Watts claims pole for Barcelona season opener

Danny Watts set a best time of 1m32.492 driving a LMP1 Strakka Racing Ginetta Zytek GZ09S to claim pole for first race of the new year for the Le Mans Series on the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. He will be joined on the front row by Darren Turner in the Lola Aston Martin who secured the second fastest time in the qualifying session just half a second behind the Strakka Racing car.

#23 Strakka Racing Ginetta - Zytek: Peter Hardman, Nick Leventis, Danny Watts.
Photo by DPPI.

Watts speaking after the session commented, "The car was perfect. It was easy to drive, felt comfortable in every corner and was really consistent. We didn't show our hand in practice, because we were working on the setup and getting my teammates comfortable."

"I was really surprised to do that time because I hadn't gone quicker than a 1m36s in practice," added the 29 year old Brit.

The second Aston Martin Racing car took the third spot thanks to Stefan Mucke while fourth spot went to Pescarolo Sport driver Jean-Christophe Boullion.

Andrea Belicchi managed fifth fastest in the Speedy Racing Team Sebah Lola and Christijan Albers in the first appearance of the privateer Kolles R10 TDIs managed just sixth.

The new rules for this season designed to create equivalence between diesel and petrol engines mixed things up; the diesel cars have had the edge in recent times but the changes have at least put the petrol powered cars in with a shout and up front for the start of the race.

Watts was clearly happy with the result but is looking ahead for the season. "For a fairly new team, the pole is fantastic, but tomorrow is a very long race and we must stay out of trouble. We have had no technical problems for two days and the balance is really good.

"Of course, we would like to win but we are here to score points because we keep the end of the series in mind," he added.

Giacomo Piccini took LMP2 qualifying honours in the Team Racing Box Lola Judd coupe. The young Italian beat Olivier Pla in the ASM Team Ginetta Zytek with a best lap of 1m36.156 versus Pla's best at 1m36.172.

"This is my first time in Le Mans Series and Barcelona is a fantastic track," Piccini said. "I have to admit that it is sometimes difficult to stop in front of the right spot in the pits because there are so many cars1"

LMP2 pole winner Giacomo Piccini celebrates.
Photo by DPPI.

In LMGT1 the IPB Spartak Lamborghini Murcielago with Peter Kox at the wheel, clocking a time of 1m44.446.

Kox was around 1.5 seconds faster than the next car in class. "I think that the team did a good job and prepared the car very well. Lap times improved a little bit but yesterday was a hard day because there was no grip on the track," said Kox.

The Luc Alphand Aventures Chevrolet Corvette with Yann Clairay at the wheel was the second fastest LMGT1 car.

Gianmaria Bruni claimed the LMGT2 pole in the JMW Ferrari 430 GT ahead of the 13 other runners in class. The team had a shaky start with very little running on Friday due to a electrical problems causing the car to miss fire.

Bruni's time of 1m48.606 was a boost for the team, "I was like blind before the qualifying session because we had electronic problems yesterday and I did not drive many laps, but obviously we are in the right direction," he said.