Anderstorp: Qualifying report

Weather Another bright, sunny day has seen the spectators flock to the Scandinavian Raceway, in Anderstorp, Sweden, for the seventh LG Super Racing Weekend of the year, which today included qualifying for Sunday's seventh round of the 2003 FIA GT...

Weather
Another bright, sunny day has seen the spectators flock to the Scandinavian Raceway, in Anderstorp, Sweden, for the seventh LG Super Racing Weekend of the year, which today included qualifying for Sunday's seventh round of the 2003 FIA GT Championship

First pole for Walter Lechner Jr

Austrian driver Walter Lechner Jr took his first pole position in the FIA GT Championship in Sweden today, with an electrifying lap of 1:28.899 round the 4.025 km circuit. After starting the season in the N-GT category with RWS Yukos, Lechner moved to Konrad Motorsport for the previous round in Spa-Francorchamps, when he set the second-fastest qualifying time round the Belgian track. Despite not spending much time in the car this weekend, he was the only driver to go beneath the 1:29 barrier, and was 0.858 seconds faster than the second car, also a Saleen. "I still don't know the limit of the car, and the tyres were not up to temperature, so I could have been two or three tenths faster," Walter said. "But the car is working well, and I am very happy with my first GT pole." This is the third pole position for Konrad Motorsport, Jean-Marc Gounon having claimed the front of the grid for the team in Pergusa and Brno.

It will be a Saleen front row on the grid for tomorrow's race, with the nr 7 Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7-R of Thomas Erdos and Mike Newton qualifying second with a time of 1:29.757. Behind the two Saleen cars, the next 10 GT cars set qualifying times within one second, promising an extremely close and interesting three-hour race tomorrow. The Championship-leading BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello of Biagi and Bobbi was third fastest, followed by the two Lister Racing Storms.

Collard takes N-GT pole for EMKA Racing

Emmanuel Collard set the fastest time in the N-GT category in Anderstorp today, and will start from 18th position on the grid tomorrow, in the nr 61 EMKA Racing Porsche 996 GT3-RS. The Frenchman, who won the race here last year in the Freisinger Motorsport Porsche, set a time of 1:33.083 in the morning session. "Last year was very different as it was raining hard. But the car is going well, we have a good set-up for the race, and my team-mate Tim Sugden is very quick, so I am confident for tomorrow. I think the outcome will depend on making no mistakes and having a good pit-stop." Collard was eight tenths of a second ahead of the rest of the field in the morning, but Andrea Bertolini, in the nr 52 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena, closed to within a tenth of the nr 61's time in the afternoon session, overtaking the nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS of Ortelli and Lieb. The two Team Maranello Concessionaires cars were fourth and fifth fastest.

First qualifying session : Konrad and EMKA Racing on provisional pole Qualifying for the seventh round of the FIA GT Championship got off to a rapid start in Anderstorp, with Walter Lechner Jr repeating his free practice feat and setting a lap time of 1:28.899, on just his second lap. No-one else was able to come near to the time set by the yellow Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7-R, with its nearest rival being the Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7-R. Tommy Erdos set a time of 1:29.757 towards the very end of the session, 0.858 seconds behind the Konrad car.

Matteo Bobbi was extremely pleased with third place on the provisional grid, for the nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello. "My main aim is the Championship, and as I am in front of my main rivals Fabrizio Gollin and Andrea Piccini, I am happy," the Italian said. The two Lister Racing Storms were fourth and fifth, with Andrea Piccini setting a time of 1:30.065, less than a tenth of a second ahead of his team-mate Jamie Campbell-Walter. There was a similar situation in the N-GT category, with the nr 61 EMKA Porsche of Tim Sugden and Emmanuel Collard setting a time of 1:33.083, nearly eight tenths faster than the second-fastest car, the nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport car of Stéphane Ortelli and Marc Lieb. The two Porsches led a group of four Ferrari 360 Modena cars, the fastest of which was the nr 52 JMB Racing Ferrari, driven in qualifying by Andrea Bertolini. The two Team Maranello Concessionaires cars were fourth and fifth overall, ahead of the MENX Ferrari of Pergl and Janis. The nr 51 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS failed to set a time, due to problems with the new engine installed overnight, which the team will replace in time for the afternoon session.

Second qualifying session : Lister and JMB Racing fastest, but overall result remains With temperatures relatively high, and the sun shining brightly, it was not expected that many drivers would improve on their morning times during the second 45-minute qualifying session at Anderstorp. However, in the early part of the session, Jamie Campbell-Walter set a lap of 1:30.067, improving on his morning time by nearly a tenth of a second. However, just two thousandths of a second slower than the best time set by his team-mate Andrea Piccini, the nr 14 Lister Storm remained in 5th position for tomorrow's grid. "Still, it's better than starting from the back, like in Spa," Campbell-Walter said. Jamie's time remained the fastest in the session. Another car to improve its time was the nr 19 Creation Autosportif Lister Storm of Jean-Marc Gounon and Paul Knapfield, which has been suffering from engine problems, but had a better run, setting the 7th best time in the second qualifying, but remaining 13th on tomorrow's starting grid.

However, the most significant improvement came from the nr 52 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena, with Italian driver Andrea Bertolini setting a lap of 1:33.199 to close in on the nr 61 EMKA Racing Porsche and take second place on the N-GT grid from the Freisinger Motorsport Porsche of Ortelli and Lieb. The second Freisinger Motorsport Porsche, driven by Longin and Gardel, set a time of 1:35.399 after missing the first session, placing them 9th in N-GT. Overall, the session saw the nr 9 JMB Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello of Peter and Babini set the second fastest time, with a lap of 1:30.856, with Andrea Piccini third in the nr 15 Lister Storm. The nr 5 Force One Festina Chrysler Viper GTS-R of Hezemans and Kumpen was fourth, with Cappellari and Gollin, the heaviest car this weekend with 75 kg of ballast, fifth. In N-GT, the nr 52 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena was fastest, ahead of the nr 88 TMC Ferrari of Jamie Davies and Darren Turner, with pole-sitters EMKA Racing third.

