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Magny-Cours: Qualifying report

Rain overnight was followed by heavy showers throughout most of Saturday. Both qualifying sessions were wet, with conditions significantly worse in the afternoon. However, the weather made the qualifying sessions at Magny-Cours very interesting,...

Rain overnight was followed by heavy showers throughout most of Saturday. Both qualifying sessions were wet, with conditions significantly worse in the afternoon. However, the weather made the qualifying sessions at Magny-Cours very interesting, with four makes represented in the top six for tomorrow's grid. The weather is expected to improve for the race.

BOBBI TAKES HIS FIRST POLE FOR BMS SCUDERIA ITALIA

Young Italian driver Matteo Bobbi took his first pole position in the FIA GT Championship today, three weeks after winning the Barcelona round with his team-mate Thomas Biagi. At the wheel of the nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello, he claimed provisional pole towards the end of the morning's wet session, before improving once more on his final lap, with a best time of 1:55.642.

The afternoon session was significantly wetter, and few drivers managed to improve their times, giving Bobbi the first place on the grid for Sunday's 500 km, three-hour race. "The Championship has started well for me", he said. "But the season is long. I am happy with today's pole position. It was difficult out there, with a lot of water on the track. But I had two clear laps and pushed hard. I enjoy driving in these conditions, and I think the Michelin tyres were better than the other tyres today. If it's dry tomorrow, the Lister will be faster than us, but I 'll try to win again."

Second place on the grid was claimed by the reigning Champion, Christophe Bouchut, at the wheel of the nr 1 Larbre Competition Chrysler Viper. The French driver was fastest for much of the morning session, before losing out to Bobbi at the end of the 45-minutes. Third place went to the nr 2 Konrad Saleen S7-R, driven by Jean-Marc Gounon, with a time set after the chequered flag fell.

MARC LIEB ON POLE FOR FREISINGER MOTORSPORT IN N-GT

Marc Lieb claimed pole position in the N-GT class in the nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS, leading a group of three Porsche cars in the difficult conditions. Lieb set a time of 2:00.252. : "Our car was very good in the rain, and Dunlop have done a great job with the tyres," he said afterwards. I did three fast laps in the morning, and I was really surprised to be on pole." Second place in N-GT was the nr 99 RWS Yukos Porsche of Lechner Jr and Daoudi, with Lechner Jr. improving during the second session, setting a time of 2:00.809. Third place went to the EMKA Racing car, which has been impressive all weekend, with Sugden setting a time of 2:00.971 in the morning session, which had placed him provisionally second.

FIRST QUALIFYING SESSION

The rain began to fall heavily shortly before the session began, and a wet practice was declared. Despite two red-flag periods, one of which allowed the nr 18 Zwaan's Racing Viper to be removed from the gravel, times fell gradually. The Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen of Erdos and Newton was fastest early on, to be replaced at the top of the lists by Bouchut, with a time of 1:57.245. Towards the very end of the session, the nr 23 Ferrari 550 Maranello moved to the top, with Bobbi at the wheel. The nr 2 Konrad Motorsport Saleen set the third time as the chequered flag fell to close the session. The nr 21 and 22 BMS cars were fourth and fifth respectively, with the nr 14 Lister sixth, ahead of the much-improved nr 4 Force One Chrysler Viper. The nr 15 Lister was down in 15th place, Piccini having spun a number of times whilst attempting to adapt to the car in the wet conditions.

N-GT was dominated by the Porsches, with the Cirtek Motorsport fast at the start. However, Adam Jones's time of 2:02.166 was soon eclipsed by the nr 50 Freisinger car, with Marc Lieb taking provisional pole. The nr 61 EMKA Racing car was the next to improve, moving up to second place, while the second Freisinger Porsche of Gardel and Longin set the third time in the class. The leading Ferrari was the 88 TMC Ferrari 360 Modena of Davies and Mullen, in fourth place.

SECOND QUALIFYING SESSION

The second session was even wetter than the first, and at the start it looked as if there would be no improvements whatsoever. However, although the top eight places of the grid did not change, a number of cars did manage to improve their grid positions towards the end of the session. Fastest overall was the nr 14 Lister Storm, with Jamie Campbell-Walter setting a time of 2:00.678. He was followed by two N-GT cars, with the nr 99 RWS Yukos Porsche setting the second time overall, and improving to second place on the N-GT grid for tomorrow's race. The nr 5 Force One Viper of Kumpen and Hezemans also improved, with Kumpen fourth overall and improving to 13th on the grid. Fifth, and fastest Ferrari in the session, was Tomas Enge in the nr 57 MenX car, with the nr 4 Creation Lister Storm sixth overall, improving his grid position to 20th.

-fia-

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