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Spa: Qualifying report

Weather Overcast, but hot and humid. The track was dry throughout. Gollin on Pole for BMS Scuderia Italia With a repeat of his 2003 performance, Fabrizio Gollin claimed pole position for the seventh round of the FIA GT Championship, the...

Weather
Overcast, but hot and humid. The track was dry throughout.

Gollin on Pole for BMS Scuderia Italia

With a repeat of his 2003 performance, Fabrizio Gollin claimed pole position for the seventh round of the FIA GT Championship, the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa. He emerged victorious from a close fight with the nr 5 Saleen and the other BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello, during the cooling conditions at the end of the first qualifying session, before dusk fell. "It's beautiful to drive without the ballast weight. The car is much easier to handle like this," Gollin explained. "Of course, being on pole position isn't really important for a 24-hour-race. It just matters for me as a driver, for the prestige and for the reputation of the team. What's important for the Championship is that we finish the race on Sunday. We know that the last part of the Championship will be pretty hard because the last two races are new for all the drivers. So we want to take a lot of points here and hope we'll have a good race." Gollin and his team-mate Cappellari have led the Championship all season, and are joined for this event by Lilian Bryner and Enzo Calderari, who usually drive the nr 3 Care Racing Ferrari. This is Gollin's fourth FIA GT pole position, and his first since Monza this season. Alongside him on the front row will be the nr 5 Vitaphone Saleen S7, with a time of 2:15.221 set by Uwe Alzen. They will be followed by the nr 1 BMS Ferrari of Bobbi, Gardel, Livio and De Castro, and the two GPC Giesse Ferrari 575 M Maranello cars, led by the Vosse/Salo/Babini/Peter car.

Pescatori leads the N-GT category

Confirming the speed of the Ferrari 360 Modena cars around the 6.976 km circuit, Christian Pescatori took pole position in the N-GT category for tomorrow's 24-hour race, which will start at 16:00 precisely. "I'm very happy because we've worked a lot for this race," Christian explained. "We only tried one set of tyres in qualifying and could only get one clear lap in, but it was a good lap and it got us pole position. It's important for the Championship that we finish the race in a good position, but it's going to be a long, hard race. We'll see." The Ferrari will be followed on the grid by all three green and yellow Freisinger Motorsport Porsches, led by Stéphane Ortelli, Emmanuel Collard and Romain Dumas in the nr 50 Porsche, followed by the nr 99 line-up of Maassen, Lieb and Luhr, and the nr 77 Porsche of Vasiliev, Bernhard and Bergmeister. Fifth is the Gruppe M Europe Porsche 996 GT3-RS, which finished third in class at Donington last race.

G2 and G3 : a Corvette and a Viper

The Renstal Excelsior Chevrolet Corvette C5-R has led the G2 class for cars from national championships so far this weekend, as confirmed by Marc Goossens, who set a time of 2:17.518 to place the car sixth overall and best in class. He was followed by the two BMW M3 GTR cars. Dirk Müller set the best time in the nr 142; he will share it with his FIA ETCC team-mate Jörg Müller and Hans-Joachim Stuck. The nr 143 car was qualified by Pedro Lamy; his team-mates will be FIA ETCC drivers Kurt Mollekens, Andy Priaulx and Antonio Garcia.

A Viper took pole position for the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa - but this was a Viper Competition Coupé, running in the G3 class and shared by the US Carworld Racing team of Roger Grouwels, René Wijnen, Rob Frijns and Xavier Maassen. They were followed by the two Mühlner Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3 Cup cars.

First Qualifying Session : BMS in the lead

The nr 2 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello of Fabrizio Gollin, Luca Cappellari, Lilian Bryner and Enzo Calderari set the best time in the first qualifying session for Saturday's Proximus 24 Hours of Spa.