NOTES AND QUOTES

Walter Lechner Jr - nr 2 Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7-R : "I am pleased with this qualifying result - the lap was quite good, although it was the first timed lap and the tyres were not quite there yet. It could have been quicker, but not much. It's my first GT pole position, and I'm very happy with it. I'm not sure why I'm so much quicker than the others - and if I knew, I might not say, because then I could use it for the next race. I had my first race in the Championship here last year, with Toto Wolff, and we finished third in N-GT. I hope it's a good omen for the race tomorrow. We've had a lot of technical problems in the car, and I hope we've sorted them all out and will have a good race tomorrow."

Marco Zadra - nr 6 Creation Autosportif Lister Storm : "I have had a couple of spins today - first this morning at the end of the qualifying session, and then again this afternoon. It now appears that there is a clutch problem, which might have been the cause of the spins. But I am happy with my progress, as I am getting on the pace and the car is well balanced. I think it will be a beautiful race tomorrow, with good fighting as everyone is so close this weekend. It should be an exciting day for the spectators."

Thomas Erdos - nr 7 Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7-R : "This is the first time we have come to this circuit, so we have been learning it, and to be on the front row is excellent. We have made a number of changes to the car recently, and the hard work is beginning to pay off. The team is still very young and this is very much a learning year for us, but I think we are now beginning to get there, and I hope this is the first of many good results for us."

Mike Newton - nr 7 Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7-R : "We are very pleased with second place. We came here having done a lot of changes during the break, and although we were not able to test at all. We knew this was a risk, and we had some problems yesterday, but today we are getting the return for that work, and we are all very pleased that the strategy worked, and that it has given us a big step forward."

Magnus Wallinder - nr 11 Roos Optima Chrysler Viper : "We have had a problem with a wheel bearing at the rear, which meant we lost most of the free practice sessions. This also gave us a problem with the brakes. But the car now feels good, and we have to find a good basis for the race. We're hanging in there !"

Jamie Campbell-Walter - nr 14 Lister Storm : "I had another go at a qualifying time in the afternoon session, and came close, but not close enough. The car is good, but we lost a lot of time yesterday. Everything is OK now, it's a long race and we'll have to see what happens. At least 5th is better than 55th at Spa ! I think it will be a race of tyres tomorrow, and the best tyres will win. The long radius corners are limited by how much grip you have. "

Matteo Bobbi - nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello : "This result is really good considering the restrictors and the ballast we are carrying. The two Saleen cars in front of me, but they are no problem as far as the Championship is concerned, and the Lister Storms and Gollin are behind me, so I am really happy. I am quite confident for the race. I never really expected to be third. But there is no way we could go faster in the afternoon, as we used both sets of tyres, and the track is likely to be slower. Conditions were good for the engines this morning, when it was cool, and I am sure it will be very difficult to improve."

Stéphane Ortelli - nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS: "We have had a number of problems this weekend, although I do think this is due to the penalty weight, as we have made a number of changes in order to work around it. We were a bit surprised by the gap - we were not expecting to be the quickest, but we were not expecting to be that far back. But I think the set-up we have for the race is looking good, and we can fight for the podium."

Gabriele Gardel - nr 51 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS : "The team changed the engine in our car for qualifying, but they finished after the noise deadline, and could not test it. This morning, when they tried it, there was a problem, so we lost the whole session."

Andrea Bertolini - nr 52 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena : "The team has done very good work, and I am hopeful for the race tomorrow. The new gearbox and Marelli ignition systems are going well. Tomorrow, I think the race will be very difficult as the N-GT level is very high and every race, any one of four or five cars could win the race."

Jaroslav Janis - nr 57 MENX Ferrari 360 Modena : "It is going very well and I am really enjoying being back in the car. We kept the second new set of tyres for the race tomorrow, and ran the second qualifying session with full tanks, to practice for the race. But I really wish it would rain tomorrow - the conditions they had here last year would be excellent for us !"

Emmanuel Collard - nr 61 EMKA Racing Porsche 996 GT3-RS : "I hope the race will be fine, as we had technical problems in the last two rounds, with the gearbox. Now I hope everything will be OK for tomorrow. Last year was very different as it was raining hard. But the car is going well, we have a good set-up for the race, and my team-mate is very quick, so I am confident for tomorrow. I think the outcome will depend on making no mistakes and having a good pit-stop."

Kelvin Burt - nr 89 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 360 Modena : "The time was quite reasonable as the car is not that well balanced. We tried some changes but did not really get what we wanted. But we are all feeling confident and motivated, and we have got rid of the mechanical problems with the gearbox that were plaguing us in the previous rounds. I really like the circuit; it's not very grippy, but I like the layout, and the style of the corners; you can attack them."

-fia-

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Andrea Piccini , Fabrizio Gollin , Darren Turner , Emmanuel Collard , Jamie Davies , Stéphane Ortelli , Matteo Bobbi , Jamie Campbell-Walter , Marc Lieb , Mike Newton , Kelvin Burt , Thomas Erdos , Jaroslav Janis , Tim Sugden , Jean-Marc Gounon , Andrea Bertolini , Gabriele Gardel , Paul Knapfield , Toto Wolff