Zhuhai International Circuit Saturday summary

Aston Martin DBR9 on pole but crashed in the afternoon; GruppeM dominates GT2 again 2005 FIA GT Championship newcomer Aston Martin DBR9, in the hands of Frenchman Christophe Bouchut of Russian Age Racing, broke Maserati's MC12's qualifying lap...

Aston Martin DBR9 on pole but crashed in the afternoon; GruppeM dominates GT2 again

2005 FIA GT Championship newcomer Aston Martin DBR9, in the hands of Frenchman Christophe Bouchut of Russian Age Racing, broke Maserati's MC12's qualifying lap record set last year, by setting a 1: 30.661 to claim pole position for tomorrow's FIA GT Championship China Round race.

Unfortunately, it crashed at turn 10 in the afternoon session when Russian driver Nikolai Fomenko was driving. The car has since been retained by the FIA officials and the team is not sure how much damage was done, therefore they are unable to predict whether it can be fixed by tomorrow.

Bouchut, the 1993 Le Mans 24 Hours winner with Peugeot and reigning Le Mans Endurance Series champion, says: "The Aston Martin is easier to drive than the Ferrari. I have no problems with the car. Sadly at this stage I don't know if we are racing tomorrow."

Second and third places went to the two Ferraris of Larbre Competition and GPC Sport respectively. Larbre's Pedro Lamy set a time of 1: 31.264 and GPC Sport's Luca Drudi finished with a 1:31.603, both less than 1 second away from the Aston. The no.11 Larbre Ferrari 550 and the no. 2 GPC Ferrari 575 will in effect be on the front row if the Aston Martin does not start.

Luca Drudi said: "We made lots of progress with the car and can now concentrate on fine tuning it for the race. The Pirelli tyres are good and the car is constant. So we have a good chance tomorrow."

In GT2, GruppeM Racing once again leads the class. The time set by Marc Lieb, 1: 35.462, is just 0.4 seconds ahead of teammate Emmanuel Collard's sister car. Should Marc Lieb and Mike Rockenfeller win the race tomorrow, then they will clinch the GT2 drivers' title as well.

Marc Lieb said, "It was a good qualifying session and good to have another 1-2 in qualifying for the GruppeM team. I am happy for the team. It is a good position for us and I hope we can win the race and the title tomorrow."

Hong Kong Le Mans Team's Matthew Marsh and Darryl O'Young, is fourth in the class. Matthew Marsh said, "Everything is going to plan, we qualified where we should. The car is nice to drive which is important for a 3 hour race. The main thing is to avoid making mistakes and then we have a good chance of making the podium."

Group 2 is led by the Gillet Vertigo of Bas Leinders and Vanina Ickx. They set a time of 1: 38.767. The only other Group 2 entry, the Lotus Exige 300RR, set a time of 1:41.427 to start second last on the grid after the Lammertink Porsche has been penalized 10 grid places for changing its engine.

-Zhuhai International Circuit.

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Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Emmanuel Collard , Pedro Lamy , Vanina Ickx , Luca Drudi , Christophe Bouchut , Marc Lieb , Nikolai Fomenko , Mike Rockenfeller , Darryl O'Young , Bas Leinders , Matthew Marsh
Teams Larbre Competition