Friday Prototypes After the two practice sessions during the day, when the Panoz's and the Lola's were the strongest runners, and the BMWs seemed to be in trouble, the first qualifying session was met with great interest. The qualifying session...
After the two practice sessions during the day, when the Panoz's and the Lola's were the strongest runners, and the BMWs seemed to be in trouble, the first qualifying session was met with great interest. The qualifying session works on a 15 minute shoot-out basis.
Just before 3pm, the green flag went out, and McNish was setting the early pace in the Audi, with a 1m37.696, with Johansson's Reynard second, and Auberlen in the BMW. Christian Gläsel came into the pits for new tyres, after some exploratory laps, and left for his attempt at pole.
McNish continued to set the pace, and put in a 1m37.496. After 7 minutes, the position was Audi of McNish, Johansson in the Johansson Matthews Reynard, Bill Auberlen in the BMW, the Audi of Biela, and the Riley & Scott.
Both Panoz's then were out on the track, and almost at the same time, both BMWs pitted. Lehto in the BMW was struggling greatly, and had extra front wing endplates added to the car. "Either I have understeer or I have oversteer - I just could not get it right. We definitely have to find a better solution" said Lehto. His team mate agreed "We have the same sort of problems as we already experienced at the first round at Sebring. The car is quite agressive and therefore diffiuclt to keep under control" said Müller.
The DAMS Cadillac of Marc Goosens started to make progress and was up to 7th place.
Lehto now returned to the track, to try and make some progress in the troublesome BMW. David Brabham quickly made his way up to the front row, and in second with a 1m37.581, making a top 5 of Audi, Panoz, Reynard, BMW, Audi, Riley & Scott.
After ten minutes, the Japanese Kiroki Katoh was in pole position in the Panoz, only to be pipped a minute later by the sister car of Brabham, making an all Panoz front row, with the Audi, Reynard, BMWs behind.
With just a minute to go to the flag, Mimmo Schiatarella appeared from nowhere, and put the Lola B2K 10 Judd on pole position as the flag dropped. He later said "I love Silverstone, it's a real Grand Prix circuit, one of the last 'old style' tracks: great straight and really fast corners. No excuses hence: real drivers have to go flat out". On his chances in the race he said "We know, everyone knows, we are a small team compared to BMW, Audi and Panoz but we have a great strength; we are a very close squad with a hunger to win".
David Brabham said that "I feel I didn't really get a clear lap. I had a car in front of me on my first flying lap which got in the way" forcing him down to second. Don Panoz, his boss, was very impressed with the circuit itself "Silverstone, which is the home of British racing, is a magnificent facility".
Stephen M Baines http://www.motorsport.org.uk