Magny-Cours: Qualifying report

Lechner Jr and Pescatori Take Pole in Magny-Cours Weather -- Cool temperatures but bright sunshine greeted the teams and drivers as they returned to the Magny-Cours circuit on Saturday morning. The weather remained bright and sunny all ...

Lechner Jr and Pescatori Take Pole in Magny-Cours

Weather --
Cool temperatures but bright sunshine greeted the teams and drivers as they returned to the Magny-Cours circuit on Saturday morning. The weather remained bright and sunny all day.

Third pole position for Walter Lechner Jr 22-year old Austrian driver Walter Lechner Jr took his third FIA GT pole position in Magny-Cours today, following on from Anderstorp and Oschersleben last year. Driving the nr 4 Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7, he set a time of 1:36.174 during the first qualifying session, nearly a second faster than the second-placed car, the nr 5 Vitaphone Saleen S7 driven by Michael Bartels and Uwe Alzen. "I'm very happy to be in front today," Walter said.

"Our car has been very good all the time. I have to thank Pirelli for the great work they've been doing. The new tyre compound is really fantastic."

Third place on the starting grid for tomorrow went to Fabrizio Gollin, in the nr 2 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello, despite carrying 80 kg after two wins so far this season. The leading nr 17 JMB Racing Ferrari 575 Maranello was fourth, with reigning Champion Matteo Bobbi fifth in the nr 1 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello, while Jamie Campbell-Walter took sixth for the Creation Autosportif Lister Storm - the team's best qualifying performance this season.

First Ferrari N-GT pole for Christian Pescatori

After two Porsche poles and wins, Ferrari claimed its first N-GT pole of the season today, with Christian Pescatori leading an extremely close group of cars in the heated battle for the category lead. The Italian set a time of 1:41.630, just under a tenth of a second faster than the nr 99 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS of Lucas Luhr, and two tenths faster than the nr 50 Freisinger Yukos Motorsport Porsche, driven by Stéphane Ortelli and Emmanuel Collard. "It's our first pole position for this year, so I'm very happy for my mechanics and Pirelli," Pescatori explained. Fourth place went to Fomenko and Vasiliev, in the nr 77 Freisinger Yukos car, followed by the AB Motorsport and Proton Porsches.

First Qualifying Session: Lechner leads the field; Pescatori wins N-GT battle

Walter Lechner Jr, behind the wheel of the nr 4 Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7, set a stunning time of 1:36.174 during the first qualifying session, leading the field by over a second. "I was lucky to find a clear lap just when my tyres were up to the right temperature," the young Austrian driver said afterwards. "But this time, unlike Valencia, I have another set of tyres for the second qualifying session, in case anyone goes faster than me."

The first driver to go under the 1:40 mark in qualifying was the RML Saleen, of Chris Goodwin and Miguel Ramos, with the nr 11 GPC Giesse and the nr 17 JMB Racing Ferrari 575 M Maranello cars bringing the fastest times down to 1:39.034 and 1:37.472 respectively. Twelve minutes into the session, the nr 4 Konrad Saleen took provisional pole with a lap of 1:37.114, improving on its next lap to 1:36.174, which was at that point 1.5 seconds faster than the second-placed car, the nr 17 JMB Ferrari driven by Wendlinger, Wolff and Robert Lechner. 30 minutes into the session, the nr 2 BMS Ferrari moved up to second place, despite carrying 80 kg penalty weight this weekend. During the final 15 minutes, the nr 5 Vitaphone Saleen began its charge, improving first to fourth, and then to second with a lap of 1:36.936, the only other car to go below the 1:37 barrier. However, the team's time was later removed by the Stewards, due to the non-compliance of the rear wing.

Losing all their times until 11:06, the car was eventually classified 6th overall in the first qualifying session. By the end of the forty-five minutes, the nr 4 Konrad Saleen was followed by the nr 2 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari and the nr 17 JMB Racing Ferrari 575 M Maranello, with the nr 1 BMS Ferrari of Bobbi and Gardel fourth and the nr 27 Creation Autosportif Lister fifth.

In the N-GT category, the nr 62 GPC Giesse Ferrari 360 Modena was fast from early in the session, with Christian Pescatori setting a time of 1:41.920 on his second lap, improving to 1:41.630 on his third, which proved to be unbeatable. At that stage, the Ferrari was followed by the nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche, with the nr 99 car improving later in the session. After setting a time of 1:41.720 on its second lap, the car shared by Maassen and Luhr moved into second place overall, demoting Ortelli's car to third. However, all three cars were separated by just two tenths of a second.

Second Qualifying

The second qualifying was generally slower than the morning session, and the main interest was the recovery of the nr 5 Vitaphone Saleen S7, with Michael Bartels regaining the second place he had lost due to a problem with the rear wing of the car in the morning. Fastest on the track from early in the session, he was the first to improve his time, setting first a lap of 1:37.729 to go fifth, and then, with 13 minutes of the session remaining, a time of 1:37.199 to take second. The nr 17 JMB Racing Ferrari 575 M of Wendlinger, Wolff and Robert Lechner was second fastest in the session, followed by the nr 4 Konrad Motorsport Saleen. The nr 11 GPC Giesse Ferrari set the fourth fastest time, with the nr 8 RML Saleen fifth. In N-GT, the nr 99 Freisinger Porsche of Maassen and Luhr set the best time, but was nearly two seconds slower than the times set in the morning. Ortelli and Collard in the nr 50 Freisinger Yukos Porsche were second, with the eventual pole setter Pescatori third. The nr 27 Lister only completed four laps during the session, Jamie Derbyshire going into the gravel.

Hillebrand pulls out of Magny-Cours event 22-year old Val Hillebrand, who joined Zwaan's Racing at the previous round, has pulled out of the Magny-Cours event after the sudden death of his father yesterday. "We fully support Val's decision not to race this weekend," team principal Arjan van de Zwaan explained. "In the short time that Val has been with Zwaan's GTR Racing, he has really blended with the team. His youthful enthusiasm and driving are catching, and we are all looking forward to having Val back with the team when he is ready."

We would all like to offer out deepest sympathy to Val and his family at this difficult time.

-fia-

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Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Fabrizio Gollin , Christian Pescatori , Emmanuel Collard , Chris Goodwin , Stéphane Ortelli , Lucas Luhr , Uwe Alzen , Matteo Bobbi , Jamie Campbell-Walter , Val Hillebrand , Jamie Derbyshire , Miguel Ramos , Robert Lechner