Their sister car, driven by Bobbi, Gardel, Livio and De Castro, was the first to lead the time sheets, with a lap of 2:17.919 in the early part of the session, which started at 20:30 and counted as night qualifying for the 24-hour event. At that point, the leading N-GT car was the nr 99 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS. However, ten minutes into the session, the red flags were shown after the nr 4 Konrad Saleen S7 came to a halt alongside the track, having lost a wheel. The car was engulfed in smoke when the hot exhaust ignited the grass. The session was stopped for approximately 25 minutes, restarting at 21:08. By this time, temperatures were lower, night was falling and the times tumbled. The nr 2 BMS car was fastest of them all, with a lap of 2:15.204. It was followed by the nr 5 Vitaphone Saleen and the nr 11 GPC Ferrari 575 M Maranello of Vosse, Salo, Babini and Peter. In N-GT, the nr 62 GPC Ferrari 360 Modena took the lead with a lap of 2:20.861. As for the nr 99 Motorsport Porsche, it went off before Malmedy, Sascha Maassen at the wheel. The car damaged the front and rear suspension and took no further part in the evening's qualifying sessions. At 21:35, the nr 2 Ferrari further improved its time to 2:15.047, which remained the best of the day, giving Fabrizio Gollin provisional pole for the race. During the last section of the session, conditions grew steadily darker, and there were no further improvements.

The nr 2 Ferrari finished 0.174 seconds ahead of the nr 5 Vitaphone Saleen S7, with the nr 1 BMS Ferrari third. They were followed by the two GPC 575 M Ferrari cars. In N-GT, the nr 62 GPC Ferrari claimed provisional pole, one tenth ahead of the nr 50 Freisinger Yukos Motorsport Porsche of Ortelli, Collard and Dumas, with the nr 99 in third.

The leading car from Group 2, the nr 108 Corvette C5-R, was sixth overall, ahead of the two BMW M3 GTR cars. In Group 3, the nr 115 Viper Competition Coupé was fastest, ahead of the nr 124 Porsche and the nr 123 Mühlner Porsche.

Second Qualifying Session : GPC best in the dark

The second qualifying session, which ran between 22:15 and 23:45, took place in full darkness, with all the teams and drivers preparing for the night running. The best time was set by the nr 11 GPC Ferrari 575 M Maranello of Vincent Vosse, Mika Salo, Fabio Babini and Philipp Peter, with a lap of 2:19.256. The nr 7 RML Saleen S7 repeated its performance from the first free practice and finished second, with a time of 2:21.023. The nr 1 BMS Ferrari 550 Maranello was third, followed by the second GPC car, the nr 13.

The leading N-GT car was the nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS of Ortelli, Collard and Dumas, with a lap of 2:23.027, followed by its sister car, the nr 77 of Alexei, Bergmeister and Bernhard. The leading G2 car was 6th, the nr 143 BMW M3 GTR of Mollekens, Lamy, Garcia and Priaulx. The G3 class, for cars from single-make series, was led once again by the nr 115 Viper Competition Coupé. A number of cars did not go out, including the nr 4 Saleen, the nr 99 Freisinger Porsche and the nr 72 Cirtek Ferrari 360 Modena, all of which suffered damage in the first qualifying session.

However, the nr 9 Zwaan's Racing Chrysler Viper did take to the track for three laps, after its morning crash.

Third Qualifying Session : GPC again

The third and final session took place in the midday heat on Friday, with the nr 11 GPC Giesse Squadra Corse setting the best time, a lap of 2:19.321. The powerful Vosse/Salo/Babini/Peter line-up, in their Ferrari 575 M Maranello, was followed by the nr 27 Creation Autosportif Lister Storm, putting in its best performance so far. The conditions apparently suited the Storms, as the nr 14 Lister Racing Storm of Schirle, Donaldson and Fisken, was fourth, behind the second GPC car of Bouvy, Defourny, Naspetti and Morbidelli. In N-GT, Freisinger Motorsport's nr 99 Porsche 996 GT3-RS returned to the track after its crash in first qualifying, and set a time of 2:23.810, placing its sixth overall. It was closely followed by the two other green and yellow Freisinger Porsches, the nr 50 ahead of the nr 77.

There were very few improvements, although the nr 14 Lister Storm and the nr 73 Cirtek Motorsport Porsche both set their best times during this session. However, with the leading times four seconds off Thursday's fastest times, there were no changes to the provisional poles.

-fia-

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