The number 28 Saleen of GNM qualified 12th for the Proximus 24hours of Spa 2004 with Paolo Ruberti, Christophe Geoffroy, Sergey Zlobin and Gian Maria Gabbiani. Things have not been easy for the first and second practice and qualifying sessions.
The Donington (UK) based team worked very hard to sort out some technical issues which delayed working on setup for the race. Amazingly Paolo qualified the car in 12th place without head lights in the night session.
The 27 year old Italian commented "We had a problem in my qualifying night session with alternator as the battery was not charging. I did just one lap as I was black-flagged. It was Completely dark and I was more or less alone". The misfire came as result of a failing alternator. Paolo completed this mornings warm-up, covering 4 laps. "The car was good this morning no problems. We ran in race configuration this morning and I did a good time: 2nd quickest".
Starting for the 1st time in a Saleen are Belgian Spa specialist Christophe Geoffroy, and Russian open wheel driver Sergey Zlobin. The last race for Christophe was Belcar race last June. This experience is altogether different as this will be his first time in a GTS car. "This car makes you very confident. The engine is great and the chassis is very responsive . It's an "easy" car to drive. We have no problems now and if we are consistent and gentle we can finish in the top five. It will be a long race and hard for the mechanincs. I would like to thank two main sponsors: Radio CIEL and Radillon Watches for providing this ooppoortunity with me".
For Sergey also this is his 1st 24 hours race in Spa. "The track is crazy but the car is easy to control. The weight of the car is not comparable to the F3000 I drove here last week. This is my third 24h race. I did Daytona twice. I'm looking forward to the race. I am proud to be involded with famous drivers like Hans Stuck, Jorg and Dirk Mulller, Karl Wendinlger etc. We should introduce a new habit and replace the champagne with the Vodka of my sponsor: PUTINKA VODKA. Northern SEAWAY BANK ".
Gian Maria is racing in the LMES with Graham Nash Motorsport and this is also his 1st 24h race. "In first lap I almost hit the wall because I have no time to learn the track due to earlier difficulties that we had. I learned that Eau Rouge is in 5th gear and that I should brake! Yesterday I had two laps and learned the difference between the car's ACO setup and the FIA GT setup. The car is very technically different. It is not bad learning the car and track at the same time. I have to thank my sponsors: JBC constructions, ALBINI PITIGLIANI freight forwarding company and COVERI fashion group. I hope that we are able to finish the race but I think the team have done a great job so far ".
The race will start at 16:00 today.