Donington: Round five qualifying notes

Weather Dry and overcast, growing warmer throughout the day. First pole position for Force One Festina Philippe Alliot took his first pole position in the FIA GT Championship at Donington today, with a time of 1:29.361 in the nr 4 Chrysler...

Weather
Dry and overcast, growing warmer throughout the day.

First pole position for Force One Festina

Philippe Alliot took his first pole position in the FIA GT Championship at Donington today, with a time of 1:29.361 in the nr 4 Chrysler Viper GTS-R. He set the time in the first qualifying session, just 0.054 faster than Jean-Marc Gounon in the Konrad Saleen S7-R, pole-sitter for the past two races. "This is really something great for us, because we just started to build our own team one year ago. This pole position, the first one for our team, was a big surprise for us. After a difficult start, we are getting to know the car and the Championship and now we are competitive," said Alliot. Former Formula One driver Alliot shares the car with Force One co-founder , the French rock singer and composer David Hallyday, and with young Swiss driver Steve Zacchia. This is the first time this season that a Chrysler Viper has taken pole position this season, after a Lister Storm in Barcelona, a Ferrari 550 Maranello in Magny-Cours and the Saleen S7-R in the past two races. The Force One Viper will start alongside the nr 2 Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7-R, with the nr 14 Lister Storm of Campbell-Walter, Kinch and Coronel sharing the second row with the second Force One car of Hezemans and Kumpen.

N-GT pole for Burt and Team Maranello Concessionaires

Kelvin Burt claimed pole position in the N-GT category today, in the nr 89 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 360 Modena. The car set a time of 1:33.558 in the morning session, when it only completed ten laps. "I did a very fast lap, which was a bit surprising, as we did not go that fast yesterday, and I could criticise the lap, as there were many, many little mistakes. I could have gone faster, and I was surprised when I saw the time. We've led all four races at some time, but we haven't managed to get a win yet. So I hope that tomorrow will go better." The car will start from 17th place on the grid, ahead of the nr 50 Freisinger Porsche of Ortelli and Lieb, with the nr 61 EMKA Racing Porsche third. The team's second car, of Davies and Mullen, will start from fourth on the grid.

First Qualifying Session : Alliot leads

A frantic and action-packed qualifying session set much of the grid for Sunday's three-hour, 500 km race. As the session started, as well as spins for both the nr 14 and nr 15 Lister Storms, there was a heavy crash for the nr 22 BMS Ferrari 550 Maranello. Gollin, at the wheel of the car at the time, did not set a competitive time in the session, but the team expected to be able to repair the car before the second session. Bobbi, in the nr 23 Ferrari 550 Maranello, was the first on provisional pole, but he was soon ousted by 2002 Donington winner,Mike Hezemans, in the nr 5 Force One Chrysler Viper. The Lister Storms, recovering after their spins, moved up to the top three. 17 minutes into the session, Philippe Alliot set a time of 1:29.361, taking provisional pole from his team-mate Hezemans, at that point the only two cars to have gone below the 1:30 barrier. With 15 minutes remaining, Jamie Campbell-Walter set a time of 1:29.760, splitting the two Chrysler Vipers. Finally, towards the end of the 45-minute session, a series of fast laps for Jean-Marc Gounon, in the nr 2 Konrad Saleen, saw the Frenchman move up to second, just 0.054 seconds behind Alliot. However, he was not able to remove his fellow-Frenchman from pole. When the chequered flag fell, the nr 4 Chrysler Viper led ahead of the nr 2 Konrad Saleen and the nr 14 Lister Storm. The second Force One Chrysler Viper was fourth, with the Graham Nash Saleen of Erdos and Newton fifth, and Championship leaders Biagi and Bobbi sixth. The top five cars were separated by under 0.6 of a second.

In N-GT, Ortelli took provisional pole early in the session, in the nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS. The nr 61 EMKA Racing car moved up to second after ten minutes, and shortly afterwards, they were both eclipsed by Kelvin Burt, who set a time of 1:33.558 in the nr 89 TMC Ferrari 360 Modena, which was not to be beaten throughout the session. The order remained the same at the top of the N-GT category, with Drivers Classification leaders Bertolini and De Simone in the nr 52 Ferrari 360 Modena setting the fourth time, and newcomers Smith and Kirkaldy fifth in the nr 80 Veloqx Motorsport Ferrari 360 Modena.

Second Qualifying : Force One repeat their feat

After taking provisional pole in the morning session, Force One continued to dominate the qualifying at Donington Park, with Mike Hezemans and Anthony Kumpen setting the fastest time in the afternoon session. With a lap of 1:29.964, the nr 5 Chrysler Viper was the only car to go under the 1:30 barrier in the slightly warmer temperatures. However, the time was still three hundredths of a second slower than their morning time, and they remained fourth on the grid for tomorrow's race. The nr 4 car of Alliot, Hallyday and Zacchia was second fastest, but as no-one was able to beat their morning time of 1:29.361, the team captured its first pole position in its FIA GT career.

There were few improvements, with only the nr 22 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello making a significant improvement, after their morning crash. Gollin set a time of 1:30.604, third fastest in the session, which has placed him 8th on the grid for tomorrow's race. Deletraz and Piccini, in the nr 15 Lister Storm, set the fourth time in the session, with Erdos and Newton fifth.

There were more improvements in N-GT. TMC dominated the session, with the nr 88 and 89 cars fastest. Davies and Mullen set a time of 1:34.512, knocking four tenths off their morning time and moving up to fourth in the class, while the nr 51 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche of Gardel and Longin, third fastest in the afternoon, took nearly a second off their morning qualifying time to move up two places to eighth.

