Catalunya: Series qualifying report

Viva Strakka! You expected a big surprise? Here it is! The track record lap-time was not broken this afternoon, but the chase was really awesome. A brand new car and a brand new team are on pole and it seems that we are in for a tough...

Viva Strakka!

You expected a big surprise? Here it is! The track record lap-time was not broken this afternoon, but the chase was really awesome. A brand new car and a brand new team are on pole and it seems that we are in for a tough and exciting race tomorrow.

At the beginning of the season, everyone hopes that their upgraded mechanical and aerodynamic packages will make them more competitive here, but there is only one pole-sitter: Danny Watts in the Strakka Racing Ginetta-Zytek.

Few venues offer such a variety of medium and high-speed corners as Circuit of Catalunya and it is widely acknowledged as the definitive aero circuit that provides a hard test of a race-car, so it is not easy for drivers to get used to all its twist, turns and technical intricacies.

Strakka Racing rules in LMP1

The new equivalence between diesel and petrol engines put the field upside-down. The diesel cars reigned absolutely last year, but this year, they must share the top of time-sheets! The key to a quick lap in Montmelo is to find a good rhythm and to make sure that the car works well in slow-speed corners. It is obviously what Strakka Racing and his driver could do.

These last two days' test sessions already proved that the Ginetta-Zytek does not enter the Le Mans Series with a token role. But still, it is a tremendous result for a newcomer as Danny Watts said: "For a fairly new team, the pole is fantastic, but tomorrow is a very long race and we must stay out of trouble. We have had no technical problems for two days and the balance is really good. Of course, we would like to win but we are here to score points because we keep the end of the series in mind."

Everyone looked at the two new Lolas-Aston Martin in their blue and orange livery and they did not fail, taking the second and third positions on the grid, right in front of one of the new Pescarolos. Meanwhile, Bruno Senna in his Oreca-AIM could not do better than seven whereas both Audis could not fight for the pole.

LMP2 causes a major stir too!

Racing Box is having a field day today with the Lola-Judd. Following a disappointing season the team is back, but stronger than ever. Giacomo Piccini is among the new drivers' squad and posted the best lap-time, to his great surprise: "This is my first time in Le Mans Series and Barcelona is a fantastic track. I have to admit that it is sometimes difficult to stop in front of the right spot in the pits because there are so many cars!"

In accordance with the test sessions, Quiffel ASM Team Ginetta-Zytek and Speedy Racing Team Sebah Lola-Judd complete the qualifying podium and should fight hard tomorrow to get their first victory in Le Mans Series, but for sure, the new regulation slowed down the LMP2s compared with last year.

IPB Spartak leads LMGT1, but will start from behind

Not many cars enter the class, but competition is fierce: that is the conclusion that can be drawn from the test sessions. Peter Kox in IPB Spartak Lamborghini Murcielago was really happy to set the pole: "I think that the team did a good job and prepared the car very well. Lap-times improved a little bit but yesterday was a hard day because there was no grip on the track, but the difference today came from tires. I have Michelin tires whereas my main opponents don't: that's why I am on pole." The Dutch driver was unfortunately disqualified because the air-box failed to pass scrutineering, so Luc Alphand Aventures Corvette will start from pole.

JMW on the line in LMGT2

No less than 13 LMGT2 made the trip to Spain and 4 marques are ready to struggle, but the pole cannot be shared... As often last year, the Ferrari was the fastest car of the field, but Gianmaria Bruni was a little bit surprised to top the time-sheets: "I was like blind before the qualifying session because we had electronic problems yesterday and I did not drive many laps, but obviously we are in the right direction. Ferrari and Porsche are really close and I am happy with my Dunlop tires. Tomorrow we must stay out of traffic but it won't be an easy race."

The figure of the day!

27!

The first round of the season welcomes no less than 27 "rookies" on the track!

27 new comers in the Series, among who some more or less young people, but also some VERY young drivers, such as Sean Edwards (22 years old), or Maximo Cortes who is 20 years old only!

Some new drivers in Le Mans Series already have an impressive career, such as Bruno Senna (2008 GP2 Series Vice-Champion) or Patrick PIlet who was the 2004 Formula Renault France Champion, the 2007 Carrera Cup France champion and a Daytona regular.

Some of the others have full-of-promises names, such as the young Nicolas Prost or Leo Mansell. Some drivers are famous, but for other reasons, like Lord Paul Drayson, who simply is the current British Science and Innovation Minister!

-credit: lemans-series.com

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Gianmaria Bruni , Peter Kox , Luc Alphand , Bruno Senna , Sean Edwards , Paul Drayson , Leo Mansell , Danny Watts
Teams Strakka Racing