A1 Ring first qualifying session

FIA GT Championship A1 Ring Round 4-6 August 2000 First Qualifying Practice Session Saturday 5 August 2000 Rain continues to fall in Austria, with light drizzle falling as the teams arrived for the first qualifying session, due to start at...

FIA GT Championship
A1 Ring Round
4-6 August 2000
First Qualifying Practice Session
Saturday 5 August 2000

Rain continues to fall in Austria, with light drizzle falling as the teams arrived for the first qualifying session, due to start at 9 am. The forecast for today is rain, with the possibility of storms later. The maximum temperature should be around 19C.

First qualifying practice session
Officially declared wet, the session saw the rain come and go, and with it the track conditions varied greatly. "The track dries very quickly when the rain stops," Tom Coronel said afterwards. "I was even driving through the wet parts on the straights to save my tyres." At the start of the session, the #3 Freisinger Porsche 911 GT2 was fastest, followed by Luca Riccitelli in the #77 RWS Porsche 911 GT3-R. Hezemans and Coronel, in the #25 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper took provisional pole after 15 minutes. After waiting in the pits to see if the rain would stop, the Belmondo cars eventually came out, with Boris Derichebourg moving straight in to third place, and then up to second, displacing the Kaufmann/Grasser Porsche 911 GT2.

Times improved steadily over the session, with Coronel setting the fastest time of 1:44.177 at the very end of the allocated 45 minutes. Derichebourg was second, seven tenths of a second slower, with Kaufmann in the Freisinger Porsche third, and the #14 Lister Storm fourth.

The fight was even closer in the N-GT class, with the top three cars within two hundredths of a second of each other at one point. However, provisional pole eventually went to Luca Riccitelli in the #77 RWS Porsche 996 GT3-R he is sharing with Dieter Quester, followed by Christophe Bouchut in the #52 Larbre Competition car and Bertuzzi and Masselli in the #55 ART Porsche.

The slippery track meant that many cars had minor offs, including the #15 Lister and the #57 ART Porsche 996 GT3-R. The #27 Orlando Porsche 911 GT2 had a minor collision with one of the Lamborghini GTs. "It damaged the front left side -- we were able to repair it, but lost twenty minutes. So we're only 13th, but we hope to improve this afternoon -- that's racing !"

Coronel puts Carsport Viper on provisional pole
The driver line-up of Tom Coronel and Mike Hezemans is proving to be virtually unbeatable at the A1 Ring, with Coronel setting the fastest time in the #25 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R, despite this being the Dutchman's first time in the Viper and at the track. "It's very nice -- I had a good run, and had no trouble with the cars, despite some light understeer. We are getting lots of benefit from the Michelin tyres," Coronel said. As for Hezemans, his best time was around half a second slower than his team-mate. "We tried some different tyres at the start, but then we changed and went fastest -- as we've been fastest throughout the weekend so far. We've just got to keep this up for the rest of the weekend and the season !"

Derichebourg second for Paul Belmondo Racing
"It didn't go too badly," Boris Derichebourg said after setting the second time in the first qualifying session. "We went out late, because we thought it might dry, but it didn't so we had to go anyway. The car is quite well balanced, although we've got some minor problems, but I'm sure we can close in on the best time. We came in at the end, when the Carsport car went even faster. We've got new tyres for the afternoon, and will challenge then !" Emmanuel Clerico did a few laps this morning, but will drive more in the afternoon. As for Derichebourg's regular co-driver in the #12 Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper, Belgian Vincent Vosse, he will be back for tomorrow's race unless his car is still running in the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. Gosselin and Belmondo, in the #11 Viper, were sixth.

Third place for Freisinger Motorsport
Kaufmann was pleased with their third place. "We went out early to have a clear run with a clear windscreen, and took provisional pole immediately, but obviously that benefit was lost later on. Still, the car goes well in the wet -- I'm very happy to have Dunlop tyres here."

He is joined this weekend by Austrian driver Grasser, making his GT debut. "My first laps were very difficult -- there is an enormous difference between a Formula car with 120 hp and a GT with 600,"the 21-year old said. "And the rain does not help. But I think I'm doing quite well, and I'm hopeful for the race. I know the track well, which helps a bit, but for every car the track is totally different. My main problem is that I am braking a bit too late -- I am used to braking fifty or sixty metres further, so I've run out of track a couple of times. My times are OK, and I was actually quicker in the dry than Wolfgang yesterday." Living locally, he is the perfect person to ask about the weather. "I think it's going to be rainy all weekend. But it can be very changeable -- every fifteen minutes it can change between dry and wet -- which makes things fun !"

