MASS BECOMES A WEIGHTY ISSUE

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Alfa Romeo Squadra Corse is yet again penalised by constantly changing MSA regulations, calls for a more stable rule base

Alfa Romeo Squadra Corse’s 147GTAs have yet again been penalised with the recent adjustment to base weights publicised in Motorsport South Africa’s latest production car circular 5 (05) of 15.04.2005.

Alfa Romeo 147

This base weight change fits seamlessly in a long history of weight penalties and resulting challenges for the Alfa Romeo works racing team.

The Alfa Romeo 147 GTAs entered the 2004 season with an agreed base weight 50kg lighter than championship defenders, BMW, in line with the difference usually applied in similar racing series’ when FWD cars compete with RWD cars.

After Alfa Romeo took the leadership in the class A championship in August 2004, MSA then reduced the team’s weight advantage down to 30kg in September.

This resulted in the team battling to keep its’ competitiveness but notwithstanding this it managed to improve the cars and challenge BMW for the title until the last race at Kyalami in November 2004.

The 147GTA’s base weight was then adjusted again after the first round of the 2005 championship in March 2005, reducing the base weight difference between the 147GTAs and the BMW 330s by a further 10kg to now read only 20kg lighter than BMW and below the international mark that sees the FWD disadvantage at about –30kg vs a RWD vehicle.

The team felt the consequences of this at round 2 of the championship at Killarney/Cape Town on April 02nd, not being able to go better than two third places on the day.

MSA has yet again increased the base weight of the 147GTAs by another 10kg starting with the Phakisa race meeting of April 30th, 2005.  In essence, the Alfas are now just 10kg lighter than the BMWs, which does not aptly compensate for the FWD disadvantage.

 “Considering our significant investment in national racing, we are sad that our efforts have continuously been vanified by MSA,” said Michael Burkhart, General Marketing Manager of Fiat Auto SA.

“We are now at a point where we need to reconsider the value of our investment in developing and testing our vehicles on an ongoing basis.  To make it worthwhile to upgrade continuously the performance of the 147GTAs through better components and telemetry testing we need a solid and foreseeable planning framework, both from a technical and financial basis.”

Fiat Auto SA’s philosophy about national racing has always been to promote better sport and an improved show for the spectators and that outlook has prevailed for the meantime. “Despite our strong disappointment and disapproval of the new base weights, we will race at Phakisa due to the overwhelming support we receive from the press, the public and anybody whose heart is with circuit racing in South Africa,” said Burkhart. “but they need to know the base weight realities of the series to fully understand each competitor’s performance.”

“We need now to revert to the base weight situation valid before the Kyalami race which has proven to provide excellent motor racing entertainment.  Future changes to these weights need to be discussed carefully with all parties involved, considering the development of the vehicles going forward and if changes are agreed, a reasonable phase-in timing must be part of the process,” said Burkhart in a call to MSA.