Hungaroring: Qualifying report

For round eight, the FIA GT Championship has returned to Budapest and the Hungaroring, a Formula One circuit which hosted four rounds of the FIA GT between 1998 and 2001. With everything still to play for, the competition between the teams and ...

For round eight, the FIA GT Championship has returned to Budapest and the Hungaroring, a Formula One circuit which hosted four rounds of the FIA GT between 1998 and 2001. With everything still to play for, the competition between the teams and drivers is closer than ever. Victory for Race Alliance in Italy meant that four manufacturers have been victorious this year, with Aston Martin following on from Maserati, Saleen and Corvette. In GT2, Porsche broke its 2006 duck, with Ebimotors claiming its first class win.

In bright sunshine at the Hungaroring, Jarek Janis claimed his third pole of the season in the nr 9 Zakspeed Saleen S7, qualifying ahead of Fabio Babini in the nr 23 Aston Martin Racing BMS DBR9, in its best result of the season, and Andrea Bertolini in the Championship-leading Vitaphone Maserati MC 12. The top five, including four different makes, were separated by just 0.99 of a second. In GT2, Scuderia Ecosse's Andrew Kirkaldy claimed his seventh pole of 2006 -- a new FIA GT record in terms of poles per season. He will start ahead of Mika Salo in the nr 59 AF Corse, with Tim Mullen third in the second Scuderia Ecosse car. Once again Ferrari cars were in the top five positions.


Jarek Janis placed the nr 9 Zakspeed Saleen on pole position for the third time this season, using what has now become his usual technique: waiting in the pits, then claiming pole with on his first or second flying lap. The young Czech driver set a best lap of 1:42.034, which was slower than the best free practice time, set in the cooler morning temperatures. "The team chose to keep me in pits for a long time... they put pressure on me, they told me to stay in, and I could see all the times on the screen before going on track. At the end I have to thank them, because it worked well," he said afterwards.

He will start alongside Fabio Babini in the nr 23 Aston Martin Racing BMS DBR9, after the team's best qualifying performance of the season. Third went to Andrea Bertolini in the nr 1 Vitaphone Maserati, despite the significant penalty weight carried by the car.

Fourth place went to the nr 4 GLPK Carsport Corvette C6, which had been so fast in this morning's free practice, with a lap of 1:42.872, just eight tenths away from pole. Deletraz and Piccini were fifth in the nr 5 Phoenix Aston Martin DBR9, ahead of the second Aston Martin DBR9 car. The Racing Lamborghini Murcielago was a fine seventh, only 1.3 seconds behind the leading Saleen, and ahead of the nr 2 Maserati and the nr 33 Race Alliance Aston Martin. The nr 11 Balfe Saleen was tenth, the team having made progress this weekend.


In GT2, Andrew Kirkaldy maintained Scuderia Ecosse's 100% pole record, with his seventh pole position and his sixth in a row, with a time of 1:46.774 This is a new record for the FIA GT Championship, as until now, no-one had managed to set more than six poles in a season. However, Kirkaldy's session finished in the barriers after a spin for the nr 62 Ferrari. "It is great to be on pole position once again," he said. "We did not have a result in Mugello, so we lost weight, which is always good for qualifying. Unfortunately I went off at the end of qualifying, and the car is damaged. Not too badly, but it is always a shame to crash the car, especially when you are on pole position."

Starting from 11th position on the grid, he will have Mika Salo alongside him in the nr 59 AF Corse Ferrari 430 GT2, with Tim Mullen qualifying the second Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari third. Jaime Melo, in the second AF Corse car, carrying the maximum penalty weight, was fourth, ahead of Tim Sugden in the nr 55 JMB GruppeM Ferrari. When the flag was shown, Stephane Daoudi had placed the nr 56 JMB Ferrari in sixth position, but the car lost its best time due to failing to stop for scrutineering. This promoted the leading Porsche, the nr 75 Ebimotors car of Riccitelli and Alzen, to sixth, ahead of the team's second car, and the nr 66 Felbermayr Proton Porsche, qualified by Horst Felbermayr Jr.


With two Aston Martin DBRS9 cars running in the G3 category this weekend, Toni Seiler set the best time in the nr 133 BMS Scuderia Italia car. His lap of 1:52.792 placed his 19th on the grid for Sunday's race, ahead of five of the GT2 cars. "The team has chosen a very good set-up for today, but also for the race," the Swiss driver explained. "I'm happy with my time, and also happy to be faster than the other BMS Aston Martin DBRS9. We had to work to adapt the Pirelli tyres to our car, because we are usually using Michelin tyres in GT3, which are quite different." Seiler is racing with his regular FIA GT3 European Championship team-mate, Franco Groppi.


A close and exciting session saw Peter take provisional pole early on in the nr 33 Aston Martin DBR9. His time was supplanted by Davies, in the nr 2 Maserati, who in turn was overtaken by Kumpen in the nr 4 Corvette, with a time of 1:43.039, significantly slower than his morning time. Five minutes into the session, Piccini took provisional pole, but Kumpen regained the lead a minute later. Christophe Bouchut put the Lamborghini up into fourth position. At this stage, Melo was leading Sugden and Daoudi in GT2, with the Scuderia Ecosse cars not having set a time. But Andrew Kirkaldy set provisional GT2 pole with his first real flying lap.

Twelve minutes into the session, Fabio Babini set provisional pole in the nr 23 Aston Martin DBR9, with Bertolini moving up to second in the nr 1 Maserati. Janis was on his second flying lap, and set a time of 1:42.034, which no-one could beat, and which gave him his third pole of the season. Mika Salo moved up to second in GT2, with his lap of 1:47.198 still four tenths slower than Kirkaldy. With two minutes to go, Babini set the fastest first sector time, and Bertolini improved, but no-one could catch Janis. The top five were separated by less than one second. With a minute to go, Kirkaldy spun and hit the barriers, but the chequered flag fell and he retained pole.

Tomorrow's 500 km, three-hour race will start at 13:30.

-credit: fia

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Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Mika Salo , Jaime Melo , Toni Seiler , Christophe Bouchut , Tim Sugden , Fabio Babini , Andrea Bertolini , Tim Mullen , Andrew Kirkaldy , Horst Felbermayr Jr. , Franco Groppi , Jarek Janis
Teams Aston Martin Racing , AF Corse , Team Zakspeed