Istanbul: Qualifying report

GPC Sport and GruppeM on pole position for Istanbul two-hour race Andrea Piccini, at the wheel of the GPC Sport Ferrari 575 Maranello, claimed pole position for tomorrow's 8th round of the FIA GT Championship, right at the end of the first ...

GPC Sport and GruppeM on pole position for Istanbul two-hour race

Andrea Piccini, at the wheel of the GPC Sport Ferrari 575 Maranello, claimed pole position for tomorrow's 8th round of the FIA GT Championship, right at the end of the first qualifying practice session. This is the 6th different team, 5th different model of car and 6th different driver on pole this year, out of 8 rounds so far. This promises to be another exciting race, with a different strategy, as the race will last two hours, instead of the usual three-hour format. GPC Sport will share the front row with the nr 16 JMB Maserati of Philipp Peter, Christophe Pillon and local hero, Can Artam. They will be followed on the second row by the two Vitaphone Maserati cars of Babini/Biagi and Bartels/Scheider.

In GT2, Mike Rockenfeller claimed his second pole position of the season, at the wheel of the GruppeM Porsche 996 GT3 RSR he is sharing with Marc Lieb. They were 4 tenths of a second faster than their team mates in the nr 88 car, Emmanuel Collard and Tim Sugden. The Ebimotors Porsche of Luigi Moccia and Emanuele Busnelli will start from the third position in GT2 for the 5th time in the season, alongside the GPC Sport Ferrari 360 Modena of Stephane Lemeret and Marco Lambertini.

Weather

The weather was sunny and dry, with temperatures rising to 26 and humidity reaching 72%. The weather for tomorrow's race should remain dry but should also be warmer.

First pole position for GPC Sport

Andrea Piccini claimed pole position during the last two minutes of the first qualifying practice session, lapping the 5,3km circuit in 1.49.611. This is the Italian driver's first pole position since the FIA GT Championship Estoril round in 2002, when he was already sharing a Ferrari car with Jean-Denis Deletraz. "I feel really good today!", Andrea said afterwards. "It is good for all the team because this is a difficult season for us. But the car is now getting better and better, we have improved a lot since the last race. We also have to thank Pirelli for their new tyres, which are very efficient here. This pole position is good for the team, for Jean-Denis and for me; we are working hard. We'll decide our strategy tomorrow morning, we are waiting to see the temperature before making a decision."

Piccini was 8 hundredths of a second faster than Philipp Peter, who was the fastest man on the track for most of the morning session : ""It is very good to be on the front row. This morning, the track was improving, but I had to let my team mates practice; they do not know the car so they need to be in the car as much as possible. We were happy with my time, but G.P.C. surprised us at the end. We are happy for them, they did a great job. This morning, we had the new Pirelli tyres, they are really good and improved the car's behaviour. I'll take the start of the race, and then my team mates are going to do the rest of the job. We'll see how it goes : Can Artam wants to have a result in his home race."

The second row will be an all-Vitaphone one, as Fabio Babini set the third time and Timo Scheider the fourth one. "The time is OK", Babini said. "With 90 kg, it is quite difficult to improve, but it's not bad to be third on the grid. The car has been really good since yesterday and I love this track. It is fantastic to drive here."

Second GT2 pole for Rockenfeller in GruppeM Porsche

GT2 Championship co-leader, Mike Rockenfeller, set the fastest time of the day, placing him on GT2 pole for tomorrow's two-hour race. He was just four tenths of a second faster than his team mate Emmanuel Collard, in the second GruppeM car.

"At the beginning we were waiting to see what the 88 car would do", Rockenfeller said. "We thought that they would be quicker because we are 30 kg heavier, but in fact we were first in all the sessions so far this weekend. The car is good, and we are expecting to do a good race."

Collard explained : "Our car is oversteering too much, but during the second qualifying session we worked on the race set-up and we found a good compromise. So, we will see for the race, everything is possible."

Other podium finishes will be chased by the Italian duo of Ebimotors, third on the GT2 grid, who will aim at a second podium finish after Monza, and by the GPC Sport Ferrari 360 Modena, fourth fastest GT2 time of the day with Marco Lambertini and Stephane Lemeret.

