FIA GT Championship Round 11 Superpole And Group B Second Qualifying
A brief rain-shower started just as the first car came out for the Superpole single-lap session. It only lasted around five minutes, before the sun came out and started to dry the track.
Antonio Garcia takes N-GT and overall pole for RWS Motorsport The weather played a major role in the Superpole qualifying for the final race of the 2001 FIA GT Championship season. Antonio Garcia, at the wheel of the nr 76 RWS Porsche 996 GT3-R, was the first of the N-GT drivers on the track, having set the sixth-best time in the morning session. The first drops of rain started as he began his timed lap ; when he finished, 1:45.694 minutes later, the track was wet and it was pouring with rain. Although the shower was very brief, and the sun came back out shortly afterwards, the young Spaniard had an unassailable lead on the slow-drying Estoril circuit, and he will therefore start from the first position on the grid for tomorrow’s 500 km race. "However, I don’t think I will keep first position for very long," the 21-year old said.
The drivers immediately after Garcia, Philipp Peter in the nr 69 Orlando Porsche 996 GT3-R and Patrice Goueslard in the nr 50 Larbre Porsche, had the worst of the weather, as they were on slick tyres on a drenched track. By the time Championship leader Luca Riccitelli came out, on wet tyres, he was able to lap within ten seconds of Garcia, setting the second-best N-GT time. Fabio Babini, fastest in the first qualifying session, had a spin on his out lap on intermediate tyres, but recovered to set the third N-GT time. Riccitelli, in the nr 77 RWS Porsche, will start from 8th place on the grid, with Babini 9th.
Lister’s Campbell-Walter takes GT pole
Jamie Campbell-Walter, fastest in the first qualifying session, maintained his position in the Superpole, to set the best GT time. However, due to the fast-changing Estoril weather, he will start from second place on the grid, alongside the nr 76 RWS Porsche 996 GT3-R. Campbell-Walter was last out on the track, and was therefore able to benefit from the driest conditions. However, on rain tyres as a precautionary measure, he was not able to equal Garcia’s time from the start of the Superpole, and his lap of 1:48.501 was 2.8 seconds off the pole time. Mike Hezemans was second fastest in the GT class, in the nr 3 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper, with Julian Bailey third in the second Lister Storm.
Second Qualifying Session
With the track nearly dry, the second qualifying session was significantly faster than the first, and most teams managed to improve on their morning times. Fastest overall was the nr 15 Prodrive Ferrari 550 Maranello, with a lap of 1:39.630. The nr 1 Lister Storm, driven by Bobby Verdoe-Roe, was a tenth of a second slower, with the nr 3 Carsport Holland Viper third. Fastest of the cars which did not qualify for the Superpole was the nr 17 Larbre Competition Chrysler Viper GTS-R of Duez, Bourdais and Chereau, which will therefore start from 13th position on the grid. The nr 12 Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper of Derichebourg and Vosse will start alongside it.
In the N-GT class, the nr 77 RWS Porsche of Riccitelli and Maassen set the best time, of 1:42.841, with their Championship rivals, the nr 62 JMB Ferrari 360 Modena of Terrien and Pescatori second. Stephane Ortelli and Romain Dumas were third, in the nr 57 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche.
Jamie Campbell-Walter (GBR)– nr 1 Lister Storm– 1st GT, 2nd overall. "Obviously testing was very nice, we had a good session and ended up quickest in the dry. Wet qualifying was also very good and I think we have a good car for the race. Wet or dry, it doesn’t really matter. Bobby and I, Julian and Nicolaus are all enjoying the car in both conditions. I’m looking forward to a good weekend. It was pretty dry when I did my superpole lap, and unfortunately I was on wet tyres. But it was an advantage to be out last, when the track was driest. We had decided to play safe as it was difficult to tell from the TV how wet the track was, due to the sun glistening on the surface, making it look wetter than it actually was. By the time I got in the car, Bouchut was going out and there was still spray from the back of his car, so we decided to take the safe option. It was the wrong option, but it was the right option in another sense. I wish I’d gone on intermediates, but it didn’t really make any difference. I’m looking forward to a good race. We’ve had some bad Superpole sessions, which are difficult for us because our tyres don’t come in very quickly, but here they did , so this is a good result."
Julian Bailey (GBR)– nr 2 Lister Storm– 3rd in GT : "I wouldn’t say we’ve finally beaten the Superpole ; it’s just a matter of our tyres taking a while to get up to temperature, which is why we are usually up at the front after ten laps or fifteen laps."
