Imola: Qualifying report

WEATHER Extremely hot and humid, with temperatures over 35°C. The weather is set to remain like this for tomorrow. FIFTH POLE POSITION FOR FABRIZIO GOLLIN Despite having 100 kg penalty weight on board the nr 2 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550...

WEATHER
Extremely hot and humid, with temperatures over 35°C. The weather is set to remain like this for tomorrow.

FIFTH POLE POSITION FOR FABRIZIO GOLLIN

Despite having 100 kg penalty weight on board the nr 2 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello, Fabrizio Gollin claimed pole position for the eighth round of the FIA GT Championship. This is his second consecutive pole position, and the fifth in his FIA GT career. Gollin and his team-mate Luca Cappellari, who have led the Championship since the first round in Monza, will therefore take the start of Sunday's 500 km race, which promises to be extremely hot - both on the track and inside the cars, where temperatures around 50° are making life difficult for the drivers. "We managed to find a good set-up yesterday," Fabrizio explained. "On this track, you can cut the corners really well. This morning, I could do two very good lap times. I was lucky, because I found a clean lap. Now I hope for tomorrow. I know it will be difficult to finish the race in this position with the weight we are carrying."

Gollin set his time of 1:45.593 early in the first qualifying session, which proved to be one of the closest on record. The top three - Gollin, second placed Walter Lechner Jr in the nr 4 Konrad Saleen and Uwe Alzen in the nr 5 Vitaphone Saleen - were separated by just one tenth of a second, while the nr 1 BMS Ferrari of Bobbi and Gardel was six tenths behind the leader in fourth, and the nr 28 Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen was an excellent fifth, Paolo Ruberti setting a time just seven tenths slower than Gollin. This is the order they will start on tomorrow's grid, the afternoon session having been slower. The best of the Ferrari 575 M Maranello cars was the nr13, in seventh place, while the two Maserati MC 12 cars, which were mainly working towards the race, qualified eighth and twelfth. As for the DAMS Lamborghini Diablo, they were 18th and 20th in GT, the team steadily improving the new cars.

PESCATORI PUTS GPC ON N-GT POLE

Christian Pescatori took a comfortable pole position in the N-GT class, his nr 62 GPC Giesse Squadra Corse Ferrari 360 Modena setting a lap of 1:50.544, over two seconds ahead of the second-placed car, the nr 50 Freisinger Yukos Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS, in which Stephane Ortelli set a time of 1:52.628 in the faster morning session. "The car has been very good all weekend. It's very fast, and also consistent for the race. But it won't be easy tomorrow. The conditions might be a problem. It's very hot, and that will make the race difficult,"

Pescatori admitted. Third place on the grid for tomorrow's long, hot race went to a newcomer to the Championship, the nr 87 Mik Corse Ferrari 360 Modena. Young Italian Alex Piccolo set a time of 1:52.851, two hundreds of a second faster than the nr 77 Freisinger Porsche of Alexei Vasiliev and Jörg Bergmeister.

FIRST QUALIFYING : GOLLIN AND PESCATORI ON PROVISIONAL POLE

Provisional pole initially went to Matteo Bobbi, with a lap of 1:46.251 in the nr 1 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari; he was followed by Paolo Ruberti in the nr 28 Graham Nash Motorsport car, who had set a time of 1:46.336. Ten minutes into the session, however, Fabrizio Gollin put in a lap of 1:45.593 to grab pole, and despite the attempts of the Saleen S7 cars, remained on pole position until the end of the 45-minute session. Lechner was the next to improve, taking second with a lap of 1:46.695, which he then improved to 1:45.676, but he still remained 83 hundreths of a second outside pole.

After 15 minutes, the nr 5 Vitaphone Saleen joined the battle, claiming third position. Fifteen minutes later, Alzen improved again, to within one tenth of Gollin ,making this session one of the closest ever.

In N-GT, Pescatori was fastest from early on in the session, with a best lap of 1:50.544 and his pole position was never under threat. He was followed by the nr 50 Freisigner Porsche, with the nr 59 Jens Petersen Porsche third fastest in the early part of the session. Although the top two remained the same for the rest of the 45 minutes, first the nr 77 Freisinger Yukos Porsche, driven by Alex Bergmeister, took third on the provisional N-GT grid, and then Alex Piccolo, in the nr 87 Mik Corse Ferrari, moved up to third. The nr 73 Cirtek Motorsport had problems with the clutch and brake head cylinder, and missed much of the session, while the nr 99 was not able to take part, after the damage during yesterday's free practice.

The nr 57 Vonka Racing car had times disallowed due to ride-height problems, while the nr 26 DAMS Murciélago also lost times due to problems with the front spoiler.

SECOND QUALIFYING : VITAPHONE LEADS SLOWER SESSION

The afternoon session was extremely hot, and significantly slower than the morning, meaning that there were very few improvements in the overall times. With air temperatures at 35° and the track 47°, the fastest time was set by the nr 5 Vitaphone Saleen, with a lap of 1:48.127. The session was once again extremely close, with the top seven cars within one second; this included two Saleen S7, three Ferrari 575 M Maranello, one Ferrari 550 and a Maserati MC 12. The only car to improve its time was the nr 11 GPC Ferrari 575 M Maranello, which improved by 32 hundredths of a second, but did not change its 17th position on the grid.

The best time in N-GT was set by the nr 99 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche, which the team had repaired after the serious crash involving Sascha Maassen yesterday. The car set a fastest time of 1:52.911, ahead of the nr 77 Freisinger Porsche and the nr 50 Freisinger Yukos car, making a Porsche whitewash for the first time this weekend. Overall, this places the nr 99 fifth in N-GT for tomorrow's race, ahead of the nr 59 Jens Petersen Porsche.

The nr 73 Cirtek car also had a better session, setting a qualifying time which would have placed it 28th on the grid, although it will have to start from the back due to the new engine that was fitted yesterday.

A number of cars had minor incidents or landed in the gravel, including a spin for the nr 4 Konrad Saleen, and a trip into the gravel for the nr 62 Ferrari; the nr 35 Scuderia Veregra also stopped by the side of the road with a broken joint. The nr 99 car lost its times from early in the session due to failing the ride height, while the nr 24 DAMS Lamborghini lost some of its first times due to a non-complying front spoiler. The same problem also saw the nr 10 Chrysler Viper lose its times, including its best lap of 1:47.217, initially the best time of the session.

-fia-

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Fabrizio Gollin , Christian Pescatori , Stéphane Ortelli , Sascha Maassen , Uwe Alzen , Jörg Bergmeister , Matteo Bobbi , Jens Petersen , Paolo Ruberti
Teams DAMS