BMS SCUDERIA ITALIA FIRST AND THIRD The two BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello cars qualified in the top three during the Super Pole qualifying session, Andrea Piccini scoring his second pole position of the year in the nr 23 car.
BMS SCUDERIA ITALIA FIRST AND THIRD
The two BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello cars qualified in the top three during the Super Pole qualifying session, Andrea Piccini scoring his second pole position of the year in the nr 23 car. The Italian set a time of 2:16.393s, nearly half a second faster than the nr 4 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper of Fabrizio Gollin. Dutchman Peter Kox was third fastest in the second BMS Ferrari 550 Maranello, 1.5s slower than his team-mate. His car is using a new power steering system, which the team is debuting this weekend.
Jamie Campbell-Walter was fourth fastest in the nr 14 Lister Storm Racing Lister Storm. The Briton was fastest during the opening sector of the lap, but slowed over the second half in the car that he shares with Andy Wallace, Eric van de Poele and Nicolaus Springer. Christophe Bouchut was fifth fastest in the nr 1 Larbre Competition Chrysler Viper GTS-R, after taken part in the Super Pole session with old tyres and not challenging for pole position.
ORTELLI TAKES N-GT POLE FOR FREISINGER
Stephane Ortelli took N-GT pole position for the seventh round of the FIA GT Championship at Spa, driving the nr 54 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3R. The Frenchman set a time of 2:24.380s to take pole position from the nr 50 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena of Christian Pescatori. Bert Longin was third fastest in the second Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3R that he shares with Marc Lieb, Georges Forgeois and Andre Lotterer.
The nr 51 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena, driven during the Super Pole session by Iradj Alexander, was disqualified for failing a ride-height check. The same fate befell the nr 50 Ferrari of Pescatori, Andrea Montermini, Andrea Bertolini and Andrea Garbagnati during the second qualifying session on Thursday night. The car lost some of its lap times, but not its fastest meaning that it was still eligible for Super Pole.
SECOND QUALIFYING -- LISTER LEADS THE PACK
The FIA GT Championship staged a night-time qualifying session on Thursday evening for the Spa 24 hours. The session gave teams the chance to prepare their cars for night driving at speed, and gives the drivers the opportunity to practice around the challenging circuit with restricted visibility. Unfortunately, the Belgian weather played its part with a heavy shower of rain, giving teams their second taste of wet running. The nr 14 Lister Storm Racing Lister Storm of Campbell-Walter, van de Poele, Wallace and Springer was fastest, a tenth of a second faster than the nr 23 Ferrari 550 Maranello of Deletraz, Piccini, Bryner and Marco Zadra. The second Ferrari was third fastest, followed by six Chrysler Vipers.
The nr 54 Freisinger Porsche of Ortelli, Collard and Dumas headed the N-GTs six tenths of a second faster than the nr 50 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena. The second Freisinger Porsche was third fastest in the hands of Longin, Lieb, Forgeouis and Lotterer while the nr 77 RWS Porsche of Garcia, Vasiliev, Villarroel and Fomenko was fourth.
THIRD QUALIFYING SESSION -- BELMONDO FASTEST
The nr 11 Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper GTS-R of Paul Belmondo, Ryo Fukuda and Claude-Yves Gosselin were the fastest of the non-Super Pole contenders, having set a time of 2:19.893s during the first qualifying session on Thursday. They will be joined on the fourth row by their team-mates Fabio Babini, Marc Duez and Boris Derichebourg who had their vibration problem, that affected their performance on Thursday, traced to a faulty front damper.
Kurt Mollekens will line up on the seventh row of the grid with his Porsche 996 GT2 that he shares with Markus Paltalla and Eric Geboers. The Porsche did not take part in the final qualifying session, nor did the nr 5 Force One Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello of Philippe Alliot, David Hallyday, Francois Jacobowski and Vittorio Zoboli.
The nr 3 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R of Mike Hezemans, Anthony Kumpen and Thierry Tassin is still leaking oil, and the team has not traced the problem. "We have changed the transmission and the fuel system but it is still leaking," said Kumpen. "It is not the engine, we are leaving that in there, but maybe we will have to keep filling the car up with oil over the 24 hours."
