: 1 Class Podium Finishes: 2 Class Pole Positions: 3 Points Scored: 615 Notes: BCR proved they had found an exciting new talent last season when they introduced Mark, who promptly took a win and two podium finishes in his three races. With BCR running a full-time two car squad this year he gets a full shot at the Championship, and who would bet against him? #6 Mario Sarno, BCR-Honda Country: England Category: PRO IAF1GPC Titles: None - Best Finish 2nd in Pro Series 99/00 Class Wins: 9 Class Podium Finishes: 4 Class Pole Positions: 6 Points Scored: 2766 Notes: One of the reasons BCR has become so competitive, Mario is a scarily fast driver, only let down by the occasional mistake during the race itself. His debut season in 98/99 was particularly impressive as he got straight on the pace and won three races but his championship charge last year was halted only by BCR's withdrawl towards the end of the season. Without a doubt one of the favourites for the Pro Championship and will more than likely mix it with some of the Ace drivers. #7 Olivier Leroy, Cyberspeed Country: France Category: PRO IAF1GPC Titles: Pro Class Champion 98/99 Class Wins: 4 Class Podium Finishes: 8 Class Pole Positions: 4 Points Scored: 2623 Notes: His debut year in the Pro Class turned out to be a happy one for Olivier, a mix of improving and consistent race form aligned with a dwindling number of opponents taking him to the title. It was a harder fought affair last season but he still took three podiums on his way to 4th in the standings. Could threaten for race wins, certainly for podium finishes. #9 Darren Crawford, Corgi Country: Canada Category: ACE IAF1GPC Titles: Rookie #11 Ian Parkhouse, Phoenix Country: England Category: PRO IAF1GPC Titles: Pro Class Champion 99/00 Class Wins: 7 Class Podium Finishes: 7 Class Pole Positions: 7 Points Scored: 2007 Notes: Certainly a case of lucky number 7, Ian romped to the title last season in the Pro Class with 7 poles, 7 wins and 7 other podium finishes. While it's true he was the only competitor in the last few rounds, his pace was electric in his rookie year and he stands a very good chance of keeping his title this year. #14 Franck Derouault, FDE Country: France Category: PRO IAF1GPC Titles: Rookie #15 Benjamin Surig, Amiga Racing Country: Germany Category: ACE IAF1GPC Titles: Rookie #17 Gary Leighton, S.RS Turbo Country: England Category: PRO IAF1GPC Titles: Semi-Pro Class Champion 97/98 Class Wins: 11 Class Podium Finishes: 12 Class Pole Positions: 14 Points Scored: 3865 Notes: Gary returns to the series for the fifth time this year, reunited with the team he won the 97/98 Semi-Pro Championship with. His rookie season the year before had been short but incredible - in his two outings before the sponsorship cash dried up he took a first and second place. In the last two seasons he has made disjointed returns to the series with a win in Britain last season helping him to 3rd in the final standings. A dark horse for the championship. #23 Donald Millican, Coll Oliver Millican Country: Scotland Category: PRO IAF1GPC Titles: None - Best Finish 2nd in Beginner Series 99/00 Class Wins: 1 Class Podium Finishes: 8 Class Pole Positions: None Points Scored: 1851 Notes: Despite a careful approach to his early races in his debut year last season, Donald constantly improved his pace through the year to the point which he beat eventual Beginner Champion Kevin Walker fair and square at the Hungarian round. Incredibly consistent, he is always there at the finish and it will be interesting to see how he fares in the Pro Class. #25 Jim Spratt, Lotus Country: GB (Northern Ireland) Category: PRO IAF1GPC Titles: Rookie #26 Gerard Volders, Lotus Country: Netherlands Category: PRO IAF1GPC Titles: Rookie #39 Robert Wilson, Powerecoil-2000 Country: England Category: PRO IAF1GPC Titles: None - Best Finish 7th in Pro Series 99/00 Class Wins: None Class Podium Finishes: 1 Class Pole Positions: None Points Scored: 284 Notes: Robert's true pace in the category is unknown as his forays into the Championship have been brief due to other racing commitments. #42 Claudio Di Martino, CiDiMa Bros Country: Italy Category: ACE IAF1GPC Titles: None - Best Finish 7th Overall 1995 & 99/00 Overall Wins: None Other Podium Finishes: 1 Overall Pole Positions: None Points Scored: 421 Notes: A very successful campaign in the second running of the Championship back in 1995 with his family team netted third in the Constructors listings but then the team returned to national Italian competition, Claudio returning for a couple of races last year before embarking on another try with the family this year. #44 Ron Vance, Mopar Category: PRO IAF1GPC Titles: None - Best Finish 6th in Semi Pro Series 97/98 Class Wins: 0 Class Podium Finishes: 3 Class Pole Positions: 0 Total Points: 1779 Notes: Ron is a talented racer who in his rookie season showed immense promise with the Mopar team, taking a 2nd place, 3rd place and three 4th place finishes in a season which was one of the Semi-Pro Series most competitive. Learning the ropes, he was usually a top 8 finisher until the team dropped out with a few rounds remaining. A move to Team Ecosse for the 98/99 series started off okay but after a decent 7th in the US and a great 3rd in Brazil the Opel engine deal dried up and the team vanished. Mopar are back but the car is going to be heavily delayed, Ron expects to take on the drive by the middle of the season.