Zhuhai: Playteam Sarafree qualifying report

Playteam Sarafree qualifies on second row for season opener The international FIA GT championship got underway at the Chinese circuit of Zhuhai with a rather wet first free practice session early Saturday morning. Team Playteam Sarafree has...

Playteam Sarafree qualifies on second row for season opener

The international FIA GT championship got underway at the Chinese circuit of Zhuhai with a rather wet first free practice session early Saturday morning.

Team Playteam Sarafree has good reasons to be satisfied about this first qualifying session of the season as the gap to the pole car car, the Maserati MC12 GT1 Bartels/Biagi is only 0.212s.

Alessandro Pier Guidi (Maserati MC12) commented, "I feel disappointed even if I should not. It looks like I did not perform well. In fact, if you analyse the qualification we have planned for a good race strategy saving tyres. Do not forget that with the new regulations, we have to start on the same tyres than the tires that we used for qualifying. Therefore it is very important to save them. But the race is going to be tough with another Maserati C12 and the Corvette C5R and C6R ahead of us. It is a bit early for the strategy. Let's wait for the results of the warm-up tomorrow. "

Andrea Bertolini (Maserati MC12) commented: "I suffered incredibly from the humidity in this environment. I feel like I dived in the bath tub with my overalls still on. I feel wet and everything is sticky. The result of our qualifying session is positive, even if it is not comfortable to have another Maserati C12 and the Corvette C5R and the Corvette C6R ahead of us for the start. All the cars are within two tenths of a second, which is a good point for the balance of our own car. We encountered a lot of understeer during the session and I could not quite control the car. But I think it is well fine-tuned for the race."

In the first free practice, Andrea Bertolini and Andrea Piccini completed at total 21 laps with a best time of 1.33.147 using Pirelli tyres.

Andrea Bertolini (Maserati MC12): "I was happy to find again the car that I had not touched since the last race of the 2006 season. The car has not changed much since last year, but there has been a tremendous evolution and development on the Pirelli front. I consider the morning session as a huge general shake-down.

Early in the first free practice the conditions were very slippery with the rain. The good side is that there is a lot of mechanical traction. As the level of the water on the track was rather low, we were able to use the intermediate Pirelli tyres that are fast and adapt well to these weather conditions. The car handles well but I took it easy and took no risks. The exercise was just to check the car balance and the and the difference between slicks and intermediates. Towards the end of the session Andrea Piccini took the wheel of the car and scored the fastest time as the weather conditions improved."

Andrea Piccini (Maserati MC12) : "I was lucky to try the car two laps before the end as it was drying. The aim of the session was to choose the tyres for the race.

For now, we'll stick to our experience and acquired data. With the team and the engineers it was a matter of a quick routine check of the systems and the general set-up. The weather conditions were difficult and we will not have time to complete a long run under these conditions."

Alessandro Pier Guidi and Giambattista Giannoccaro finished 19 laps in 18th position at the wheel of the Playteam Sarafree Maserati MC12 also using Pirelli tyres.

Alessandro Pier Guidi (Maserati MC12): "We did not complete as many laps as we were hoping to this morning during the morning free practice. The race marshals kept us out of the session for 20 minutes and we lost valuable working times as they stopped us on the assumption that our car was dropping oil on the track - but is was not us! The track conditions were difficult. With the engineers we checked the systems and decided to take no risks."

Giambattista Giannoccaro(Maserati MC12): "I only drove four laps in the wet conditions and I scored the best time for the team as the track conditions were changing.

The intermediate Pirelli tyres work in an excellent way. We saw that other teams were using slick tyres; this is why they look faster than us. Later this afternoon we will split equally the duties between us."

In the Second Free practice, Andrea Bertolini and Andrea Piccini completed at total 29 laps with a best time of 1.38.023 and finished in 7th position.

Andrea Bertolini(Maserati MC12) : "We completed a good working program during the second test session and tested again the different set of tyres that we could use throughout the race and week-end: rain tyres as well as intermediates and finished one lap on the slicks. The balance is excellent and we are pleased with the results."

Andrea Piccini(Maserati MC12): "It worked well overall during the second session. But we had to be cautious as many cars were going off on the wet track. It is easy to make a mistake of to be involved in an unwanted accident. We improved lap by lap as per our working schedule. It was not so important to work on the lap times. It was more important to get the car ready and to work towards a good setting for the race tomorrow. For now the rain tyres keep a good condition. We also checked the brake conditions as there are four big breaking areas where you break strongly coming from 5th gear to second gear and this is very demanding on the brakes and easy to lock up by mistake"

In the second free practice, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Giambattista Giannoccaro finished in 4th position and completed a total of 32 laps at the wheel of the Playteam Sarafree Maserati MC12 Pirelli.

Alessandro Pier Guidi(Maserati MC12 ): "I drove more than this morning and compleed two stints of respectively eight laps and three laps. We decided to keep wet tyres on our Maserati MC12. The rain had stopped but the circuit was still washed out and completely wet with a lot of water. The grip on the track was progressing and the tyres worked well. I started the session and Giambattista Giannoccaro continued after me. Overall the car is well tuned-off and the car works well. We only made very few changes."

Giambattista Giannoccaro (Maserati MC12): "This time I got to drive more during this second session and covered two stints of respectively eight and four laps. It is really towards the end of the session that I got the real feeling of the car. I regret that I did not have chances to test the intermediate tyres. But the session developed pretty well and we feel ready for the qualifying challenge this afternoon."

-credit: ps

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Andrea Piccini , Andrea Bertolini , Giambattista Giannoccaro , Alessandro Pier Guidi