Rally / 29 July 2011

Fabrizio Giovanardi delivers Honda Hartmann third title in FIA Cup

Driving in the Hartmann Racing Honda Accord, former double European and British Touring Car Champion Fabrizio Giovanardi clinched the 2011 FIA European Touring Car Cup at the Austrian Salzburgring.

The Cup is a purely European competition run over a single weekend with two consecutive races.

It is the third consecutive title for Hartmann Racing and Honda after winning in 2009 and 2010 with former team driver James Thompson.

?After winning back to back titles with Thompson it was obviously a disappointment when he left. However Fabrizio, with his experience and knowledge of touring car races, has proven to be an excellent replacement.? said Hans Hartmann of the Danish Honda team. ?We are a small private team with a tight budget, but we have a great reputation and Fabrizio immediately wished to join us, which was fantastic.?

The final of the FIA European Touring Car Cup saw a strong show from Honda. In addition to Giovanardi, Hartmann Racing entered a second Honda Accord with Austrian Wolfgang Treml at the wheel. Tomas Engstr?m also drove another potent Accord from the Seco Tools Racing Team. The Swiss Rikli Motorsport team managed a Civic for team owner Peter Rikli himself, whilst compatriot Christian Fischer sat in an Accord. In the Super Production category Serbian Aleksander To?ic competed in a Honda Civic Type R of ASK Vitro Racing, the winning team of 2010.

Giovanard?s triumph at the Salzburgring was aided by a blistering qualifying session, where he put in the fastest lap and started from ?pole? in front of Spaniard Pepe Oriola in the Seat and Swede Tomas Engstr?m in the Honda Accord. Giovanardi went on to dominate the first heat on the water soaked track, beating Oriola and Engstr?m. Securing these crucial points took the pressure off and allow the Hartmann team to think strategically about winning the cup.

?We only needed one point to beat Oriola in the Seat, so we decided to aim for second place.? said Giovanardi. ?From the start I drove on the offensive, making sure the title was never in danger. But two laps from the end we made the decision to not take any further risks. There was no reason to gamble and from that moment on I just had that one point in my mind.?

The 45-year old Italian, who has already won the European Touring Car Championship twice, added: ?I?ve been out of the spotlight for a while in the racing world, so this first win with the Honda Accord of Hartmann Racing feels great. I?m also already confirmed to compete with the Hartmann Honda in the seventh heat of the STCC, taking place on the Danish Jyllandsringen at the end of August. Things are going well for me at the moment and who knows what 2012 will bring??

Tomas Engstr?m, who until recently had driven in the Scandinavian Touring Car Cup, finished twice in third position in his Honda.

?There was intense rain in qualifying, which proved challenging. The track did start to dry up at the end of the session but it was too late to make a difference and better Giovanardi and Oriola? explained the Swede. ?And in the fierce rain of the first race you couldn?t see anything and impossible to catch up, so again third.?

Another third position came in the final race as Engstr?m was held in traffic.

?Frustratingly I couldn?t reach the leading pack. I got caught up in traffic and continuously had to overtake slower cars. The fact that I put down the fastest lap twice though says enough about the potential of our Accord.?

From the other Honda drivers, in the first heat Wolfgang Treml took sixth place, whilst Peter Rikli ended in eighth position in his Civic. In the second heat Treml took fourth place, ahead of Rikli in the Civic and Fischer (7th). To?ic also won both races in the Super Production with the Civic Type R, enough to secure the European title in this category.