LISTER RACING ON POLE POSITION
Lister Racing claimed pole position for the first round of the 2003 FIA GT Championship in Barcelona today, with a lap of 1:40.975 for British driver Jamie Campbell-Walter. He set the time early on in the morning session, leading the two BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello cars of Cappellari/Gollin and Biagi/Bobbi. "I am very pleased for the whole team. I think the race result will be down to the tyres, and the drivers will have to do everything they can to look after them. Hopefully we'll come out on top," Jamie said later.
TEAM MARANELLO CONCESSIONAIRES TAKES POLE BUT STARTS FROM THE BACK
Pole in the N-GT category went to British Team Maranello Concessionaires, new to the Championship this year. British newcomer Darren Turner set the time of 1:45.267 during the faster morning session, finishing ahead of Marc Lieb in the nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS and Jamie Davies in the second Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 360 Modena. "I am really pleased," Darren said. "Testing went reasonably well, but I really didn't expect pole position on my first time in the Championship. But the team is very professional, and we are all here to win !" However, the car will start from the back of the grid after it was involved in a collision in the second qualifying session, which was deemed to be an avoidable accident by the Stewards. This will promote the nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche of Lieb and Maassen into the front of the N-GT field.
FIRST QUALIFYING SESSION
An extremely close first qualifying session, which took place in the bright Barcelona sunshine, saw the first five cars set times within six tenths of a second, with four different makes represented in the top six. Jamie Campbell-Walter set the fastest time early in the session, with a lap of 1:40.975, at the wheel of the nr 14 Lister Storm. The two BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello cars set the second and third times, with Gollin just 0.163 seconds off Campbell-Walter's pace, while Thomas Biagi was a further tenth of a second behind. Andrea Piccini, who is still adapting to the Lister Storm he first drove earlier this week, set the fourth-best time, with a lap of 1:41.539.
The Graham Nash Saleen S7-R of Erdos and Newton was fifth, with the nr 1 Larbre Competition Chrysler Viper rounding off the top six, but over a second slower than the Saleen. In N-GT, there was a close battle between the two Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 360 Modena cars and the two Porsche 996 GT3-RS of Freisinger Motorsport. Although Marc Lieb took provisional pole early on, the nr 89 Ferrari of Burt and Turner improved, setting a lap of 1:45.762 which remained fastest until the end of the 45-minute session. There were problems for JMB Racing, with the nr 9 car of Babini and Peter only completing three laps before stopping due to a leak, and the nr 10 car, driven by Terrien, Pescatori and Derichebourg, stopping out on the circuit, with its second engine failure of the weekend.
Both the nr 16 Wieth Racing Ferrari 550 Marenello and the nr 75 Team Eurotech Porsche 996 GT3-RS cars had their times removed after scrutineering, due to the rear wing failing to comply with the regulations for the nr 75 Porsche, and the rear wing and front spoiler failing to comply for the Wieth Racing Ferrari.
SECOND QUALIFYING SESSION
Temperatures were warmer for the second session, and as has been predicted, there were very few improvements. Fastest in the session was the nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello of Thomas Biagi and Matteo Bobbi, setting a time of 1:44.882. The nr 7 Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7-R of Erdos and Newton was second fastest, with Bouchut and Belloc in the nr 1 Larbre Competition Chrysler Viper GTS-R third. The nr 9 JMB Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello was one of the few cars to improve, with a lap of 1:46.852 which placed them fourth overall, ahead of the nr 2 Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7-R. Best of the N-GT cars was the nr 99 RWS Yukos Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS of Walter Lechner Jr. and Stéphane Daoudi, ahead of Lieb and Maassen in the nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-R, despite a spin for Lieb which briefly brought the red flags out.
The session was halted shortly before the end, after a collision when the nr 89 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 360 Modena, hit the Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7-R, which had spun into the gravel and was being attended by a towing truck. Due to this incident, the Stewards decided that the nr 89 Ferrari will start from the back of the grid tomorrow. The nr 2 Care Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello, had its times cancelled, as did the nr 51 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS, due to failing to stop at the red light for scrutineering.
