Silverstone: Saturday qualifying report

2005 FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP - Round 3 - Silverstone (Great Britain) - Qualifying After two extremely close qualifying sessions around the 3.62 km Silverstone international circuit, tomorrow's third round of the FIA GT Championship promises to be...

2005 FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP - Round 3 - Silverstone (Great Britain) - Qualifying

After two extremely close qualifying sessions around the 3.62 km Silverstone international circuit, tomorrow's third round of the FIA GT Championship promises to be a fascinating race. At one stage in qualifying, the top four cars were within one tenth of a second. The 500 km, three-hour race, which will see the historic RAC Tourist Trophy awarded to the overall winner, will be led off the grid by the two Aston Martin DBR9 cars, which have entered the Championship for the first time at Silverstone, and which are running as Manufacturer entries. Mike Rockenfeller will start on pole for the GT2 class, in the GruppeM Porsche, while Balfe Motorsport leads the G2 field.

DAVID BRABHAM ON POLE FOR TOURIST TROPHY

Australian driver David Brabham will try to go one better than his father, Jack, tomorrow, when he starts from pole position for the RAC Tourist Trophy. "It's one race he never won," David said afterwards.

With an amazing lap of 1:15.792, which he admitted was on the limit of both car and driver, he led an extremely close first qualifying session.

"Yesterday, obviously, we were learning the conditions. The car was very good in qualifying and I had a clean lap. It surprised me slightly how fast we went. The guys did a great job with the car. We did some aerodynamic changes and the improvements are coming together. We are very pleased. It is good to have Peter [Kox] second. It is a 1-2 team result. Obviously, to be here with Aston Martin, in a historic event, in Silverstone, means a great deal to me. In this type of racing, it is all about the car. With Aston Martin and Prodrive is just up the road, I am very pleased to be involved in this project".

Brabham and Turner will start alongside the second Aston Martin, the nr 29 car driven by Peter Kox and Pedro Lamy, both FIA GT regulars. Only four hundredths of a second separated the cars from third to sixth positions, with Bouchut, in the nr 17 Ferrari 550 Maranello, sixth on the grid, while setting a time of only 42 thousandths of a second slower than third-placed Vitaphone Maserati MC 12 of Fabio Babini.

FIRST FIA GT POLE FOR MIKE ROCKENFELLER

21-year-old German driver Mike Rockenfeller claimed his first FIA GT pole position today, when a lap of 1:20.572 placed the nr 66 Porsche 996 GT3-RSR ahead of the rest of the GT2 and G2 field. He will start from fifteenth position on the grid, alongside the team's second car, the nr 88 Porsche driven by Tim Sudgen and Emmanuel Collard.

"I did the time this morning with new tyres," Rockenfeller said. " I tried to save the second set of tyres for the race tomorrow. Unfortunately, the number 88 had technical problems in the first session. So I am not sure on the gap we have over the other cars. Overall, I am really happy. The team did a great job. We changed a lot of things in the second session, just to try, and I only drove half of the session as the car was not ready. We have a great race set-up and we are quite consistent, so I am looking forward to the race tomorrow. It is quite a short circuit and there are not so many long straights. It is difficult for GT1 cars to overtake us. We will try our best not to be in the way of the faster car but we also have our own race."

Third in GT2 went to the Team LNT TVR T400, driven by former British Formula 3 Champion Jonny Kane, who celebrates his birthday today. Fourth went to the Embassy Racing Porsche, with the GPC Ferrari 360 Modena of Luca Drudi and Gabrio Rosa fifth.

BALFE MOTORSPORT LEADS THREE-MOSLER G2 FIELD

For the second race in a row, the G2 class has three cars competing, but unlike Magny-Cours, there is an all-Mosler field, incidentally the biggest group of Mosler MT900R cars to racing in Europe in a single race. The nr 101 car, qualified by Shaun Balfe, was second-fastest in the GT2/G2 field in the first qualifying session, dropping behind the nr 88 car after the second session, just half a second behind the leading GruppeM Porsche.

"We were very pleased with the morning session," Shaun Balfe said. "We are a small team with a big heart. We have done a lot of development ourselves. During the course of the year, we will be trying all sorts of things. It is a big steep learning curve ! We were unfortunate in Magny-Cours due to the temperatures. We were not prepared for the effect that had on the car. We learnt from this and hopefully it won't happen again. We have been here [at the qualifying press conference] previously but it would be good to be here tomorrow ! We have had a lot of success with the Mosler in Britain and Spain in the last two years. We are hoping that people will see and believe that the Mosler can be a competitive GT2 car and a viable option against the Porsches".

The other two Mosler cars, the nr 102 driven by Phil Keen and Nigel Taylor, and the nr 104 shared by the Whights and Gavan Kershaw, start 21st and 23rd on the grid respectively.

-fia-

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers David Brabham , Emmanuel Collard , Pedro Lamy , Nigel Taylor , Jonny Kane , Luca Drudi , Shaun Balfe , Fabio Babini , Mike Rockenfeller , Gavan Kershaw , Phil Keen
Teams Team LNT