Lister Storm fourth
"It's not bad but not great," Jamie Campbell Walter said after the #14 Lister Storm finished fourth in the first qualifying session. "I'd rather it was dry. The weight is the problem here : we just can't brake late. And even the GT3 cars are pulling away from us out of the hairpin. Fourth isn't too bad, considering the circuit is new to us all -- in the dry, it's great, and we'd be up there, much closer to the pace. We've got to pray for dry..." As for the #15 Lister Storm, Jamie described Philippe Favre as having a "nightmare session," with a couple of excursions off the track stranding the car down in twenty-first spot.

Lafon and Jarier fifth
The all-French team of Jean-Pierre Jarier and François Lafon were delighted with fifth place in the first session, after Jarier went out with new brakes and pads and set a time of 1:46.183 at the very end of the session -- exactly the same time as the Championship-leading Lister Storm. As for gentleman driver Lafon, he was also very happy with his times, considering that this is his first time at the track and his first time in the Viper in the wet.

Bouchut inherits provisional pole for Larbre Competition
Second after the end of the session, the #52 Larbre Competition Porsche 996 GT3-R inherited provisional pole after Luca Riccitelli's time was disallowed after scrutineering. "It went quite well," the N-GT classification leader said after his lap of 1:47.212. "It was very important to be out there driving from the beginning to the end, because the weather conditions and the track were changing all the time. The car is fine -- we had some slight worries in scrutineering afterwards because of the front blade, but we're OK." The team's second car, driven by Andre Arhle and Ferdinand de Lesseps, was fourth in the N-GT class.

GTC EMKA second
"We were quickest to start with, but then we came in and tried another tyre, and it was really the wrong choice : the wrong tyre at the wrong time. We should really have stayed out on the first tyres, because we missed the best bit of the session weather-wise. We really needed a downpour after ten minutes," Tim Sugden said after their best lap of 1:48.184 put the #56 GTC EMKA car fourth in class, rising to second after the ART and RWS / Red Bull Racing cars lost their times.

Wrong weather for G-Force
"It was a gamble that didn't work," Nigel Smith said after the two Pennzoil Quaker State G-Force Porsche 996 GT3s were a relatively low fifth and seventh in the first session. "We went out with dry settings and wet tyres, which, if it had dried up, would have been really good. But it remained wet, and that meant it was really frustrating, as the times were just not there. You could drive like crazy, but still not improve. "

Riccitelli loses fastest N-GT time
Once again, Luca Riccitelli proved to be the fastest of the N-GT drivers, setting a time of 1:46.662 in the #77 RWS Red Bull Porsche 996 GT3-R he is sharing with Austrian driver Dieter Quester. However, the car's times were cancelled after the car failed post-session scrutineering. The relevant paragraphs in the regulations state that the bottom part of the car cannot be modified and must remain identical to that of the original car ; and that no part of the car must touch the ground when the car is resting on the two wheels (without the tyres) on the same side.

"This track is very difficult in these weather conditions," Dieter Quester said. "It has very strange tarmac -- the grip is very poor, and it changes from corner to corner. It can be very slippery -- like skating, but without skates ! The car is going very well, though, and Luca is incredible in the wet. "

ART loses third place
The #55 Art Engineering Porsche 996 GT3-R, which had set the third time in N-GT in this morning's practice, had their times cancelled following a breach of technical regulations. The relevant paragraphs state that the dimensions and functions of the doors must remain original, and that no part of the car must touch the ground when the car is resting on two wheels on the same side. The team stated that they were "extremely disappointed".

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Tom Coronel , Vincent Vosse , Emmanuel Clérico , Mike Hezemans , Luca Riccitelli , Christophe Bouchut , Boris Derichebourg , Dieter Quester , Jean-Pierre Jarier , Paul Belmondo , Tim Sugden , Nigel Smith , Philippe Favre , Ferdinand de Lesseps
Teams Larbre Competition