A1 Ring second qualifying session

FIA GT Championship @A1 Ring Round (7 out of 10) 24 - 6 August 2000 Second Qualifying Practice Session Saturday 5 August 2000 Weather After the morning's rain, it was bright but overcast as the second qualifying session got underway. The...

FIA GT Championship @A1 Ring Round (7 out of 10)
24 - 6 August 2000
Second Qualifying Practice Session
Saturday 5 August 2000

Weather
After the morning's rain, it was bright but overcast as the second qualifying session got underway. The track remained extremely damp, and the session was officially classified as wet.

Second Qualifying Practice Session
With the track drying and the weather relatively bright, times began to improve during the first part of the session, with most drivers improving on their morning times. However, a brief shower mid-session ended any hopes of the track drying totally, and times remained low. Hezemans and Coronel, in the #25 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R, were fastest throughout, gradually improving on their time until Mike Hezemans clinched pole with a lap of 1:42.177. Julian Bailey, in the #14 Lister Storm, leapt up into second place with ten minutes of the session remaining, relegating Boris Derichebourg in the #12 Paul Belmondo Racing Viper to third. However, at the very end of the session, a quick lap from Wolfgang Kaufmann gave the #3 Freisinger Porsche 911 GT2 a front row position for tomorrow's grid, with the Listers third and fifth, separated by the leading Paul Belmondo Chrysler Viper.

In N-GT, the usual pole contenders, the Larbre Competition and RWS Red Bull Racing Porsches, were relegated to third and fourth places, while the ART Engineering cars, which have shown great promise all weekend, were unbeatable in the wet conditions, claiming first and second places on the grid for the all-Italian line-ups of Bertuzzi and Masselli in the #55, and Collini and Mancini in the #57 Porsche 996 GT3-R.

Carsport Chrysler Viper on pole
Carsport Holland and their drivers Hezemans and Coronel put the #25 Chrysler Viper on pole position for tomorrow's 500 km race, with a time of 1:42.707, set towards the end of the 45-minute session. "I tried one set of tyres, but it was not good," pole setter Hezemans said. "So we had to change again, and lost the driest part of the session. Then the rain started, but I could still do a time. The set up is really good, and we seem to have a lot of grip, more than anyone else."

"Now we need to do the race," Coronel said, after trading fastest laps with Hezemans throughout the weekend. "But we've found the tyres for the race, both for the long distance and for different conditions. Our strategy will be to stay on the black stuff !" Coronel is enjoying his first visit to the FIA GT Championship. "But I always enjoy it when I'm driving. The team is very relaxed, and it's good fun." The only other time the two have driven together was in a 24-hour karting race, when they finished third. "It rained then, too," Coronel added.

Surprise second for Freisinger Motorsport
"That was very tough," Wolfgang Kaufmann said after claiming a front row place on the grid for the #3 Porsche 911 GT2. "We'd dropped down to sixth, and when Grasser came in to hand over to me, there were some changes to be made, and it took longer than I'd expected. Time was rapidly running out, so I went out with just five minutes to go. Then I got a clear lap, and everything went well, but I couldn't believe I was second -- I was really happy. I did try again, but there were yellow flags, and grass on the track where someone had spun. The first row is fantastic, and it's good for the team, who are working very hard, with the French GT Championship and the Suzuka 1000 km as well as the FIA GT. But it's just qualifying -- if we do the same tomorrow, I'll be really, really happy."

The team's second car, driven by Palmberger and Hane, will start from ninth on the grid. "I was always unlucky," Palmberger said. "Every good lap I had a yellow flag, and I had hoped it would dry more. But the car is OK."

Lister third and fifth
"We almost got back up there," Julian Bailey said, after his time of 1:43.937 was good enough for third place for the #14 Lister Storm. "We really needed another set of tyres, but didn't have the time. But still, we caught them up, and I think we began to worry the leaders !" The team made some drastic changes to the set-up, and the car is now more comfortable to drive. "Now we're just watching the weather," Bailey said.

The team's second car improved from nineteenth in the morning to fifth overall. "The car was undriveable this morning, but they made some changes, and it was immediately better," Philippe Favre explained. "I gained four seconds right away. This morning I couldn't go better than a 1:49 -- and that was pushing really hard."

Paul Belmondo Racing fourth and sixth
"I ran into traffic on my best lap, and then could not improve," Paul Belmondo said, after placing the #11 Chrysler Viper sixth for tomorrow's race. "But our aim tomorrow will simply be to stay on the track." As team owner, however, the Frenchman was pleased that it was Carsport who took pole, rather than Lister, with whom they are fighting for the Team Championship lead. "We have quite a margin over Carsport, so that is better for us," Belmondo added.

Boris Derichebourg's best lap of 1:44.178 put the #12 Chrysler Viper fourth. "It's not too bad," he said. "But we went off in the wrong direction, and I don't think Clerico and I have the same ideas on the set-up. We'll have to make a compromise for the race. I think it's going to be difficult, especially with the constantly changing conditions."

One --Two for ART Engineering
"Finally a good result," said pole-setter Costantino Bertuzzi, of the #55 Art Engineering Porsche 996 GT3-R, after claiming N-GT pole with a lap of 1:45.931 in the second qualifying session. "We've had two retirements in the last races, with an accident and with mechanical problems ! The new Pirelli tyres work very well, and it's great to have both cars on the first line. I really hope that tomorrow it will rain again as the tyres are really good and very competitive. It could be a really nice race if it keeps raining." Bertuzzi was stung by a bee yesterday, but luckily the swelling had subsided and he was able to put on his helmet without problems.

In the morning the team lost their times after scrutineering. "We had a new front spoiler, and put it on without checking the ride height, and the extra 3 mm made all the difference. The morning's disqualification really made me attack more !"

Collini and Mancini also put in an excellent performance to join their team-mates on the front row. "I knew something was wrong this morning, so knew it would be better in the afternoon," Collini said. "We made a few changes to the car, and thanks to my team-mate, who is a very good driver, we set a good time."

Larbre Competition third and eighth
N-GT category leaders Bouchut and Goueslard set the third time in their class, with a time of 1:46.386, having overtaken the #77 RWS Red Bull car just before the end of the session. The team's second car, driven by Andre Arhle and Ferdinand de Lesseps, will start eighth, after a frustrating session for Arhle. "That was not so good," he said afterwards. "I was on a very fast lap, close to perfect, when I made a mistake on the last curve and went over the grass. I tried again, again it was nearly perfect, when I met a slow Lamborghini. I passed it at a wide angle, but the car missed its braking and pushed me into the gravel. I think we could have been in the top five. Still, the car is very good in the rain, and I think we have a big chance of a good result tomorrow."

Lamborghini GTs still going strong
It looks as if the Lamborghini GT cars will finally get to the start line, after running consistently throughout this weekend's practice sessions. The #24 MTR car qualified 19th, while the #23 KRT Kronseder/Jobst car is slightly further back in twenty-fourth place. "It's going better," Bernhard Muller said. "I'm really glad to be back on the first page of the timing screen again ! We found three seconds this afternoon, and have a more useful wet set-up. We're now feeling a bit happier -- we're going in the right direction, the times are coming down and we're working hard." However, the team feels the difference between themselves and the other teams which have been running all season. "The car is nice to drive now," Muller said. "We had problems with the rear axle yesterday which made it very bad , but now it's easier to handle."

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Julian Bailey , Mike Hezemans , Boris Derichebourg , Wolfgang Kaufmann , Paul Belmondo , Philippe Favre , Bernhard Muller
Teams Larbre Competition