Monza: Qualifying report

Fabrizio Gollin took his third pole position in the FIA GT Championship at Monza today, setting a time of 1:43.509 to place the nr 2 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello on the first row of the grid for tomorrow's 500 km race. He will start...

Fabrizio Gollin took his third pole position in the FIA GT Championship at Monza today, setting a time of 1:43.509 to place the nr 2 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello on the first row of the grid for tomorrow's 500 km race. He will start alongside the team's second car, driven by reigning champion Matteo Bobbi and his new team-mate, Gabriele Gardel. As for Stephane Ortelli, Monza was his tenth pole position, setting a time of 1:49.540 in the afternoon's session in the Freisinger Yukos Porsche 996 GT3 he shares with Emmanuel Collard. Sascha Maassen will start in second place in N-GT, in the nr 99 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche.

Weather
Heavy rain overnight meant that the track was still damp during the first session, and although it dried gradually, sections remained damp. By the afternoon session, the weather had brightened, and the track was dry.

First Qualifying session : BMS and GPC fastest; Graham Nash Motorsport shines

After the Vitaphone Saleen S7-R set the fastest time in both of Friday's free practice sessions, the BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello, driven by Fabrizio Gollin and Luca Cappellari, was fastest in the morning. The first qualifying session was officially declared wet, and times were initially slow on the slippery surface. Early on there were problems for the nr 1 Ferrari, which collided under braking with a JMB Ferrari. This left the reigning champion stranded in the gravel, missing the rest of the session. The times gradually came down, with Gollin setting the fastest times early on. However, fifteen minutes into the session, the fastest man on the track was newcomer to the Championship, Paolo Ruberti, in the Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7-R. After setting the second-fastest time, he then improved to take provisional pole, and was the first driver under the 1:50 barrier. In the final few minutes, times continued to fall, and first the nr 2 BMS Ferrari, and then the nr 4 Konrad Saleen and the nr 17 JMB Ferrari 575 M Maranello overtook the Graham Nash car. A minute before the session ended, Gollin took provisional pole with a lap of 1:46.296. With the track continuing to dry, a number of cars improved after the chequered flag fell, but Gollin retained the fastest time, ahead of the nr 5 Vitaphone Saleen, the nr 3 Care Racing Ferrari and the nr 17 JMB Ferrari 575, with the Graham Nash Saleen finally fifth. The nr 14 Lister had been rebuilt overnight after the free practice crash; the team worked on the car during the first session and it would be ready to set a time in the afternoon.

In the N-GT category, the AB Motorsport Porsche of Castro, Premoli and Barbaro was fastest in the early stages. However, its times were soon eclipsed by the nr 50 Freisinger Yukos car of Ortelli and Collard, followed by the nr 62 GPC Giesse Ferrari. The nr 50 continued to lead throughout, but eventually had its times cancelled, due to failing the ride-height test. This left the nr 62 Ferrari on provisional pole, ahead of the nr 77 Freisinger Yukos Porsche of Alexei Vasiliev and Nikolaj Fomenko, and the AB Motorsport Porsche third.

Second Qualifying Session : Gollin retains pole; Ortelli regains the lead in N-GT

Matteo Bobbi, who had missed most of the morning session and was down in 15th position, immediately set good times in the morning, taking the lead with a lap of 1:45.855. Tom Coronel, in the nr 14 Lister Storm, was flying early on, and moved up to third place. The nr 28 Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7-R, which had been so quick in the morning, stopped on the circuit with a loose fuel pipe. Fifteen minutes into the session, Gollin took provisional pole, with a lap of 1:44.579, with the nr 3 Ferrari up into third place, giving a Ferrari 550 one-two-three.

Bobbi and Gollin changed places again half-way through the session, a lap of 1:43.789 giving Bobbi provisional pole. But the Ferrari 550 stronghold was finally broken when the nr 5 Saleen S7-R moved up into second place with a time of 1:44.101. Two minutes before the end of the 45-minute session, Gollin took pole again, improving to 1:43.509, and demoting the nr 1 BMS car to second, the Vitaphone Saleen to third. The Care Racing Ferrari was fourth, with the nr 14 Lister Storm in fifth position. Times were close, with the top three within 0.6 of a second, and Gollin's pole time five hundreds of a second faster than the pole time in October, set by Anthony Kumpen in a Force One Chrysler Viper GTS-R.