NOTES AND QUOTES
Philippe Alliot - nr 4 Force One Chrysler Viper GTS-R : "We are really disappointed with our performance so far. There are no real problems that we can find, we are just not competitive enough. The car is very reliable, which is our main weapon, but we are still really worried. We will have to work really hard to try and make up for the delay. We have a few ideas, and we will have to work hard before Magny Cours."
Boris Derichebourg - nr 10 JMB Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello : "Our weekend is over. After breaking two engines, we don't have any more spare engines. However, the programme was started relatively late, and the team has been rushing to get ready in time for the start of the season. We need more time to get up to speed, but we will be working really hard to be ready for Magny Cours."
Jamie Campbell-Walter - nr 14 Lister Storm - GT Pole Position (fastest after first qualifying) : "I'm very happy, if a little surprised. I knew the Ferraris would be quick as they were here for the test day. But our car has been quite good with the normal set-up. We had a bit of understeer, but we have good grip with new tyres. I think we might keep the pole, as it will be slower and more slippery in the middle of the afternoon. Anyway, I've used both sets of tyres, so I can't go any faster. If anyone does go quicker than me - then good for them ! It was very close out there, and the traffic is pretty bad - there are lots of cars out there and you have to take pot luck. The race will be very hard - off the racing line, it is very slippery. The circuit is very hard on tyres - and I think the race tomorrow will be won more by the tyre companies than by the cars or drivers."
Andrea Piccini and Jean-Denis Deletraz have moved to Lister Racing this season after winning four races for BMS Scuderia Italia last season, and are driving the nr 15 Lister Storm. "I am very happy to be with Lister," Andrea said. "The car is very different from the Ferrari 550 Maranello I drove last year - to start with, I'm driving on the right and shifting with the left hand. But it is going well, and my times are quite close to Jamie's, considering I have only done around 30 laps at Dijon before coming here," Andrea Piccini said. As for Deletraz : "I am still struggling slightly to find the limits of the car, and I am currently too slow compared to Andrea. Our advantage last year was that we were very close. But I will get there; I just need more time. We will try to limit the damage this weekend, and hopefully finish well, but by Magny-Cours, we'll be ready to challenge !"
Wolfgang Kaufmann - nr 16 Wieth Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello : "Everything is going more or less OK. We had problems in the first session and lost our times, but when we went out in the second session, I did two quick laps and managed a lap of 1:46.8, which put us tenth, and in the same second as the cars from third to thirteenth places, which I think is really good. The team has been working really hard, with the mechanics changing the gear ratios overnight. We have prepared the car as best as possible for the first race, as we have not managed to do any long distance runs with the car until now. I would really like to finish the race tomorrow, and hopefully in a good position. The team deserves a little result as they have done so much work, especially after the car crashed during the test day."
Fabrizio Gollin - nr 22 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello: "It was a good time, but it could have been better. On my fastest lap, I lost time overtaking a Porsche that was going slowly through the last two corners. That lap could have been half a second better. But I think everyone had similar traffic problems. I like the Ferrari very much, and I think it is possible to do very well this season."
Tomas Enge - nr 57 MenX Ferrari 360 Modena : "The car is performing quite well, although we need more experience - we've only had two test sessions before the first race, so we expected to struggle slightly. But the car is looking good, and we have no major problems. I'm happy, but I really miss the Superpole. We're currently sixth in N-GT, and with the single lap session, I could have gone for pole." His team-mate is fellow Czech Robert Pergl, who has never raced here before. "The track is quite difficult to find the right rhythm, as there is quite a mix of slow, medium and fast corners."
Marc Lieb - nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS - 3rd in N-GT : "I am very happy with this result, as this is a brand new car, and I do not think it is a Porsche track. I am sorry that Stephane Ortelli cannot drive with me this weekend, but Sascha is a very good driver and I hope we have a good race."
Darren Turner - nr 89 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 360 Modena - 1st in N-GT (but will start from the back of the grid due to an incident in the second qualifying session) : "I am really pleased. Testing went reasonably well, but I really didn't expect pole position on by first time in the Championship. The team is very professional, and is here to win. The Ferrari 360 Modena is very hard work, one of the most difficult cars I have ever driven, but it is extremely rewarding."