Although the sky remained overcast, the weather at the Jarama circuit was slightly warmer for the Superpole session, with occasional sunshine breaking through the clouds.
Bouchut (FRA - Larbre Chereau Chrysler Viper GTS-R) takes GT pole For the first time since the third round of the season at Magny Cours, the Championship-winning nr 7 Larbre Competition Chéreau Chrysler Viper GTS-R will start from pole position. Bouchut, who was also fastest in the morning qualifying session, put in an excellent lap despite a slide under braking at one point. "I thought I’d lost it all then, so I decided I had nothing more to lose and really went for it," Christophe said. Alongside him on the grid will be the nr 12 Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper GTS-R of Vincent Vosse and Boris Derichebourg, a fast lap from Vosse giving the car its best qualifying position for some time. Emmanuel Clérico was third fastest, in the nr 11 Belmondo Viper, with Alain Menu fourth in the nr 15 Prodrive Ferrari 550 Maranello. Lister Storm Racing, having qualified for the Superpole with both cars, did not manage to set a time with either of them. The nr 1 Storm had to have its engine changed, and chose not to take part in the session, while the nr 2 pulled into the pits after its warm-up lap, after a broken oil pipe caused the car to fill with smoke.
Riccitelli (ITA– RWS Porsche 996 GT3-R) on the N-GT pole Luca Riccitelli, currently leading the N-GT Championship, set the fastest time in the Superpole session, after an excellent lap of 1:36.077. He will start from fifth place on the grid for tomorrow’s 500 km race, due to the two Lister Storms failing to set a time. Second place was taken by Fabio Babini, in the nr 54 Art Engineering, less than a tenth of a second slower than Riccitelli. Sebastien Dumez was third, in the nr 50 Larbre Competition Chéreau Porsche 996 GT3-R. Wolfgang Kaufmann, returning to the Championship with the Escuderia Bengala Porsche, was fourth, after some confusion during his warm-up lap, when he found himself closer than normal to Christian Pescatori, who was on his flying lap. Pescatori took the final N-GT position in the Superpole, and his nr 62 Ferrari Modena 360 will start from tenth place on the grid, just behind Tim Sugden’s EMKA Racing Porsche 996 GT3-R.
Second Qualifying Session
The second qualifying practice session started with Anthony Kumpen in the nr 11 Paul Belmondo Viper going into the barriers. With times slower than the morning, and very few cars improving on their provisional qualifying times, the session was red-flagged after seven minutes when the nr 53 Art Engineering Porsche 996 GT3-R caught fire at the top of the track, with French driver Laurent Cazenave at the wheel. Cazenave got out immediately, and the team is now working on repairing the car. Fastest driver at that point was the nr 10 Belmondo Competition Chrysler Viper, still 1.5 seconds slower than the morning. The session was restarted after approximately fifteen minutes for the final eight minutes of the qualifying session. The nr 3 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper set the fastest lap in the session, with a lap of 1:34.080, but will start behind the team’s second car, driven by Michael and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen tomorrow. The only cars to make slight improvements on their time in the second qualifying session were the two Proton Competition Porsche 911 GT2 cars, and the nr 68 MAC Racing Porsche 996 GT3-R of Prisca Taruffi and Paolo Rapetti.
Jamie Campbell-Walter (GBR)– nr 1 Lister Storm : "We really have a lot of bad luck in the Superpole– every time we say we’ll get it right next time, but it just doesn’t happen. We’ll have to get first and second in Estoril."
Julian Bailey (GBR)– nr 2 Lister Storm : "I was on my out lap in the Superpole when the car filled with smoke. I got on the radio to Laurence, and he said to retire. So we’ll both be on the sixth row of the grid for tomorrow’s race."
Sebastiaan Bleekemolen (NED)– nr 4 Carsport Viper : "We had a lot of traffic this morning. I chose hard tyres at the start of the session, and afterwards I put medium tyres on, but then I hit the traffic and couldn’t get a good time. It just didn’t work out properly. I was only two tenths from making the Superpole session ! This afternoon I tried a few things, which appear to have worked, so we hope to be up at the front tomorrow after we’ve got past the N-GT cars. It’s quite difficult to pass the Porsches here, as there are only three or four overtaking places, and they are very competitive. So we’ll all have to watch our mirrors tomorrow."
Rickard Rydell (SWE)– nr 15 Prodrive Ferrari : "We couldn’t do much in qualifying– not with smaller restrictors and with 60 kg penalty weight– it’s too difficult. But I think we have a good chance for a top three finish tomorrow– it’s what we’re hoping for, anyway. But I really hope it will be dry, as we were not very good in the rain."
Laurent Cazenave (FRA)– nr 53 Art Engineering Porsche : "The engine caught fire up in the top of the track. I was really worried it would explode. I had just put the car in fourth when the engine seemed to die and I looked behind and saw all the flames. The team is working on the car, but my problem is that I have had hardly any dry running in the Porsche before tomorrow’s race."
Robin Liddell (GBR)– nr 57 Freisinger Porsche : "It’s not a perfect weekend by any stretch. We’ve changed the engine and the gearbox, after a problem in the morning, which meant that Cyrille was not able to drive as hard as he should. After the Nürburgring, when everything went smoothly with Stephane Ortelli, it’s been rather a character-building weekend. But we have to think about tomorrow, and I think we should be in good shape. Everything is dropping into place, and we hope for a good race."
Nigel Smith (GBR)– nr 61 Haberthur Porsche : "The car is going better– but I’m sure the track was slower, as I was at full throttle and getting no improvement in the times at all. It really frustrated me!"
David Terrien (FRA)– nr 62 JMB Ferrari : "Christian was slightly bothered by the car which was ahead of him, which is a shame for our qualifying position. But the car isn’t at all bad. I went out in the second qualifying session with a full tank, and it seems well balanced. And our top speed seems to be closer to the leaders this race. Everything is looking rather good for the race. I hope so, anyway. This is really the moment when we have to win. Our main strength, as always, is the fact that Christian and I are so close in our lap times– we are rarely more than two tenths apart, and often closer than that."
Wolfgang Kaufmann (GER)– nr 72 Bengala Porsche : "I don’t know what happened in the Superpole– I saw Pescatori behind me, and presumed he was on his slowing down lap. But he wasn’t right behind me, so I just kept going."