Dijon Saturday Second Qualifying Session

FIA GT Championship 10 - 12 July 1998 Dijon Round Saturday 11 July 1998 - 2nd Qualifying Practice Session Weather The weekend of strange weather continues to be the number one subject of conversation at Dijon, with sun following the showers,...

FIA GT Championship 10 - 12 July 1998 Dijon Round Saturday 11 July 1998 - 2nd Qualifying Practice Session

Weather

The weekend of strange weather continues to be the number one subject of conversation at Dijon, with sun following the showers, and a dry second qualifying session in prospect - to the slight dismay of the GT2 cars who qualified ahead of the GT1s in the first session.

Amazing Schneider

The reigning FIA GT Champion, Bernd Schneider, once again put his AMG Mercedes car on pole position for Sunday's 500 km of Dijon, with an amazing lap of 1:08.762 round the 3.8 km circuit. This was three seconds faster than his best Friday time. "I enjoyed it," Schneider said of his special lap. "It was not far off the maximum. The car was perfect." Nearly a second slower, Ricardo Zonta, qualifying the n02 AMG car, will start alongside Schneider tomorrow. He explained his slower time by the fact that he did not push his first qualifying tyres to the limits, and then made a mistake on the second set. "Schneider's time was very good," the young Brazilian said. "Seven tenths is a big difference on a short circuit like this. We must work very hard to challenge in the race tomorrow."

Porsche third and fifth

Third place on tomorrow's grid goes to Porsche AG, with their '98 version Porsche 911 GT1. Uwe Alzen set the third best time in the n0 8 car, while McNish and Dalmas will start from fifth position. "I am absolutely happy with this result," Alzen said. "The balance was not so bad. But when you see Schneider's time - it's unbelievable ! We must really work hard tomorrow. We have some problems with the race set-up, and need to work during the warm-up." Porsche was expected to be closer to the Mercedes cars on this tight circuit. "We are a little bit closer," Alzen said. "This circuit is better for us." Fourth on the grid is the Persson Mercedes CLK-GTR, which was qualified by Christophe Bouchut. "It was OK. We made a lot of small changes, and although I didn't have much time to test them, they seemed to work when I put the qualifiers on." The second Persson car starts in sixth place, with Gounon a second slower than Bouchut. The Panoz had some difficulties this session, with a broken prop-shaft losing them a lot of time. They got out at the end of the session, but although they improved to 7th overall, the prop-shaft went again and they finished in the gravel.

4th GT2 pole for Beretta and Lamy

After Marcos setting the best time in the first qualifying session, the Vipers regained the upper hand in the warmer, dry afternoon session. Beretta's time of 1:16.679, set quite early on in the session was only fractionally slower than Schneider's provisional pole from the morning. "It's not exactly easy, but Chrysler have done a very good job. I hope it'll be a nice race tomorrow. Some fighting between us and the Porsche cars would be nice for the spectators, but I hope Chrysler win !" Karl Wendlinger set the second time, in spite of missing a gear in the downhill section, locking up the wheels and hitting the barrier. "They changed part of the bumper, but the car is fine," the Austrian said. Third fastest GT2 was the n056 Roock Porsche, driven this weekend by Claudia H|rtgen and Emmanuel Collard. Collard, who drives a Ferrari 333SP in the ISRS and who drove for Toyota at Le Mans, is finding driving a GT2 a different experience. "It's very difficult as it's so different. The car has lots of oversteer, but we've found a good set-up now so it's not so bad for the race."

GT2 Quotes

"I thought we'd be quicker. Or rather I didn't expect the others to be quite as quick as they were. The Vipers are unreal !" Christian Vann, Marcos LM600, qualifying 4th in GT2.

"We're struggling. The car is good when the track is cold, but as soon as the temperature rises, the Dunlop tyres loose all grip. I think it's something to do with the weight." Gary Ayles, Chamberlain Engineering Viper GTR, 7th in GT2

"Don't ask !" Bernhard M|ller, Krauss Race Sports International, 12th GT2. "We don't know what it is. More time would help. We're so far back, we don't know where to start. But it's a long race tomorrow, and we will just have to try and keep clear and drive through it."

"I'm learning, gradually. It's my first time in a GT car, and I've done about 20 laps this weekend. At least I know the circuit, as I drove here earlier this year in French Formula 3. My goal is to finish the race without any problems," Stiphane Sarraz, Konrad Motorsport Porsche 911 GT2.

Final Word

"All the drivers should have to drive a GT2 before they can drive a GT1. That way they'd have more respect for the GT2 drivers. I know I have now !" Gary Ayles, on the transition between GT1 and GT2.

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Ricardo Zonta , Emmanuel Collard , Bernd Schneider , Uwe Alzen , Christophe Bouchut , Christian Vann , Gary Ayles