Bas Leinders on pole position!
Saturday's qualifying sessions of the sixth round of the 2003 World Series by Nissan had a bit of everything for Racing Engineering. Whereas Racing Engineering's drivers Bas Leinders and Stephane Sarrazin were shining in the first qualifying finishing in first and third position, the expectations were not met during the second session, which saw Bas in fifth and Stephane in sixth position.
After Friday's good private practice results the expectations of Racing Engineering's drivers have been high for the two Saturday qualifying sessions. When leaving the pits and joining the battle for the fastest lap time on the Austrian A1 Ring, both Bas Leinders and Stephane Sarrazin were immediately lapping excellent times.
Bas, the experienced Belgian, who faced a lot of bad luck during the races so far, could finally prove his competitiveness and marked a lap time that brought him into pole position in his eighth lap out of the pits. With five minutes still to go Bas one more time improved his lap time (1'22.132) and underlined his position one on the starting grid for tomorrow's first race.
Stephane Sarrazin fighting for pole position and permanently being within the top three was handicapped by a clutch problem. Already in Friday's afternoon session Stephane reported the same problem and Racing Engineering's crew has replaced the clutch in the evening. Stephane pushed hard throughout the session and was rewarded with position three for tomorrow's race one.
Racing Engineering's mechanics were busy changing the clutch on Stephane Sarrazin's car again after the first qualifying session so hopes were high for session two.
Stephane went out on used tyres but came in after one flying lap to receive a new set of tyres. Stephane was in a good position soon, but a change on the set up from qualifying one to qualifying two did not proved to be the right one and Stephane therefore reported a lack of grip throughout the entire qualifying session. Stephane will go into Sunday's race two from sixth position marking a lap time of 1'22.124.
Bas Leinders generally working very close with his teammate Stephane suffered from a very similar problem. Small changes on the set up for the first session turned out to be not working into the direction the driver and his engineer thought and even caused him going off the track at one point of the session. When entering the pits the car could quickly be repaired but the remaining time was not enough to gain a better result than fifth position.
After his first pole position in the 2003 season Bas Leinders said, "I am very happy to be on the top again. We all worked very hard to achieve this pole position. Now we have to put it into win. In the second qualifying we had a problem with the set up that even resulted in me going off. I came to the pits and my crew repaired the damage so I finished fifth. Still I am also very happy with the fifth position coming from nowhere in the second session.
Stephane Sarrazin announced, "Compared to yesterday's performance I am not very happy. Yesterday the car was very fast but today I just couldn't get any grip. In the first qualifying I had the problem with the clutch and maybe lost pole position. In the second qualifying I just couldn't make enough laps and at no point I had sufficient grip."