However, Burt's time of 1:33.558 remained the reference point, and the nr 89 car took the N-GT pole. Although the nr 61 EMKA Porsche 996 GT3-RS improved to second, the car failed a ride-height test, having its fastest afternoon time removed. This meant that the nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche of Ortelli and Lieb will start from second on the N-GT grid, with the nr 61 EMKA Racing Porsche of Collard and Sugden third.

Max Mosley visits the LG Super Racing Weekend

FIA President Max Mosley visited the Donington round of the LG Super Racing Weekend today. As well as walking through the paddock and grid, he talked with a number of journalists. "This is my first visit, and the thing that impresses me most is the size and scale of the operation. It is much bigger and more impressive than I imagined it would be. There seems to be a very nice atmosphere," he said.

NOTES AND QUOTES

Philippe Alliot -- nr 4 Force One Festina Chrysler Viper GTS-R : " This is really something great for us, because, with David Hallyday, we only started building our own team a year ago. We had our first victory in the French GT Championship in Dijon earlier this year, and now the first pole position here, which is excellent for our very young team. This pole was a big surprise for us. Last year we joined the FIA GT Championship with a Ferrari 550 Maranello, which was a big problem for us, and we decided to end the season with a Viper. Now, we are getting to know both the car and the Championship and finally we are competitive. The second car is also very competitive. I would also like to say that I was very happy that Nicola Larini is on pole position in the FIA European Touring Car Championship, as thirteen years ago we were team-mates in Formula One."

Jean-Marc Gounon -- nr 2 Konrad Saleen S7-R : "Like every weekend, we had a few problems to start with. First of all, there was a mistake in the gearbox, and then it rained, which meant we couldn't work on the qualifying set-up until this morning. But the set-up we found this morning was rather lucky, and we knew it was not too bad. Second place is fine for us for the race; I think I could have got pole today, as during my good lap I caught a Ferrari in the downhill section, and I slid, which cost me the best time of the day. But in any case the car looks to be easy to drive for the other drivers in my car, which is very important for the race, and our real aim is to reach the chequered flag tomorrow."

Jamie Campbell-Walter -- nr 14 Lister Storm : "Basically, it rained overnight, and our car was not as fast as it was yesterday. Normally we gain about a second in qualifying, but this time the improvement was only around two tenths. But it's very close out there and I am not too upset with third. It would have been nice to be on pole for our home race, but for some reason it did not go our way. The track just wasn't suited to our set-up. But with the rubber put down throughout the day, although my times were not quicker, the car felt much, much better, so we are happy for the race. It's handling very well and we'll see how we get on."

Fabrizio Gollin -- nr 22 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello : "It was my mistake; the tyres were not as warm as I thought they were. I had a little oversteer, touched the grass and went off. Luckily when I crossed the track I was able to turn the car, and therefore had a lateral impact with the barriers instead of front on. The car is not too damaged and I'll be out again in second qualifying."

Matteo Bobbi -- nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello : "It was not so bad, and I am quite happy with my time. Although I had traffic on my best lap -- the track is quite small, and there seems to be a lot of cars out there ! I am pleased that only one Lister is ahead of us, which is good for the Championship. His team-mate Thomas Biagi added : "It is going OK; the car is consistent, and I did a long run in the second session. I think the race is going to be difficult and hard, and the 100 kg is quite penalising on this circuit."

Kelvin Burt -- nr 89 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 360 Modena : "I did a very fast lap, which was a bit surprising, considering our times yesterday. I could criticise the lap, as there were a lot of small mistakes, and I was surprised when I saw the time. I didn't do many laps after that, but there is still a lot more to be done to the car. Being on home territory doesn't really give us an advantage as most people know the track, and we have to be fast everywhere anyway. We've had problems in most races so far -- we've led all four races at some time, but we haven't managed to get a win yet. So I hope that tomorrow will go better."

Stephane Ortelli -- nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS : "Second place for us is very good, especially considering how far behind we were yesterday in the first practice session. We were quickest in the rain, but it is good for us to be back with a good time in the dry. I was very pleased with the set-up this afternoon, and it should be very good for tomorrow."

Tim Sugden -- nr 61 EMKA Racing Porsche 996 GT3-RS : "Emmanuel is going very well, and its good to have a team-mate like him in the car with me. We have similar ideas on the car. This is the first time I've had another experienced Porsche driver in the car with me. The car has gone very well, we were quickest yesterday. We tried something in qualifying this morning which didn't work; this afternoon we were quite a bit quicker than anyone else and we did move up to second, but unfortunately we failed a ride-height test and therefore we will be third on the grid. But I think we have a very good car. I think it'll be a good race tomorrow."

Godfrey Jones -- nr 75 Team Eurotech Porsche 996 GT3-RS : "It's not absolutely perfect, but it's all right. We changed the settings from yesterday, and we had hoped to get a 1:34, but it was not to be. We used our tyres in the morning, and so there is no point trying to improve in the afternoon. We'll just concentrate on bedding in the brakes and sorting out the set-up for the race tomorrow."

-fiagt-

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Fabrizio Gollin , Stéphane Ortelli , Philippe Alliot , Matteo Bobbi , Jamie Campbell-Walter , Mike Hezemans , Kelvin Burt , Tim Sugden , Jean-Marc Gounon , Thomas Biagi , Godfrey Jones , Steve Zacchia , David Hallyday