Pergusa: Qualifying report

WEATHER Today's weather in Sicily has been hot and sunny, with temperatures rising steadily. When the cars went out for the second session, the air temperature was 28°Celcius, with the track at 37°Celcius. GOUNON TAKES POLE FOR KONRAD ...

WEATHER
Today's weather in Sicily has been hot and sunny, with temperatures rising steadily. When the cars went out for the second session, the air temperature was 28°Celcius, with the track at 37°Celcius.

GOUNON TAKES POLE FOR KONRAD MOTORSPORT

Frenchman Jean-Marc Gounon, in his second race for Konrad Motorsport, took pole position for tomorrow's 500 km race, giving Saleen its first-ever FIA GT Championship pole. The French driver set a lap of 1:34.939, which he described as "nearly perfect", during the faster first session. "I am very happy as I only discovered the car at Magny-Cours, and there are three drivers, so I have not had much time to get used to it," he said. On tomorrow's grid, he will be alongside the nr 22 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello, with which he last set pole position, at Donington last year. Third place went to the nr 7 Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7-R, which missed the second session after a heavy crash in the morning, and has been withdrawn from the race.

LAST MINUTE POLE FOR BERTOLINI

Andrea Bertolini claimed pole position in the N-GT category for tomorrow's race, with a last-minute improvement in the second qualifying session. The Italian driver, at the wheel of the nr 52 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena, had been lying second after the first session, with a lap of 1:39.747, and he was one of the rare drivers to improve during the second session, with a time of 1:39.203. "The tyres are better here this year than last year," he said, his car having also set pole position in the 2002 Pergusa round. He will be followed by the two Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 360 Modena cars tomorrow, with Jamie Davies placing the nr 88 car second, ahead of his team-mate Darren Turner in the nr 89 car.

FIRST QUALIFYING SESSION
KONRAD MOTORSPORT FASTEST IN GT, TMC ONE-TWO IN N-GT

Jean-Marc Gounon, in the nr 2 Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7-R, set provisional pole in the first qualifying session. This is the first time a Saleen S7-R, which have joined the Championship this season, has been on provisional pole. He was 0.251 seconds faster than 2002 pole-sitter Fabrizio Gollin, now driving the nr 22 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello, with 60 kg penalty weight. Gollin only did four laps, saving a new set of tyres either to start the race, or to use if the afternoon session proved to be faster.

Third fastest was the nr 7 Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7-R, of Tommy Erdos and Mike Newton. However, just after setting his time o f 1:35.210, the Brazilian driver jumped over a kerb on his slowing-down lap, bouncing hard and hitting the tyre barriers. The car is badly damaged, and will not take part in tomorrow's race. This accident brought out the red flags, and the session was halted for around 20 minutes. Anthony Kumpen was fourth fastest, happy with the time he set on a track he likes, with his time a tenth of a second slower than Jamie Campbell-Walter in the nr 14 Lister. The nr 15 Lister was down in 27th place, Deletraz and Piccini frustrated by running in a new engine after their problems yesterday.

In N-GT, Jamie Davies set the fastest time in the nr 88 Team Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 360 Modena. His time, 1:39.724, was significantly faster than the best N-GT time in 2002, which was of 1:42.587, for the Bertolini/Pescatori JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena. Bertolini was second fastest this morning, with a time 1:39.747 set early in the session; his team-mate Fabrizio De Simone was only fractionally slower later in the session. The second TMC car of Burt and Turner was third. The EMKA Racing car was once more the fastest of the Porsches, with a puzzled Stephane Ortelli fifth, struggling to find the speed shown by his car in yesterday's free practice.

SECOND QUALIFYING SESSION
BMS SCUDERIA ITALIA SETS BEST GT TIME, WHILE JMB RACING CLAIMS POLE

The second 45-minute session was red-flagged early on when the nr 4 Force One Festina Chrysler Viper spun off at one of the chicanes after a minor collision with the nr 14 Lister. Nine minutes were lost. There were few improvements in the session, with track temperatures being higher than in the morning. The nr 11 Roos-Optima Racing Team was one of the few to go faster, with a time of 1:39.712 improving their grid position by one place.

The nr 21 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello of Calderari, Bryner and Livio, lost its bonnet and some side bodywork while driving down one of the straights. The car made its way back to the pits. The car set the fastest time in the session - 1:36.043 - but did not improve on their eighth place.

The nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS of Ortelli and Lieb improved mid-way through the session, a time of 1:40. 152 placing them fourth in N-GT. With nine minutes of the session remaining, the nr 15 Lister Storm of Deletraz and Piccini set a time of 1:38.654, improving to 15th overall. The nr 23 stopped on the side of the track, with an engine problem.

The fastest car of the day, the nr 2 Konrad Saleen lost a wheel towards the end of the session, pulling up alongside the track, with Toni Seiler at the wheel.

With less than a minute to go, Bertolini claimed pole position, with a lap of 1:39.203, in the nr 52 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena.

Overall, the nr 21 BMS car set the best time, ahead of the nr 5 Force One Chrysler Viper of Hezemans and Kumpen, with the nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello of Biagi and Bobbi third fastest, none of which improved their grid positions. In N-GT, the nr 52 JMB Racing car was fastest, ahead of the nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3-RS, with the nr 88 TMC Ferrari third.

-fia-

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Fabrizio Gollin , Darren Turner , Jamie Davies , Jamie Campbell-Walter , Anthony Kumpen , Toni Seiler , Mike Newton , Jean-Marc Gounon , Andrea Bertolini