Jarek Janis followed in the footsteps of another local hero, Tomas Enge, by claiming pole position for the second round of the FIA GT Championship, in Brno. With three different marques in the top three, a varied field will take the start of tomorrow's 500 km, three hour race.
In GT2, a quintet of Ferrari 430 GT2 cars led the category, with Scuderia Ecosse's Tim Mullen setting his first pole position. The race starts at 13:30 on Sunday, and will be shown live on a number of TV stations, including Player, AB Moteurs, Sky Italia and Czech 4.
The big question in Brno remains the weather, which has been overcast. Showers have been predicted for the whole weekend, but so far they have mainly fallen overnight. However, rain remains a possibility for tomorrow. "I don't mind," pole setter Janis said. "I like driving in the rain !"
JANIS CLAIMS POLE IN BRNO
Jarek Janis claimed his first FIA GT Championship pole position in Brno today, with a lap of 1:55.660 in the nr 9 Zakspeed Racing Saleen S7. This is the first time a Saleen has started from the front of the grid since Oschersleben 2004, when Walter Lechner Jr put the Konrad Motorsport Saleen on pole.
"Everything has been going pretty well for us since the beginning of the weekend," Janis said. "Michelin showed that they have very good tyres, and I also have to thank my team which prepared a good set-up. Hopefully we had an even better set-up for the race. I'm also happy because my brother won the Skoda Octavia race, so it's a nice feeling."
The only Czech driver in the GT1 category this weekend, Janis is following in the footsteps of Tomas Enge, who claimed pole in Brno in 2001 and 2003.
Second place on the grid went to the nr 2 Vitaphone Racing Team Maserati MC 12, Jamie Davies having set a time of 1:56.105, four tenths behind the Saleen. Third, for the second race in a row, went to the nr 5 Phoenix Racing Aston Martin DBR9. The nr 23 Aston Martin Racing BMS DBR9 was fourth, just ahead of the nr 4 GLPK Carsport Corvette C6-R.
MULLEN CLAIMS GT2 POLE FOR SCUDERIA ECOSSE
Ferrari dominated GT2 qualifying in Brno, with five of the new cars leading the time sheets. For the second race in a row, Scuderia Ecosse captured pole position, although this time it was the nr 63 Ferrari 430 GT2 which set the best lap. Tim Mullen claimed his first FIA GT2 pole with a lap of 2:02.104. He is sharing the car this weekend with British driver Phil Bennett, his regular team-mate Chris Niarchos being unavailable. As well as racing in the FIA GT, Mullen and Niarchos are competing in the British GT Championship, where they have won all three races to date. Mullen was just over a tenth of a second faster than Silverstone pole-sitter, Andrew Kirkaldy, in the team's second car. "It's a good result for the team," Tim said. "The car is pretty good on new tyres, so Michelin and the team did a perfect job. It is a very challenging track here, so it is important to find a good race set-up." Third place in GT2 went to Tim Sugden in the nr 55 JMB -- GruppeM Ferrari 430 GT2, ahead of the two AF Corse cars. The leading Porsche, in 6th position in GT2, was the nr 75 Ebimotors car of Emmanuel Collard and Luca Riccitelli, 1.5 seconds ahead of the second Porsche, their team-mates Moccia and Busnelli.
90 RACES FOR GEROLD RIED
Team Felbermayr-Proton's Gerold Ried was presented with a trophy during today's qualifying press conference, in order to celebrate his 90th FIA GT race, which took place at Silverstone. Considering that this is the 96th round of the FIA GT Championship, he has only missed five races since the very first round in Hockenheim 1997. SRO Chairman, Stephane Ratel, who presented Ried with the trophy, explained: "We are in our tenth season and this year's Dijon round will be the 100th race of the FIA GT Championship. The first one was in Hockenheim in 1997, at the time of the Mercedes CLK, the McLaren F1 GTR, the Panoz and the Porsche GT1...Today, it is time to award a driver who has done most of the races of the FIA GT Championship, having missed only a few events in ten years. Even before that, he was also racing with us in the BPR series, so in fact he has raced with us since probably 1995 ! I have even have been his co-driver because he invited me to race with his Porsche GT2 in Brasilia in 1996."
