SATURDAY 12th November 2005 QUALIFYING Weather: Dry and Sunny Track Temp: 44 degrees Ambient Temp: 27 degrees Track Length: 4263 m "WE WILL NEVER STOP LOVING THIS" Mansell (1st), Fittipaldi (2nd) & Patrese (3rd) set early pace The inaugural ...
SATURDAY 12th November 2005
QUALIFYING Weather: Dry and Sunny Track
Temp: 44 degrees
Ambient Temp: 27 degrees
Track Length: 4263 m
"WE WILL NEVER STOP LOVING THIS"
Mansell (1st), Fittipaldi (2nd) & Patrese (3rd) set early pace The inaugural Altech Grand Prix Masters South Africa moved up another gear today as the fourteen Masters took to the track for the historic opening qualifying session.
The morning Free Practice session offered the Masters a final opportunity to make adjustments to their 600-horse power Grand Prix cars and as the clock ticked towards the qualifying session, so too did the impact of the South African heat. A punishing track temperature of 44- degrees Celsius greeted the drivers and as the qualifying session approached, all fourteen cars fired up to prepare for what was a truly epic display of 'on-the-edge' race craft.
With minimal driver aids and maximum driver input, the packed grandstands were again looking forward to a master class of talent following yesterday's thrilling Free Practice sessions and again, no one was left feeling anything but stunned! The Grand Prix Masters Qualifying format is made up of a single 45-minute session in which the drivers have a total of fifteen laps at their disposal, two sets of new tyres and equal fuel loads. The drivers are free to stay out on track for as long or as little as they wish in an effort to post their fastest lap time to determine their places in tomorrow's rolling start Grand Prix race.
And as was the case yesterday, the qualifying session proved to be a closely and fiercely contested battle between Britain's Nigel Mansell, Brazil's Emerson Fittipaldi and Italy's Riccardo Patrese, with Nigel claiming the pole spot from Emerson by just over five tenths of a second and Patrese right behind in third by 500th of a second! Of the fifteen laps available, Mansell used nine, Fittipaldi fourteen and Patrese twelve.
Nigel Mansell (UK): "I'm obviously very pleased indeed to be the fastest man today but it's not really about fastest laps. We've made history today and it's as simple as that! We've just successfully launched a brand new type of racing and this is not a show, it's the real thing! I defy anyone to watch those qualifying laps today and say that these guys aren't driving on the edge! These cars are nothing short of serious thoroughbred racing machines and when unleashed on this magnificent race track, the demands upon the driver are no different to what it took years ago to win the world championships that we all did. We went quick today. Really quick! I haven't driven like that for a very long time and on one occasion, I had a wheel on the dust and I still didn't back off. Crazy stuff, it really was! No one must under estimate what has been achieved here over the last few days. Scott Poulter (CEO Grand Prix Masters) and his team have pulled off a miracle in bringing this stunning concept to fruition. Tomorrow's race will undoubtedly deliver more surprises and as you can see from every one of us, we haven't lost anything when it comes to our speed, commitment and love for this great sport!"
Emerson Fittipaldi (Brazil): "I saw Nigel's number five car come out in front of me during that last run and I thought I had to follow to see where the short cuts were! Nigel saw me behind him and as he backed off a little so did I. He then picked it up again and so did I. It really was just like the old days! Both of us pushing each other to the limit and at times beyond! I hit some traffic coming out of the pits on my second run but overall, I could not have asked for more. These cars are true racing beasts and it's an incredible feeling to be behind the wheel. I loved every second and I'm looking forward to tomorrow. We're all going to drive really hard and take these cars to the limits they deserve. A new chapter in motor racing has just kicked off this weekend and will stay for generations to come I'm sure."
Ricardo Patrese (Italy): "Another fantastic day for Grand Prix Masters and to be amongst such great company is a pleasure for me. The racing is proving to be as hard as it was back in our time and I must say I love it. Our rivalries strength over a very long period of time and our respect for each other has grown in that period. We've all only raced on the old Kyalami but this new layout is unbelievable! No time to stop and think anywhere! Far from easy, no margin for error and breathtaking cornering speeds! It's very physically demanding but we would have it no other way! While we have nothing to prove anymore, the renewed acquaintance with this sport is something I am sure we will all enjoy for quite some time to come! To say I am excited about tomorrow is an understatement, it really is. After today's performances, I'm not sure it can get any better but Grand Prix Masters keeps proving us all wrong. In addition to the sold out Kyalami circuit tomorrow, many nations will be watching the race on television and given what has been achieved so far, a compelling battle of giants is surely the icing on what has been a massive cake so far!"
RACE DAY WARM-UP 10:30 -- 10:45
RACE START 14:00