In N-GT, the nr 50 Freisinger Yukos Porsche took provisional pole early on, on the now dry track. But the nr 62 GPC Giesse Ferrari lost all hopes of challenging for the pole when it went into the gravel, and was forced to miss the rest of the session. This left the Porsche cars with a clear field, and Stephane Ortelli took pole with a lap of 1:49.540, ahead of the nr 99 Freisinger Motorsport car of Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr, with Christian Pescatori and Fabrizio De Simone third in the GPC Ferrari.

Scrutineering

The four Saleen S7 cars which were concerned by scrutineering decisions yesterday were authorised to take part in qualifying, warm-up and the race, providing that they respect the bodywork seals affixed by the scrutineers. Any time that the team needs to work under the sealed bodywork, the unsealing can only be done by the scrutineers, who will reseal it at the end of the operation.

The nr 22 Wieth Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello, which needed to change its steering column in order to take part in the race, has withdrawn from the event.

QUOTES

GT Pole Position : Fabrizio Gollin - nr 2 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello : "Due to the weather, it's been very difficult to get a good lap. But I was lucky in the second qualifying: the track was good and I didn't have any traffic. I'm very happy because I made a perfect lap! The car hasn't changed much since last October when I won here in Monza, but the Michelin tyres are better and we have new, improved brakes. Tomorrow will be difficult, though, because strategy will be very important. We'll see how we can do in the race."

N-GT Pole Position : Stéphane Ortelli - nr 50 Freisinger Yukos Porsche : "This is the first time I've been working with the new car on a race weekend, and it's great to experience how far we've improved the car since the first tyre test, and all the way through the weekend. So far, I'm happy with the handling and the performance. I think the qualifying result is a good answer to what happened at the end of last year, when the Ferrari 360 Modena took pole position for the final five rounds. But if I look at the drivers behind me, there are some big names, and I assume that the competition will be very, very tough tomorrow. The race will certainly be very challenging!"

2nd in GT : Matteo Bobbi - nr 1 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello : "The first session was very bad for me. I made a big mistake and spun off the track. I lost the whole first qualifying, and missed out both sessions yesterday as well, due to technical problems. In the second qualifying, everything was completely new to me. I didn't know limits of either the car or the new tyres, but I pushed very hard and I'm very happy with second place. I don't really like Monza and I don't like this kind of track in general, so I'm very very happy to be in this position. My new teammate, Gabriele Gardel, has been very strong in yesterday's session and also this afternoon. He's very professional, and he can do a very good job. I'm confident for the race, even though it's going to be more difficult this year because the Saleens are very strong and there are some strong, experienced drivers. But the fight will be more interesting - both for us and for the spectators."

3rd in GT : Uwe Alzen - nr 5 Vitaphone Saleen S7-R : "The qualifying was not too bad. We're the quickest Pirelli car, both drivers are on nearly the same level and we have a good package altogether. Our goal for tomorrow is to push very hard. It is really not easy for us on this track. We still need to improve our top speed, and because of that we've lost some time on the long straights today. We will have to see what we can do for tomorrow. Maybe it's possible to get close to the Ferraris on slipstream, then push a bit and wait for a mistake. I'm happy with the result, and I'm proud to be here. The FIA GT will be a very good base for the future."

2nd in N-GT : Sascha Maassen - nr 99 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3: "We were third for a long time, but due to the weather circumstances the track became quicker and quicker and we could improve our time and go up to second. The car was not so bad, but obviously not perfect enough to be on pole position. I'm expecting a very close fight between half of the N-GT field. Unfortunately, that's only three cars, but they are all incredibly strong. The team is very good and very balanced, and that makes me confident for the race. But of course, the others are extremely competitive as well."

