Hockenheimring: Saturday qualifying report

Weather The weather remained bright and sunny all day, with a light breeze and dry track. Walter Lechner Jr claims Hockenheim pole For the second consecutive race, Walter Lechner Jr will start from pole position, having set a lap of 1:37.132...

Weather
The weather remained bright and sunny all day, with a light breeze and dry track.

Walter Lechner Jr claims Hockenheim pole

For the second consecutive race, Walter Lechner Jr will start from pole position, having set a lap of 1:37.132 in the nr 4 Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7. This is the 22-year-old Austrian's fourth pole position, and the third Saleen pole for this season. "Obviously, I'm very happy to be on pole position," Lechner Jr. said. "But in the past, our problems always started during the race. I hope we'll be able to finish this time and bring our car over the three hours and the 500 km distance. We'll try and make good pit stops, then maybe we can finish on podium."

Second place went to the Magny-Cours winner, the nr 5 Vitaphone Racing Team Saleen S7, with the nr 17 JMB Racing Ferrari 575 M Maranello claiming its best-yet qualifying position in third. It will be an all-Ferrari second row, as the nr 1 BMS car will start fourth, followed by two more Saleen S7s, the nr 28 Graham Nash Motorsport car in an excellent fifth position, and the nr 7 RML car of Erdos and Newton.

Qualifying was extremely close here at Hockenhim, with the top three cars separated by only 97 hundredths of a second, and the top six within a second, promising a tight and tough race tomorrow.

Ortelli takes N-GT pole for Freisinger Motorsport

Stephane Ortelli, who has already set more pole positions than anyone else in the FIA GT Championship, added another to his score today, to bring it up to 11. "I managed to put in a clear, good lap and tried to use the potential of the car to the maximum. Hockenheim seems to be a good circuit for me," Ortelli said. With a lap of 1:41.120 in the first qualifying session, he placed the nr 50 Freisinger Yukos Motorsport in the front of the N-GT cars for tomorrow's 4th round of the FIA GT Championship. He will start ahead of the nr 99 Freisinger Motorsport car driven by German drivers Maassen and Luhr, with the G.P.C Giesse Squadra Corse Ferrari 360 Modena in third. Fourth went to the two Russian drivers Vasiliev and Fomenko in the nr 77 Porsche, with Proton Competition fifth.

Just like in the GT category, the times were extremely close, with the top three drivers setting times within six tenths of a second.

First Qualifying Session : The Saleens rule in Hockenheim An extremely close qualifying session saw the top six set times within 0.844 of a second, with four of them being Saleen S7 cars ! Walter Lechner Jr took provisional pole early on, setting a lap 1:37.132 in the nr 4 Konrad Motorsport Saleen eight minutes into the session, which proved to be unbeatable. "Actually, I thought we could improve more and go under the 1:37 barrier;" Walter explained. "It is very close today between the Saleens and the Ferraris. It will be a very tough and interesting race tomorrow. And as far as I know, I am the only driver in the top to have another set of spare tyres for the afternoon, just in case." Magny-Cours winner Michael Bartels came closest to Walter's time; his lap of 1:37.182 was only 55 thousandths slower. Third fastest was the nr 17 JMB Racing Ferrari 575 M Maranello, only 97 thousandths of a second slower than the Konrad car - meaning that the top three were only separated by a tenth of a second. The nr 1 BMS Ferrari 550 Maranello was fourth, with the nr 28 Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen a fine fifth and the nr 7 RML Saleen of Erdos and Newton sixth. The nr 7 Zwaan's Racing Chrysler Viper was seventh. "It shows the Viper can still do it !" Bouchut said, having set a time just over a second off pole. The Lister Storm was ninth, after a spectacular spin for Tom Coronel.

N-GT was equally close, with the top three within six tenths of a second. Ortelli and Collard, in the nr 50 Freisinger Yukos Porsche, set the provisional pole, with a lap of 1:41.120, with Maassen and Luhr second, and the nr 62 Ferrari 360 third.

The nr 7 RML Saleen lost some of their qualifying times due to ride-height failure, but retained 6th position, the time having been set later. The nr 18 JMB Racing car also lost times due to ride-height failure, and the nr 9 Zwaan's Racing Chrysler Viper due to failing to stop for scrutineering, with neither car meeting the minimum qualifying time in the morning. The nr 57 Vonka Porsche also lost most of its times, having failed to stop for tyre checking.

Second Qualifying : Konrad repeats the feat; Ferrari fastest in N-GT With temperatures higher, the track proved to be slower in the afternoon session. Once again, however, the nr 4 Saleen set the fastest time, with a lap of 1:38.089. The nr 5 Vitaphone Saleen was second-fastest, two tenths slower, with the nr 27 Creation Autosportif Lister Storm improving over the morning's time, setting the third-fastest time and claiming 10th place on the starting grid. Peter and Babini, in the nr 11 G.P.C. Giesse Squadra Corse Ferrari 575 Maranello were fourth, and the only Ferrari in the top five, as Goodwin and Barbosa took fifth in the nr 8 RML Saleen.

In N-GT, the nr 62 G.P.C. Giesse set the fastest time, with a lap of 1:42.034, ahead of the nr 99 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche of Maassen and Luhr, with the nr 50 Porsche of Ortelli and Collard, fastest in the morning session, third in the afternoon.

There were few improvements, although the nr 18 JMB Racing Ferrari 575 M Maranello moved up to 15th after losing its morning times. The nr 69 Proton Porsche, nr 56 AB Motorsport and nr 57 Vonka Racing all managed to improve their times. The nr 9 Zwaan's Racing Chrysler Viper, which lost its morning times due to failing to comply with the weighing procedure, lost its afternoon times due to the non-compliance of the front splitter. This means that the car has not set a qualifying time, and it will have to start from the back of tomorrow's grid.

To the back of the grid !

The one-engine-per-event rule, which came into force at the start of this season, has been seen in action at this race. The nr 2 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello has changed an engine after problems in second qualifying; likewise, the nr 14 Lister Storm had an engine failure after over-revving. The nr 13 G.P.C. Ferrari has also changed an engine. According to the regulations, the cars will line up by chronological order of receiving the notification. This means that the nr 2 (which qualified 12th) will be ahead of the nr 13 Ferrari and the nr 14 Lister Storm. The nr 9 Zwaan's Racing Chrysler Viper will start behind them all.

Scrutineering issues

Following a report from the FIA Technical director concerning the nr 14 Lister Storm, it was decided to allow the car to participate in the event. Any championship points eventually scored by this team and drivers at this event will be allocated only under the condition of obtaining the homologation before the next championship event.

Stewards' Decisions

Although Uwe Alzen, absent for family reasons, was not able to qualify for Sunday's race, it was accepted as force majeure and he has been authorised to participate in the race in the nr 5 Saleen S7, as long as he is not the starting driver.

-fia-

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Stéphane Ortelli , Uwe Alzen
Teams Proton Competition