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Day 1

Five ETCC cars came to Vallelunga for the three-day testing organised by Michelin. Today the weather was sunny and warm and Nicola Larini confirmed the good impression given by the new Alfa Romeo 156 Gta in Super 2000 specs during the previous test in Misano a couple of weeks ago.

Larini, at the wheel of the N.Technology's test car was fastest in the morning with a time of 1:18.61, then went down to 1:18.47 in the afternoon.

Tomorrow he should be replaced by teammate Fabrizio Giovanardi. Two BMW 320is took part in today's session: both where interim cars, one each run by Schnitzer Motorsport and Ravaglia Motorsport.

Spanish driver Jordi Gené - who is very close to sign for the Italian team - clocked a time of 1:19.65 in the morning and improved to 1:19.27 in the afternoon at the wheel of the Ravaglia car.

German Jörg Müller in the Schnitzer car set a 1:19.80 in the morning, but he did not test in the afternoon. "We had an engine problem," BMW Motorsport engineer Andreas Bellu revelead.

The team is expected to continue testing tomorrow using a Super Production power plant, with Jörg Müller sharing the car with Dirk Müller.

Prodrive tested its laboratory Volvo S60 that is not yet complying with the Super 2000 specifications. Swede Rickard Rydell's fastest times were 1:19.63 in the morning and 1:19.41 in the afternoon.

Young Briton James Hanson, recently named as the team's second driver, also covered a few laps in the late afternoon. Hanson will have more time to drive tomorrow.

RJN Motorsport is testing with a 2001 Super Production Nissan Primera equipped with a Super 2000 power plant. Norwegian driver Tommy Rustad set his best time at 1:22.45.

Day 2

Nicola Larini and his N.Technology Alfa Romeo 156 Gta confirmed their pacesetter role in Vallelunga on the second day of Michelin testing for the FIA ETCC new Super 2000 cars. The Italian driver set the fastest time of the day during the morning session with an outstanding 1:17.87, improving his yesterday's best by six tenths of a second.

In the afternoon Larini passed the wheel to Fabrizio Giovanardi. Despite a mistake in the early laps that ended in a spin-off against the barrier that slightly damaged the Alfa 156's front left fender, it did not take long to the 2001 European Super Touring Champion for clocking quick times. Giovanardi's best was 1:18.31 set in the late afternoon.

On BMW side, Jordi Gené and his Ravaglia Motorsport 320i covered hundredths of kilometres before stopping for a while due to some gearbox problems that were quickly solved. The Spaniard improved his day-one time by eight tenths, going down to 1:18.53 and then to 1:18.51. On the second BMW, run by Schnitzer Motorsport and fitted with a Super Production engine after yesterday's problems, Dirk Müller and Swede Fredrik Ekblom took the wheel alternatively testing different aerodynamics solutions. The best time were 1:20.49 and 1:20.57 for Ekblom and Müller respectively.

At Prodrive, Rickard Rydell continued his job to develop the Volvo S60 under the interested eyes of Volvo Motorsport boss Olle Odsell. Rydell improved to 1:18.89 before giving the car to James Hanson who had a good progression going down to 1:20.00 in a short time.

After having tested yesterday a first-step Super 2000 engine, RJN Motorsport fitted its Nissan Primera with a Super Production power plant and continued testing the 15" Michelin tyres. Tommy Rustad set his best time of the day at 1:21.91 that is quite a good one for an SP machine.

Testing will finish tomorrow. In the picture Schnitzer Motorsport team manager Charly Lamm speaking to his former driver and now fellow BMW team manager Roberto Ravaglia.

Day 3

The three-day Michelin tyre tests for the FIA ETCC new Super 2000 cars ended today on high notes. In the late afternoon Rickard Rydell at the wheel of his Prodrive Volvo S60 set his fastest lap with 1:17.93, only six hundredths of a second slower than the best time so far obtained on Saturday morning by Nicola Larini in the N.Technology Alfa Romeo 156 Gta.

A few moments after Rydell's exploit, Fabrizio Giovanardi in the Alfa stopped watches at 1:17.85, claiming a virtual pole position for the three days.

Today Giovanardi and Rydell were the fastest drivers on the track by far as BMW concentrated on long runs to check the 17" tyres durability. Ravaglia Motorsport's Jordi Gené was clocked at 1:18.99, while Schnitzer Motorsport's Dirk Müller and Fredrik Ekblom set 1:20.19 and 1:20.21 respectively, both at the wheel of a 320i fitted with a Super Production engine.

At Prodrive, James Hanson continued his apprenticeship in the Volvo, improving to 1:19.29.

A surprise was to see former F3 and Super Touring driver Fabrizio De Simone driving the Ravaglia Motorsport BMW for a few laps. The 31-year-old De Simone's name is on top of the list Roberto Ravaglia drew up to choose Gené's teammate.

During the three days at Vallelunga the cars covered a great deal of laps, with Ravaglia's BMW exceeding the 1000 km mark, followed by the Prodrive Volvo (about 1000) and the N.Technology Alfa (around 800); none of them suffered for major technical problems.

Mathieu Bonardel of Michelin Compétition commented: "We are really pleased for the work done. During the three days we have used more than 350 tyres, testing ten different solutions of slicks and that enabled us to choose the tyre we will supply to the 2002 ETCC competitors. It was not difficult because all the three manufacturers officially represented pointed on the same choice that proved to suit to both the front and rear-wheel-drive. The tyre we chose is half a second faster then the BTCC BF Goodrich we used as "reference"."

Here is a recap of the three-day best times: Giovanardi (Alfa) 1:17.85, Larini (Alfa) 1:17.87, Rydell (Volvo) 1:17.93, Gené (BMW) 1:18.51, Hanson (Volvo) 1:19.29, J. Müller (BMW) 1:19.80, D. Müller (BMW) 1:20.19, Ekblom (BMW) 1:20.21, Rustad (Nissan) 1:21.91.
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