Gerold Ried commented: "I have done many races in this Championship, I've had a lot of fun, and I hope that I will continue for a long time!"
The session had barely started when it was red flagged, Anthony Kumpen having spun on his first lap out of the pits, in the nr 4 GLPK Carsport Corvette C6-R. The session quickly restarted, and the nr 33 Race Alliance Aston Martin was the first to lead the time sheets, with a lap of 1:57.902. Jamie Davies was next to top the lists, with a lap of 1:56.105, while Andrea Piccini set a time of 1:56.702 to go second. Shortly afterwards, Jarek Janis put in a lap of 1:55.660 to take the lead. For the rest of the 20-minute session, the positions barely changed. The Ferrari cars dominated GT2 throughout, with pole going to the nr 63 Scuderia Ecosse car. Two cars did not take part in the qualifying session : the nr 54 Vonka Racing Porsche, which had engine problems, and the nr 101 Gillet Vertigo, with a transmission problem.
Pole Position, GT1 :Jarek Janis -- nr 9 Zakspeed Saleen S7-R : "Everything has been going pretty well for us since the beginning of the weekend. Michelin showed that they have very good tyres, so I'm happy for them and I also have to thank my team, which prepared a good set-up. Hopefully we will have an even better set-up for the race. Tomorrow is going to be quite difficult because we do not know the weather conditions: will it rain or not ? We'll have to wait and see! We do not know yet! So, everything could be different tomorrow. I am now feeling very comfortable with the car, and hopefully we can do a similar job tomorrow. I'm also happy because my brother won the Skoda Octavia race, so with me on pole position, and my brother winning the first race, it is a nice feeling."
2nd, GT1 : Jamie Davis, nr 2 Vitaphone Racing Team Maserati MC 12: "After the first free practice session we were not quite happy with the balance of the car, but with Maserati and Vitaphone Racing Team, we worked very hard to change the situation. We also have to thank Pirelli; they have made the right choice for the qualifying and also for the race. After problems in free practice yesterday, we have obviously moved forward with the chassis and I'm very happy now with the balance of the car. I think that we have a good idea for the race as well, so hopefully this could be a good result for us."
3rd, GT1 : Andrea Piccini, nr 5 Phoenix Racing Aston Martin DBR9: "This session was much more difficult than in Silverstone, because there, we started much better than we expected, we were fastest since free practice, right away. Here, yesterday, we had quite a lot of problems with the car, we had tried new things. We did not have much testing since the beginning of the season, so we are still learning about the car. So in fact we tested some things yesterday which did not work out, we had to go back; so it is as if we completely lost yesterday's free practice session. This morning the car was quite good, and we tried to improve the car for the qualifying, and in the end it was ok. Tomorrow if it rains, like in Silverstone, we have to make the right choice, but I think we have good tyres and a good set-up, so we are quite confident for the race."
Pole position, GT2 : Tim Mullen, nr 63 Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari 430 GT2: "It' s a good result, and testing was not too bad as well. The car is pretty good on new tyres, so Michelin and the team did a perfect job. It is a very challenging track here, and it is difficult to have a car which is efficient on all the corners so it is important to find a good race set-up. We had a good battle with Andrew, it is always like that between us, but before all it is a good result for the team."
2nd, GT2 : Andrew Kirkaldy, nr 62 Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari 430 GT2: "I'd like to be on pole position of course, but it is a good result for the team even if I do not like it when Tim beats me! We had a problem with the car so I hope we won't have to change the engine because if we do, we will have to start from the back of the grid. The car has been good since the beginning of the weekend. Everything depends on the race condition, but we'll work for a great result."
3rd , GT2 : Tim Sugden, nr 55 JMB-Gruppe M Ferrari 430 GT2 : "We did not have any testing before the season started, and we received the car only few days before the first race in Silverstone. We made a little mistake with the set-up because the car changes a lot with new tyres, which were very difficult to get warm. We need to work with our engineer in order to find what to do; we are still learning. During the race we will have to fight during the first laps, but we could do a good result."