Two of the three crews in contention for the 2012 GT1 World Championship topped the timesheets in the second of Friday's two practice sessions for the penultimate round of the series at the Nurburgring in Germany. Points leaders Micheal Bartels and Yelmer Buurman of Vita4One were quickest, setting a 1:56.068 around the Grand Prix track in their BMW Z4 during a cool and overcast session. “The cold conditions are not normally our friend, but we seem to be doing okay,” said Buurman afterwards,” but it's difficult to say what tyres the others are on, so we'll see.”
Fred Makowiecki and Stef Dusseldorp in the HEXIS McLaren were second, just under two-tenths behind the BMW. “It was a really good session,” reported Makowiecki. “We found a good compromise setup – we just have one more adjustment to make tomorrow. The cool air benefits our turbo engine, so we're looking good.” His young German co-driver Stef Dusseldorp echoed Buurman's sentiments about not being sure what tyres their opponents were on, but added that he expected the McLaren to go even quicker tomorrow. The HEXIS duo were further boosted by their sister car going fourth-quickest, thanks to the efforts of Alvaro Parente and Gregoire Demoustier.
Things were going less smoothly in the All-Inkl garage, where a despondent driver/manager Marc Basseng declared: “That wasn't a good session. The car has no grip and we don't really understand why at the moment – we'll have to look at it tonight.” Basseng and fellow drivers' championship contender Markus Winkelhock (currently six points behind Bartels and Buurman in the standings) could only finish in 12th place in the second session, with a time of 1:57.028.
AF Corse Ferrari's Toni Vilander and Filip Salaquarda were fastest in the earlier of the day's two sessions, which also produced a better result for Basseng and Winkelhock, though their second-place time was almost seven-tenths slower than the fast times recorded by the HEXIS and Vita4One cars in the second session. The Ferrari pair also showed well second time out, slotting in sixth behind the Reiter Engineering Lamborghini of Peter Kox and Stefan Rosina.
This weekend's races see the GT1 World and GT3 Europe grids come together for the second time this season, and several of the GT3 cars got amongst their higher-profile GT1 counterparts. GT3 championship frontrunners Max Buhk and Dominik Baumann in the Heico-Gravity-Charouz Mercedes SLS were fourth-quickest overall in the second session, clocking a 1:56.498. There was no on-track activity for the Blancpain Endurance Series today: that kicks off tomorrow morning with an hour-long test session for the series' bronze-rated drivers, before practice and qualifying later in the afternoon.
Story by: Stephen Errity