The nr 63 System Force Porsche 996 GT3R of Phil Bastiaans, Peter van Merksteijn and Stefan Vancampenhoudt set fastest N-GT time in the third and final session, moving them up to seventh fastest in the class, behind the N-GT Super Pole runners. That car had suffered gearbox problems during the first qualifying session, when most teams set their fastest time, and was relying on its wet, night qualifying time for its grid position. The nr 64 Cirtek Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3R of Vic Rice, Manfred Jurasz, Julien Piguet and Stephane Daoudi dropped to second fastest of the N-GT runners outside the Super Pole, eighth in class.
NOTES AND QUOTES
Christophe Bouchut, nr 1 Larbre Competition Chrysler Viper GTS-R: "We are using a similar engine to our Le Mans engine that does not have the same horsepower the one we usually have, so I think this was a good result for us. We did not use new tyres because I wanted to keep them for the race. The accident I had yesterday, the line on the track was dry but not the kerb. It was not the first time that I had this sort of accident. You have a completely flat kerb and when it is between dry and wet, if you use the wet kerb, it is already too late and you have an accident. It can be very dangerous, and I don't like this corner."
Fabrizio Gollin, nr 4 Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper GTS-R: "I think that the team has done a good job and my Chrysler has a good set-up for the 24 hours. I hope that we have no technical problems tomorrow."
Paul Belmondo, nr 11 Paul Belmondo Racing Chrysler Viper GTS-R: "That was our best qualifying position so far this season. The other car should have qualified in front of us, but they had a damper problem that has just been sorted out. I am happy with the team and with the cars so far."
Jamie Campbell-Walter, nr 14 Lister Storm: "The car was OK. The traction wasn't as good as yesterday although the car was exactly the same. Apparently we were up in the first sector by three tenths, so it was disappointing not to get pole. However, we are not here to win the fastest lap - we want to win the race. This is like any other race so far. Last night in the wet was pretty exciting and the rain made it difficult. We got our lights pointing in the right direction and the car was very good."
Peter Kox, nr 22 BMS Scuderia Italia, Ferrari 550 Maranello: "That was my first Super Pole since the BTCC! On my slowing down lap, Piccini was very quick, and I was surprised that he came up behind me so fast. I saw him coming so I moved over. I hope that I didn't hold him up because that means that he could have gone even faster, and that would have been gutting!"
Andrea Piccini, nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia, Ferrari 550 Maranello: "It is a very good feeling to be on pole. I think that our car is very good. However, the Viper is a 24 hour car, they have done many 24 hour races. Our team has worked hard, but it doesn't have the knowledge to do 24 hours. Today, I was not as fast through Eau Rouge as I was yesterday. Yesterday, I also tried the Blanchimont corner flat out yesterday. It was a little bit too much and I went off, but that was OK because there is tarmac on the outside. You cannot take that risk during the Super Pole though, because you might go off and not set a time at all!"
Andrea Garbagnati, nr 50 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena: "We have four different drivers so we have to find a set-up to suit everybody. The car is very good in the corners and I think through Eau Rouge we are very competitive, but then we are lacking some top-end speed. The car has become easier to drive, so I think we will be good for the 24 hours."
Christian Pescatori, nr 50 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena: "We have worked a lot to improve the set-up for the race and I am happy with that qualifying time. We are fast in the corners but the Porsche is too fast on the straight for us."
Stephane Ortelli, nr 54 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3R: "I am very happy because we had a very good test at the test day. We are working on the set up for the race and to be racing without the 50kg success ballast makes our life easier. If you have a look at the paddock you can see that this is a great event and I am looking forward to my third 24 hours this year, after Daytona and Le Mans. It will certainly be one of the best races for us this year."
Bert Longin, nr 55 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3R: "Fortunately I know the circuit, and I drive here in the Belgian Championship. It is my first year in the FIA GT, and Stephane [Ortelli] is helping me a lot, and giving me some tips, so I am going faster and setting some good times. on how to make the car go faster so we are getting better. It was not a really good lap, it was a 2:26 but it could have been better."
Luca Riccitelli, nr 76 RWS Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3R: "Yesterday morning we said that the engine would blow up. The engine was running really badly and now, on Friday afternoon, it has finally blown up. You cannot work on the set-up of the car or anything if you are like that with the engine, but now, during the final qualifying, it has finally gone."