1999 FIA GT Championship Round 9 : Watkins Glen, NY (USA) Saturday, October 2nd, 1999 - Second Qualifying Practice Session
Weather Cold and sunny
Belloc and Donohue on pole at the Glen Factory Chrysler Viper driver Jean-Philippe Belloc will start tomorrow's ninth round of the FIA GT Championship at Watkins Glen from pole position. The Frenchman's time of 1m47.576s from this morning, reckoned to be the quicker of the two sessions, stands as the day's best qualifying time. This is the second time that Belloc has started an FIA GT Championship race from pole position, his first coming at Hockenheim in late June.
Belloc, who shares the number two ORECA car with American David Donohue, said : "I'm very happy to be on pole again. Pole is important, but even more important is having a good car for the race." The Frenchman, who was third fastest this afternoon, said that he expects the major opposition in the race to come from his ORECA team mates and the lead Chamberlain Viper, but he did not rule out a strong challenge from the best of the Porsches. "Their fuel consumption is very good."
Chamberlain # 18 on first row A Chamberlain Chrysler will start from the front row for the second time this year. Xavier Pompidou's time of 1m47.613s represents the second best lap of the day. "When I got out of the car this morning, I was on pole, so I am really happy," said the Frenchman, who lines up with Vincent Vosse and Michel Ligonnet. "I think we're a little more competitive than at Homestead last weekend [when the car finished third], but it will be really difficult to beat the ORECA cars. We have a very good chance of a podium." The car was placed fourth in the afternoon session.
Beretta improves to third Third fastest overall and fastest in this afternoon's second qualifying session is the number one ORECA Viper of new FIA GT Champions Olivier Beretta and Karl Wendlinger. Beretta was unconcerned that his best lap of 1m48.350s was only good enough for a spot on the second row of the grid. "We were only using old tyres and I lost seven tenths at the last corner on my best lap overtaking a slow Porsche," he said. "I'm sure a 1m47.8s lap was possible. I don't really care about the front row. We've had a lot of mechanical problems this weekend."
Second Chamberlain car fourth Christian Vann placed the second Chamberlain car fourth on the grid in the closing stages of this afternoon's session. "I'm happy to be fourth, but our strategy was wrong today. We banked on this afternoon being the quicker of the two sessions, but it turned out to be slower," said Vann. The Briton said that he and co-driver Christian Gläsel are aiming for their first podium of the year tomorrow. "If everything goes well, there's no reason why we can't be in the top three. On race pace, I'm sure we're very close to the other Chamberlain car."
Freisinger still best Porsche Top Porsche qualifier is the Freisinger Porsche of Wolfgang Kaufmann and Bob Wollek, which will line up fifth. The former set third best time in this morning's session, while the latter ended up fifth fastest in the afternoon.
Bad luck for Konrad Second Porsche is the Konrad Motorsport 911 GT2 of team boss Franz Konrad and Mike Hezemans in seventh, just one tenth behind the sixth-placed Belmondo Chrysler Viper of Steve Pfeffer and Rael. Konrad went off the circuit to bring out the red flags with 10 minutes of this afternoon's qualifying period remaining. "I had such bad luck on my qualifying tyres this afternoon," he said. "Every time I came over the start-finish line, a car came out of the pits and blocked me. That meant the rear tyres were completely gone, so I came in and put a set of race tyres on the rear. I didn't warm them up enough and spun - it was my fault. I think we messed up qualifying this weekend." Konrad believes that the engine problems that have plagued the car all weekend are now solved.
The second Konrad Porsche will line up on the eighth row of the grid. Diez Villaroel qualified the car 17th after missing most of the morning session with engine problems. "We're trying to solve the problems, but we are running only 50% boost at the moment," said the Spaniard, who shares with American Charlie Slater. "I'm hoping everything will be okay for tomorrow."
Miami winner eighth on grid Eighth on the grid is the number one Belmondo Viper of team boss Paul Belmondo and Luca Drudi. The latter was given the job of qualifying the car by virtue of his greater circuit knowledge. "With all of our problems this weekend, I don't think we've got a very good qualifying set-up," said Belmondo. "We're just going to make the best job we can."
Best N-GT on fifth row Best of the American cars invited to take part in the event is the Schumacher Racing Porsche 911 GT2, which will line up ninth. The car, driven by Larry Schumacher and John O'Steen, improved by the best part of a second in the afternoon. Second best in the invitational class is the Reiser-Callas Porsche 911 RSR of David Murry and Joel Reiser, which did not improve.
The unusual SSZ Stradales stopped on the circuit during the afternoon session with an engine turbo-related engine problem. The Racing Technologies squad is now changing the Nissan V6, although the team always planned to put a fresh unit in for the race. Also encountering engine problems is the Glen Seward-entered Chevrolet Corvette. "We've had a weekend of problems," said Seward. "We've got an ignition glitch; we don't have any power above 5700rpm. And that means we don't have any top speed."
Race Day Tomorrow's ninth round of the FIA GT Championship at Watkins Glen starts at 1.00pm local time.