FIA GT Championship 15 - 17 May 1998 Silverstone Round Saturday 16 May 1998 - 1st Qualifying Practice Session _________________________________________________________________ Weather ...
FIA GT Championship 15 - 17 May 1998 Silverstone Round Saturday 16 May 1998 - 1st Qualifying Practice Session _________________________________________________________________ Weather The sun is shining once more at Silverstone, with perfect conditions for a good day's qualifying. First Qualifying Session : Panoz chasing Porsche As in yesterday's free practice, a factory-entered Porsche was fastest. However, this time, it was the #7 Porsche, driven by Allan McNish, which set the fastest time of the session, with a lap of 1:40.361. The DAMS Panoz, in the hands of David Brabham, was second fastest. I thought we'd be fast, but I'm surprised to be so little behind - only two tenths, the Australian driver said. It'll be tough to stay there, but I think 3rd is quite possible. We're going well against the might of Porsche and Mercedes. We've improved the car since yesterday - it was virtually undriveable at the start - and I think we can improve it again for this afternoon. They were followed by the Porsche 911 '98 cars of Bartels and Alzen, with Schneider and Webber leading a group of Mercedes CLK-GTRs in fifth place. Both Bitters at last Both Bitter cars took to the track in this session, with the #9 car setting a time which placed it between the leading GT2 Vipers. The #10 car was seen for the first time, setting a time of 2:07.446 before spinning at the entrance to Becketts. The car stopped at the side of the track and was pushed away by marshals. GT2 : Vipers dominate Beretta and Lamy, driving the #51 Team Oreca Viper, are on the provisional GT2 pole for Sunday's British Empire Trophy race. They are followed by their team-mates, Wendlinger and Bell. The Roock Porsches, which were extremely fast yesterday, could not repeat their free practice performance, and were third and fourth, with Ortelli the fastest Porsche GT2 driver. The Marcos LM600, driven by Euser, Becker and Vann, had some problems in the session, with a minor fire, caused most probably by electrical problems. They hope to improve on their sixth GT2 place in the afternoon session, which should be cooler. Minor Problems for Cirtek We have a minor problem with low oil pressure, team owner and driver Rob Schirle said, explaining the Cirtek Ford Saleen Mustang's non-appearance in the first session. We think it's due to something that happened in the Le Mans accident. We are trying to get to the root of the problem, and preferred to work on it. This afternoon should be a good time to qualify - we think we can do a 1:53, and are aiming for the top six. Mini-Interview : Uwe Alzen (Porsche AG) This is my first full season in the series. Last year I drove two races in GT2, with Roock Racing, in the USA. This is a complete season for me, and I'm absolutely happy.
Do you like car ?
Absolutely. It's a very good car, and I hope we have a little bit of luck on the weekend here at Silverstone, at to win the first race for Porsche.
Are the Oschersleben problems solved ?
I hope so. I have a good feeling for the weekend. It's a nice track, a high speed circuit, and I like it.
What about the German Supertouring Championship ?
Yes, I am driving for Opel, doing the complete season. The cars are very different, in the horsepower, the steering, the gearbox - completely different. It's not so easy to change between them. I have a lot of days testing, and press conferences and so on. I have a lot of work in front of me and also behind me.
Which do you prefer ?
I like cars with a lot of horsepower, for sure. But the STW is a nice series, with 15 cars within one second, the field is very close and you have big fights. Here we have two companies, Porsche and Mercedes. We need some more cars. But the series is good, and the car, fantastic! Mini-Interview : Pedro Lamy (Viper Team Oreca) Last year I did some races in GT1, just a few races, and this year GT2. I like this category, I like these kinds of races. The car I'm driving in GT2 is nice. It has a nice engine, strong, and it's nice to drive. The car is different - difficult to drive, but nice.
What about traffic during the race ?
It's sometimes difficult. You have to be careful not to disturb, not to have problems on the track with the GT1. You have to be careful with the front and with the rear. I think that with more races I'll get used to it. For the first race, I was always worried, but it's coming better and better each time I go to the track.
The Viper has been dominant
For the first race, yes. We'll see now. I think the Porsche will be a strong competition. We'll see during the race
What about the track ?
I raced here quite a few times, but I don't have very good memories here. I had my big accident in Formula One testing here, when the rear wing broke. But I don't think about it Final Word We'll see if I can go one more ! David Brabham, provisionally second on the grid in the Panoz.