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After 4 years seeing Johnny Cecotto in action again...

Friday June 16th 2006 at Nürburgring, Germany
Today I was going all on my own to the Nürburgring in Germany. It was a special day because this time I would see Johnny Cecotto himself in action again. Beside that also Johnny jr. was going to race in Formula 3 as a replacement with the Italian Ombra racing team. I left at 05.30 hours and arrived without problems at the circuit at 08.15 hours. However....without problems. Just before the circuit I was flashed for high speeding. At the circuit I had to wait at the parking lot for a quarter before it opened as for they didn't have the key yet. After having parked I walked to the circuit and called Johnny to ask where I had to meet him and that seemed to be at the entrance of the old paddock. He had forgotten the driver meeting and came rushing by together with Johnny jr. and would return soon with a pass for me. Some time later Johnny jr. returned and took me to the Ombra racing team where his Formula 3 car stood. Shortly after Johnny Cecotto came in and welcomed me. Together we went to the AtTrack team where the Subaru Impreza WRX TSI was standing of which Johnny would compete in the 24 hour race this weekend. The team manager also seemed to know me as for he took information from my site. Also Johnny's team mates Thomas Riethmüller and Diego Romanini were already there. After Johnny had dressed and Johnny jr. had taped off his father's helmet we walked to the pit box where the car was waiting. While Johnny prepared himself and got into the car I made some photographs. Practice started at 10.00 hours and would last till 12.00 hours. While Johnny sat in the car all things were discussed. After he had ignited the car Cecotto gave me a thumbs up because I just wanted to make a picture. Some time after he drove outside to take part in practice as first driver. After half an hour Johnny Cecotto came back into the pit and parked the car in front of the pit box. Some matters were discussed and Johnny gave some advices to Romanini who now took seat in the car. It was very crowdie in the pit with lots of cars and also people. Also there were a lot of different cars in variation from Porsche and BMW M3 till Mini Cooper and VW Gulf. If you look at it securely it's very dangerous because there's so much variation in cars and also in drivers. There was a driver who was so big he almost literally had to be pushed into his car. And you have to know the Nordschleife is a very long and difficult circuit. Johnny himself also said it was a bit crazy. The tires were looked after intensively and talked over by Johnny with team manager Ulrich Schiefer and a tire company delegation. After Romanini came in again it was the turn to Riethmüller now. But neither of them was able to improve the time of Johnny and finally they came to 52e position out of the 225 competitors. All together it wasn't a bad result at all. The car was taken back to the tent where would be a lot of work on it the rest of the day. Later today there would be a practice in the evening at 19.30 hours which would last until 23.00 hours. I didn't see neither Cecotto's anymore and went to the other side of the circuit to sit on the grandstand and watch at the Youngtimer race and to have something to eat. Then I went back to the Ombra racing team and made some pictures from the car of Johnny jr. who wasn't there himself. Now there were stickers on the car with his name and from his sponsors. After this I went to the NGK chicane to take a look there. When I returned at the AtTrack tent at about 15.30 hours Cecotto seemed to have missed me. I explained to have gone to look at the race. I watched around at the team a bit and after which Johnny walked with me to the Ombra racing team and talked a bit about the Formula 3 car. Johnny now went to his motor home for some time while I looked around at the Formula 3 paddock. There were a lot of familiar drivers from last year's Formula BMW like Nico Hülkenberg and Natacha Gachnang. I took something to eat again afterwards and went to sit at the Ombra racing team to wait for the preparations of practice which would start at 18.15 hours. At 17.30 hours Johnny jr. came in with his racing gear on to take seat in his car a little later. The car was pushed outside and was ignited to be driven towards the pit. I went back to the NGK chicane to take some more photographs during practice. Then I got to the straight to take some pictures again. I didn't know which position Johnny jr. had but it sure looked very good to me. When practice was over I went to eat something at the snack bar after which I went back again to the AtTrack team. There I asked Johnny Cecotto what Johnny jr. had done and proudly he told me he had reached 7th spot. A fantastic result were also my thoughts. Practice for the 24 hour was already started but the Subaru still was in the tent. But soon Cecotto got in the car and drove to the pit. There he almost immediately left to get onto the track. I went to the back of the straight to get onto the standings to take some photographs of him there. Finally I saw Johnny in full action again. With such an amount of cars on the track it was difficult to see when Cecotto was to arrive. But you could easily see he still is very competitive because he was a lot faster than many of the other drivers. After a few laps however he came by in slow speed and I went back to the pit box where nobody of the team was to be seen. Arriving at the tent there was a lot of working going on to the car which was pretty much damaged on the front left. Also Johnny jr. was helping with the taping of the damaged headlight. Shortly after Johnny jr. came outside and I gave him a tap on his shoulder and gave him my compliments with his result in practice of the Formula 3. He was surely very pleased and he thanked me. He walked away together with Johnny and the team manager to get back again after some 15 minutes. After about one and a half hour of reparation the car was driven to the pit again by Cecotto. When he wanted to get into practice there seemed to be more problems again. The exhaust smoked a lot when the engine was started and it didn't look good. Cecotto looked from behind the car and it seemed to be on on side a bit. The car was pushed back inside again and they started to work on it again. Romanini stepped inside again to try to take part in practice but again there was seen a lot of smoke. They weren't able to go into practice again and the car was pushed back to the tent. It already had become 22.15 hours. Johnny jr. went to his motorhome and already said good bye to me and I wished him all the best for the races of tomorrow. Johnny Cecotto went to change himself and talked a bit with his team. At 22.45 hours we walked together to the Ombra racing team to see if there was still anyone there. They were still working on the engine of the car of Johnny Cecotto jr.'s team mate. We did sit down there for a while with a mechanic at the back of the tent and talked a bit while Johnny took something to eat. Johnny didn't knew if the Subaru could be fixed in time for the race of tomorrow. The suspension and turbo of the engine were broken and there seemed to be some more unknown problems as well. At 23.30 hours it really was time for me to go. With Johnny I walked to the exit of the paddock and we said good bye. Johnny had told his father Giovanni would be at Oschersleben the next race but probably I won't be able to be there. Hopefully he will be there also in Assen so I can finally meet him some time. Who knows. Finally after almost 3 hours of driving in the dark I came back home at 02.15 hours. I was very tired but yet satisfied because after all I had seen Johnny Cecotto racing himself again. The next day it appeared the engine of the car wasn't to be repaired in time and the AtTrack team regrettably wasn't able to take part in the 24 hours race.

24 h - ATS Formula 3 Nürburgring 2006

Johnny Cecotto in the Subaru
Johnny Cecotto & Diego Romanini
Johnny Cecotto jr.