Mike Hezemans (NED)– nr 3 Carsport Viper– 2nd in GT. "It was quite an amusing lap, and I was sliding more than normal. We put on the softest rain tyres and it was really not good. Sebastiaan had just finished his lap, and he came on the radio and said we should put on intermediates, but as I had just driven out of the pits, I could not do anything. I just took the lap very easy, but right away, after three corners, it was finished. I was actually surprised I did a 1:50. For the race, Jeroen is starting, and I hope he makes a good start. I think it will be between Jamie, the Ferrari and us, to be honest."
Christian Ried (GER)– nr 8 Proton Porsche - 32nd on the grid : "Things are going quite well now, after we changed the gear-box yesterday. But I really hope the sun shines tomorrow– and keeps on shining for the whole race. This changeable weather is really incredible."
Anthony Kumpen (BEL)– nr 11 Belmondo Viper - 17th on the grid : "It’s not going so good this weekend. In free practice, we had problems with the differential and a piece of the suspension that came loose. This morning, things were going pretty well, and I was in fifth position when I lost third gear. Without that, I would have been in the Superpole, definitely. So we only had the second qualifying session. Because of yesterday’s problem, we had no set-up for the dry conditions. Paul drove the session, and tried hard to find a good set-up for us. Now he says that the car is going well. We should be fine for the rain, and apparently the dry will be also be OK after Paul’s work."
Jean-Luc Chereau (FRA)– nr 17 Larbre Viper– 7th GT : "This is my first time in the Viper in competition ; I had previously tested the car at Le Vigeant . The car takes a bit of getting used to ; it’s very agile and responsive, and very easy to drive, although it looks very aggressive. But there is a lot of power compared to the Porsche, and it is different under braking. This is a nice way to finish the season, and a bit of fun. But it is also interesting in terms of 2002, to see whether I might drive it full time.
I am very, very pleased with the team this year, winning the Championship two years in a row, and this year in the overall category. Especially as they started off with a new car, which turned out to be very competitive. The team worked hard over the winter, and they were all very motivated and enthusiastic ; all the hard work paid off, which is an excellent reward in itself. Concerning next year, we have an ongoing project for the FIA GT Championship ; if it coincides with our plans, we expect to continue. I believe the car can still be developed and can be competitive. Success has to be carried onwards !"
Fabio Babini (ITA)– nr 54 Art Porsche– 3rd N-GT : "It was too difficult in the Superpole because I had intermediate tyres on, which was all right in the first part of the track, but the second part of the track was still very damp, and it was not the right choice. I had a spin on my out-lap, but I recovered to go third fastest. My car was not easy due to oversteering, but this position is very good for tomorrow’s race."
Thierry Perrier (FRA)– nr 55 Perspective Porsche– 26th on the grid : "We had a really bad session in the morning, but we made some changes to the gear-box and the car is now much better. But fifteen minutes is not enough to really work on the times. To improve, I find I need to do four or five laps, then to stop and analyse what is happening, and then go out again. In a short session, it is not possible to do that."
Antonio Garcia (ESP)– nr 76 RWS Porsche– 1st N-GT and overall: " I was very, very lucky. At the beginning of the lap, the first drops of rain were falling, but the track was still dry. By the time I reached the last corner, it was quite wet, but it was drier than for the others. It was a big surprise for sure, but tomorrow is another matter– I’ll be on pole for just a few metres. I’ve enjoyed racing in GTs this season, but I still consider myself a single-seater driver. However, this result is good for me and for my career, and good experience for me."
Luca Riccitelli (ITA)– nr 77 RWS Porsche– 2nd N-GT : "For sure, this is a good position from which to start the race. I started my lap on rain tyres, which work better here than the intermediates if you don’t have the time to warm them up. It was the most difficult situation when I did my lap, as you couldn’t see the water on the track, and you can think it is dry, but if you push, you realize it is not like that. I was losing grip on all the corners. I tried to do my best and I’m happy with the car; it is quick in all conditions, and Sascha did a good time in the second qualifying session, in the dry. However, the race will be very tough."
Philippe Brocard – nr 90 Porsche, team manager. "Kalliste is a new team, created this year, and we ran four cars in the French GT Championship. As the French Championship’s season is over, we decided to come and try the FIA GT Championship. Our long-term aim is to race here full time, but it was too much for a first year. We have no pretensions about our performances this weekend. The technical specifications are rather different between the two Championships, and we had to change the ride height of the car. This meant that all our set-ups needed to be changed - and we have three gentlemen drivers, who do not know the track. However, we came to see what we thought of the Championship, and we like it. The atmosphere is very good and the teams are all very friendly. We will see for next year, although we already have a busy scheduled planned between the French GT Championship and the Carrera Cup. But it remains our goal, either for 2002 or 2003."