The Lister of Julian Bailey continued to top the times during the 1st official qualifying session this morning. The Listers set the pace during the session, with only the Chrysler of Derichebourg threatening them, and eventually splitting them. The Julian Bailey car managed a time some 1.3 seconds faster than the Chrysler, with the sister Lister only .3 seconds behind. Julian Bailey was still not happy with the car "The car is still not right, it feels a little worse than yesterday, but it is still quick. The others obviously have bigger problems than us" said Bailey in a masterpiece of understatement.
Derichebourg, who finished second, said "We need something to help us. The Lister is carrying 80kg and is still so much faster than us. If the Lister is this fast and does not have problems during the race, it will be very difficult to beat". Derichebourg has hopes that during the race the car will be more consistent, with a consistent pace, due to his new running mate in Vincent Vosse "Claude-Yves [Gosselin] is a very good driver, however I don't think he is as fast as Vincent so we will be more competitive this weekend".
Behind the Listers the field was very close, with 2nd to 10th covered by 1.5 seconds, with the Chryslers continuing to dominate the "second division", with only a singular Porsche 911 GT2 managing to break into the top 10 in 9th, with Konrad at the wheel. The Gosselin/Belmondo Viper that finished fifth was not running to it's full potential, claimed Toni Seiler of Chamberlain, due to the car showing very strange oil-pressure readings "If the pressure was that high, we would all be covered in oil".
The Kaufman/Ortelli Porsche was swamped by some of the N-GT class cars. Ortelli explained the problems that the car had: "The car feels as though something is broken in the chassis when you go round the fast corners".
In the N-GT class, which is running under a cloud following the revelation that "a number of cars" are running illegal bumpers, was topped by the Porsche of Christophe Bouchut and Patrice Goueslard coming out on top, despite worries about the thermostat problem of yesterday could reoccur.
Nigel Smith, who finished third in class, had his team-mate Neugarten complaining about the poor grip from the car "I had a gurney flap of on the rear wing which made the car more stable in the fast corners, we need to do some more work with the Dunlop tyres, perhaps have a couple of days testing?".
The Ferrari 360 Modena's, which are enduring a difficult first season, tailed the field, running some 15 seconds off the Lister's pace, and 8 seconds off the NGT pace.
Stephen M Baines