1000 KM OF JARAMA -- QUALIFYING SESSIONS
Qualifying for the final race of the 2006 Le Mans Series, held at Jarama, took place in warm, sunny conditions though a light shower of rain hit the circuit shortly afterwards. Emmanuel Collard headed the "LM" P1 class in his Judd-powered Pescarolo C60H to start from pole position overall, though the Frenchman spun on his next lap and has flat-spotted the tyres that he will use at the start of the race. Tommy Erdos, leader of the class in the point classification with Mike Newton, set pole position time in the "LM" P2 class in his MG Lola, while Stephane Ortelli was fastest in the "LM" GT1 class driving the ORECA Saleen S7R. Marc Lieb was the fastest of the "LM" GT2 drivers having set pole position time in "LM" GT2 class in his Autorlando Porsche that he will share with the newly crowned champion Joel Camathias. The GPC team was reduced to one car after Edoardo Bisconcin had an accident during Saturday's practice session, heavily damaging the front of the Ferrari 430 GT. Xavier Pompidou was also unable to set a qualifying time in the new Ford-powered Lavaggi LS1 when the team needed to change the engine.
Emmanuel Collard set pole position time in the "LM" P1 category in his Judd-powered Pescarolo C60H, more than half a second faster than the Courage Competition Courage LC70s of Jean- Marc Gounon and Shinji Nakano which had set the pace during the practice sessions on Friday and Saturday. "We certainly did not expect to be on pole," said Collard, who crossed the line to set a time of 1m23.242s. "The Courage has been quicker than us so far this weekend." Gounon has developed a reputation as a fast starter in his Advan-shod Courage, and Collard is expecting a tough fight during the race. "It is important to stay in front because it will be impossible to overtake here and in traffic, it is always better to be ahead," said Collard. "The only problem that we had was my spin and I have a little flat spot on the tyres, it is not big, but it is there." The Swiss Spirit Courage LC70 set fourth fastest time in class, and will start fifth overall, ahead of the Creation of Nicolas Minassian. The Frenchman, who shares with Felipe Ortiz and Beppe Gabbiani, will start sixth overall.
Tommy Erdos got his fight to win the "LM" P2 title off to a fantastic start when the Brazilian set pole position time, fourth fastest overall, in his RML MG Lola. Erdos, with his co-driver Mike Newton, leads the classification by three points from the Barazi Epsilon Courage C65 of Michael Vergers, Juan Barazi and Davide Secchi. Vergers set seventh fastest time in the class, 13th overall. Stuart Moseley set second fastest time in the Bruichladdich Radical SR9 having challenged Erdos throughout the session in the new car. His best time of 1m25.203s was two tenths faster than the Kruse Motorsport Courage of Jan Dirk Luenders, Jens Petersen and Norbert Siedler. Angel Burgueno was fourth fastest in the ASM Team Racing for Portugal Lola, while Joao Barbosa could manage only fifth fastest in the Judd-powered Rollcentre Radical. "Our first gear is just too long," said team owner Martin Short. "We did not expect to do well in qualifying here."
Stephane Ortelli will start the Spanish race from 15th position overall in his Team ORECA Saleen S7R having set pole position time "LM" GT1 class, beating the Team Modena Aston Martin DBR9 of Antonio Garcia. Ortelli's best lap, of 1m28.734s was just two tenths of a second faster than local hero Garcia's best, and both cars stopped early to save their tyres for tomorrow's race. The Saleen has proven itself as a race winner, but was cruelly denied at the Nurburgring by a broken starter motor and at Donington through an engine problem so the team will be looking to finish the season on a high. Jos Menten took third place in class in his PSI Experience Corvette C6-R but behind, Peter Kox outqualified Pedro Lamy in his Team MenX Ferrari 550 Maranello. Lamy set fifth fastest time in class, six-tenths of a second from Ortelli in the Larbre Competition Aston Martin he shares with Gabriele Gardel and Vincent Vosse. Less than seventh tenths of a second separate the six cars in the class, making it the closest fought class on the grid.
Marc Lieb was the star of the "LM"GT2 category in the Pirellishod Autorlando Porsche, setting pole position time in the class by three tenths of a second from Fabrizio de Simone's Ferrari 430 GT. The German set a time of 1m33.574s and will start from 21st position overall. "This is a traction circuit, which plays into our hands better I think than into Ferrari's" said Lieb. "On old tyres our car is still the quickest but tomorrow the traffic will certainly be horrible." Tim Sugden was third fastest in the Virgo Motorsport Ferrari, a further tenth of a second off, while Jeroen Bleekemolen and Jonny Kane set fourth and fifth fastest times in their Spyker Squadron Spyker C8 Spyders. Less than two seconds separated the top ten in the class, with Porsche, Ferrari, Spyker and Panoz all represented.