First Qualifying Practice Session: Piccini and Rockenfeller claim provisional poles

At the beginning of the session, most of the competitors were waiting in the pits. For nearly 15 minutes, Philip Peter and Peter Kox were the only GT1 drivers on track. On his third flying lap, with a time of 1'49.967, Philip Peter was the first GT1 driver to go under 1'50. With a time of 1'51.966, Peter Kox was second in the MenX Ferrari 550 Maranello. The nr88 GruppeM Porsche driven by Emmanuel Collard was the first to set the fastest time in GT2.

After 15 minutes, nearly all the cars went out, while the leading nr16 JMB Maserati MC12 went back to the pits. Immediately, Andrea Piccini in the nr2 G.P.C Sport Ferrari 575 Maranello set the second-best time. Behind Philip Peter, the hierarchy continually changed, with a tough fight for the second position between Andrea Piccini and Timo Scheider. But nobody, with the exception of Philip Peter, went under the 1'50 barrier.

Christophe Bouchut, on the nr17 Russian Age Racing Ferrari, collided with the nr86 G.P.C. Sport Ferrrai 360 Modena. Both cars rejoined.

After 30 minutes, nr16 JMB Racing Maserati MC12 came back on track again. Philip Peter pushed hard and improved his time, with a lap on 1'49.696. At the end of the session, a few drivers improved their times. First, Andrea Piccini set a lap of 150.009, then Fabio Babini took third place. But two minutes before the chequered flag, Andrea Piccini, in the nr2 G.P.C Sport Ferrari 575 Maranello, claimed provisional pole position with a flying lap of 1'49.611. He was ahead of three Maserati MC12 cars : the nr16 JMB Racing and the nr10 and nr9 Vitaphone Racing Team. The nr17 Russian Age Ferrari was in fifth position, ahead of the nr11 Larbre Competition Ferrari. The Championship leaders in the nr15 JMB Maserati were only seventh due to understeering problems, as well as carrying the maximum handicap weight of 100kg in their car. In 8th position, Hezemans, Longin and Kumpen remained unhappy with their car and tried to find a solution by working on the set-up.

In GT2, provisional pole went to nr66 GruppeM Porsche driven by Mike Rockenfeller, ahead of the nr88 GruppeM Porsche of Emmanuel Collard. Emanuele Busnelli in the nr74 Ebimotors was third. Despite its accident with the Russian Age Ferrari, the nr86 G.P.C Sport Ferrari 360 Modena set the fourth time of the session.

Second Qualifying Practice Session : GLPK fastest but GPC retain pole position

Whereas many of the competitors thought that the track would be faster in the afternoon, only three cars improved their times. At the beginning of the session, a lot of cars spun. That was the case of the nr 16 JMB Maserati, the nr88 GruppeM Porsche, the nr 17 Russian Age Ferrari, the nr 25 MenX Ferrari and the nr 69 Proton Competition Porsche, but all the cars rejoined without any damage.

The nr5 Konrad Motorsport Saleen was the first car to improve, with a lap of 1'51.335 which brought it up to 9th position.

As the track was definitely slower, the teams chose to work on their race set-up. At the end of the session, Mike Hezemans on the nr6 GLPK Racing Corvette improved his time. With the fastest time of the session, a lap of 1'50.519, Mike Hezemans managed to set the 6th time in the combined classification.

"We completely changed the car between the two sessions", Hezemans said. "It is much better like that, and we improved our position on the grid, so it's OK. When the weather is hot, it is better for our car. We still have a new set of tyres for the race. When the track is clean, our car is sliding too much, but when there is rubbish on the track, the car is good. So for tomorrow we are expecting hot weather and dirty track. I hope they are not going to clean the track during the night."

In GT2, the nr66 Gruppe M Porsche was fastest again, just ahead of its sister car.

-www.fiagt.com

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Andrea Piccini , Emmanuel Collard , Timo Scheider , Peter Kox , Jean-Denis Deletraz , Christophe Pillon , Mike Hezemans , Christophe Bouchut , Luigi Moccia , Marc Lieb , Tim Sugden , Fabio Babini , Can Artam , Mike Rockenfeller , Stéphane Lemeret , Emanuele Busnelli , Philipp Peter , Philip Peter
Teams Proton Competition