3rd in N-GT : Fabrizio De Simone - nr 62 GPC Giesse Ferrari 360 Modena: "Unfortunately, I made a mistake in the second session and ended up in the gravel on my second fastest lap. So this result is really not reflecting on the performance of our package truthfully. I'm very confident about the car and the tyres for tomorrow. Of course, everything is still new for us, and we need time to get adapted. But the feeling is a positive one and while the car has been very good in the last few races of the previous season, this year's version has seen a step up in terms of development."

Gabriele Gardel - nr 1 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello : "I am really enjoying being with the team ! Tomorrow, I think things will be close in the race. It's going to be a tough season, and it is important to aim for points. The main things to watch out for are tyre and fuel consumption - as well as the weather. I did a long stint today, on the tyres we plan to use tomorrow. The car was really consistent, and I set my best time - which would have put me eighth on the grid - at the end of the stint, with a heavy fuel load and old tyres. The team has worked really hard, and I am really happy !"

Christophe Bouchut - nr 10 Zwaans GTR Racing Team Chrysler Viper GTS-R : "The car is definitely progressing. There was a lot to do, and many things to sort out. We still have an engine problem, which is slowing us down on this circuit. But we will stay calm in the race and see what happens. I am satisfied, because the team was able to react considering the mountain of changes I suggested. Our aim is to rely on the reliability of these cars, and hopefully to win some points for the team tomorrow."

Fabio Babini - nr 11 G.P.C Giesse Ferrari 575 M Maranello : "I didn't drive the car in the second session; there was a problem with the front undertray, with the support, so it was too low. In the morning, it was good. I went out on intermediate tyres, and it was working well. We were 7th in the morning, but we've now dropped to 9th. But I think we can do better tomorrow. This is the circuit which is worst for our car, and the team is brand new, so we all have to work hard."

Tom Coronel - nr 14 Lister Storm : "We have been very busy, preparing the car for the race after yesterday's crash, and with three drivers to drive. Considering I did not have much time in the car, the lap was OK. It was not as good as during the test day, but the pace is fine. I really think we are capable of running close to the podium tomorrow. One of the main things about the Lister is that it is very good on tyre usage, which could be a factor in the race."

Bert Longin - nr 18 JMB Racing Ferrari 575 M Maranello : "I am very happy with the team; they have helped me a lot. Everything is brand new; we qualified in 8th and 11th place with brand new cars and no testing, which we had never driven before, so it's not bad. I think the most important thing is to get to the top level of the GT category. It is a big challenge. It is very good to have someone like Wendlinger in the team, and I know I can learn from him.The Ferrari is totally different from the Porsche I drove last year. But I am surprised that I have adapted so fast. I had no problems in qualifying, we were just trying to find the right set-up. Eleventh is not so bad, and I think that with an intelligent race tomorrow, we could have a good result."

Gordon Davies - team manager, Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7-R : "Paolo knows the circuit well and we thought he'd get there. The car is handling well, although there are still a few things to sort out. This is the first time the drivers have driven the car, and I'm sure they can get better still. Paolo had only done about 15 laps in it. It should also be good in Spain, as although Valencia is not Jesus' favourite circuit, he does know it well. In the afternoon, Jesus and Harald will go out, as they need more time, but we will most likely put Paolo back in the car at the end of the session, if we drop further down. We're very pleased - we just need to do a rain dance now !"

Emmanuel Collard - nr 50 Freisinger Yukos Motorsport : "We had a problem with the ride height, which meant we lost our times in the morning. But the car wasn't too bad, considering the difficult conditions. It was very damp and slippery, and remained damp in the woods until the end, especially at the first and second chicanes."

-fia-

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Fabrizio Gollin , Christian Pescatori , Tom Coronel , Emmanuel Collard , Stéphane Ortelli , Sascha Maassen , Lucas Luhr , Uwe Alzen , Matteo Bobbi , Christophe Bouchut , Fabio Babini , Gabriele Gardel , Luca Cappellari , Bert Longin , Paolo Ruberti