VIP Pet Foods on pole
Australian team, VIP Pet Foods (Porsche 911 RSR), will be starting this afternoon on pole for the third edition of the TOYO TIRES 24H of Dubai. With a lap time of 2'01"847, stalwart Craig Baird (New-Zealand) set the fastest time in the thrilling closing stages of the two hour qualifying session. With this, he also helped his Australian team-mates Tony Quinn, Klark Quinn and Jonathan Webb to pole. Closely beaten in second place is the Proton Competition-Porsche with Danes Allan Simonsen and Lars Erik Nielsen, German Christian Ried and two times' Porsche Supercup champion, Briton Richard Westbrook. The Konrad Motorsport-Porsche with Jeroen Bleekemolen, Wolfgang Kaufmann, Franz Konrad and Michael Schrey will be starting third for the race that will get underway today, Friday January 11, at 14.00 h.
Qualifying was a highly exciting affair as the temperatures decreased in the closing stages of the two hour session, with lap times improving accordingly. Thus, nearly all teams started another attempt during the last 30 minutes to try and improve their own lap times and the order on top of the leaderboard virtually changed lap after lap. When the chequered flag was out, German team Proton Competition seemed to have secured pole with Allan Simonsen in the car, but they hadn't expected the counter-attack by the Austrian VIP Pet Foods team. As one of the very last drivers still out on the track, Craig Baird set an even faster lap time that turned out to be enough to claim pole position.
The fastest time in the SP1 (specials) class was set by Dutch team Equipe Verschuur 1 with the Renault Megane Trophy (Bernhard ten Brinke, Wim Beelen, David Hart and Mike Verschuur). They just beat the Belgian Delahaye- team with an identical car (Bas Leinders, Stephane Lemeret, Gregory Franchi, Vincent Vosse and Frederic Bouvy). In the overall standings with 90 cars, the Verschuur team holds eleventh place overall as the best-placed non-Porsche. Fastest team in the A5 class was ORMS Racing (BMW Z4 Coupe, Marko Hartung, Stefan Neuberger and Franz Engstler), followed by last year's winners, Duller Motorsport (BMW M3 E46, Dieter Quester, Philipp Peter, Stefano Zonca, Andrea Bellicchi).
The other fastest times in the different classes: A1: Rhino's 1 Leipert Motorsport (Ford Fiesta, Fredy Barth, Antonio Citera, Joe Schmidtler, Christopher Mies), A2: Maeder Motorsport (Honda S2000, Andreas Maeder, Reinhold Renger, Harald Jacksties, Reiner Schonauer, Friedhelm Mihm), A4: Bas Koeten Racing (BMW Z3 Coupe, Henk de Jong, Bert de Heus, Cees Visser, Kees Rijnhout, Robbert Rijnhout), D1: Schubert Motorsport 1 (BMW 120d, Heinz Schmersal, Stian Sorlie, Jorg Viebahn, Claudia Hurtgen), SP2: Kaleji Motorsport (Ferrari 430 GTC, John Sinders/Joe Macari/ Adrian/Newey, Robert Wilson).
The three fastest drivers in qualifying:
Craig Baird (1st place, VIP Pet Foods-Porsche 911 RSR, 2.01.847 minutes): "I set a fast lap time early in the session, but it got pretty exciting in the closing stages as lap times improved. It was a matter of luck, anyone who had a clean lap was able to improve his time. This is what eventually got us pole position."
Allan Simonsen (2nd place, Proton Competition-Porsche 911 RSR, 2.02.009 minutes): "The lead was changing all the time between VIP Pet Foods, Konrad and us. When I got the chequered flag, I thought I was on pole as that was what the team told me over the radio, but three corners later, I heard that we still lost it. That is the way it goes."
Jeroen Bleekemolen (3rd place, Konrad Motorsport-Porsche 911 RSR, 2.02.189 minutes): "For me, qualifying was very busy because I had to qualify the Cup-Porsche of our own team First and then try to set a fast lap time with the Konrad-RSR. That was quite a change, because an RSR is much different from a Cup car in terms of brakes and aerodynamics. In the closing stages, it was really exciting, but also a little bit of luck. Anyone who didn't get caught up in traffic was quick."