Valencia: Qualifying report

Two black Peugeot 908 Hdi FAPs will start the second round of the Le Mans Series, the Valencia 1000kms, from the front row after qualifying took place in perfect conditions today. Series leader Marc Gene, sharing his Peugeot with Nicolas ...

Two black Peugeot 908 Hdi FAPs will start the second round of the Le Mans Series, the Valencia 1000kms, from the front row after qualifying took place in perfect conditions today.

Series leader Marc Gene, sharing his Peugeot with Nicolas Minassian, set pole position time ahead of Pedro Lamy in the sister car, but the ght for the second row was ercely fought, with six cars separated by a single second behind Hayanari Shimoda's third-placed Arena Motorsport Zytek.

Gene's time, of 1m23.489s, was set at the start of the qualifying session on a relatively clear track and was four tenths of a second faster than Lamy's best, also set at the very start of the session. "We came here two months ago in testing and qualifying went as we expected it to," said Gene, whose car headed two of the three practice sessions in addition to qualifying.

"I did not have any traffic and on my second lap I tried to improve but there was traffic, so I had to abort. After that, the tyres were past their best." The two Peugeots have enjoyed an advantage over the rest of the field throughout the weekend, but challengers have emerged from unexpected quarters.

Shimoda, a title challenger in 2005, was third fastest in the Arena Motorsport-run Zytek 07S with a time of 1m24.594s. The car is making its Le Mans Series debut this weekend, and this is the first time that Shimoda has driven a sports car in competition since Istanbul more than a year ago.

"My first lap was a good lap, but after that, the tyre performance had gone away," said the Japanese. Completing a fantastic qualifying session for Zytek, Michael Vergers was fourth fastest overall in the "LM" P2 class Barazi Epsilon car that he will share with Karim Ojjeh and Juan Barazi. It was no one-off, either, as Vergers had set third fastest time overall in the third practice session on Saturday morning, just 0.066s shy of the Peugeots.

"I waited in the pits, saw where the gap was in the traf c, and went for it," said Vergers of his qualifying session. "The "LM" P1 cars are faster than us in a straight line, but we are very good in the corners."

Romain Dumas was fifth fastest overall in the Pescarolo, but the team is not running with the new, 2007 bodywork which is due out for next month's Le Mans 24 hours. The team lost running time on Friday when Jean-Christophe Boullion suffered a brake problem and crashed, heavily damaging the rear of the car. The Pescarolo mechanics worked until 3am to repair the car.

Dumas, who is deputising for Emmanuel Collard alongside Boullion, was 2.1s off the pole position time having waited in the pits for a gap in the traffic and completed only two laps, neither of which were clear.

He first lost time when Bob Berridge spun his Chamberlain Synergy Motorsport Lola in front of him, and then had a yellow ag on his fastest lap when team-mate Harold Primat spun. "I backed off because if I went faster, it would not have counted because of the yellow," said Dumas.

Tommy Erdos was sixth fastest overall, second in the "LM" P2 class in the RML-run MG Lola EX264, ahead of the Charouz Lola, which was qualified by Malaysian driver Alex Yoong. "I didn't get the most out of the car," admitted Yoong, who is making his debut with the team. "I still don't have the right feeling for the brakes, but that will come with more running."


Soheil Ayari was one of the first to leave the pits at the start of qualifying for the GT cars, which took place separately to the prototype qualifying session. The Team ORECA Saleen driver took full advantage of a clear track to record pole position time, seven tenths of a second clear of the Racing Box Saleen S7R of Marco Cioci.

Tomorrow's race, held in temperatures of 22 degrees Centigrade (71F), will be physically challenging for the drivers of the closed cockpit GT cars and they are preparing for a tough six- hour race on Sunday afternoon.

"The car was perfect," said Ayari after qualifying. "I did a lap without any traf c. The car is very good, well set up. We had come here before in testing, so we knew what to do with the car to prepare for the race."

Jerome Policand was third fastest in the Chevrolet Corvette C6-R shared with Luc Alphand and Patrice Goueslard. Policand completed 10 laps in qualifying compared to Antonio Garcia, who drove just ve in the Team Modena Aston Martin to set fourth fastest time in the car that he will share with Brazilian Christian Fittipaldi and American Liz Halliday.

The two AMR Larbre Competition Aston Martins were fourth and fifth fastest in the class, Christophe Bouchut edging out Gregory Franchi who has been struggling all weekend with oversteer in his DBR9.


Richard Lietz made it three in a row when the German set the GT2 pole position time in the IMSA Matmut Porsche 997 shared with Raymond Narac.

Lietz, who was fastest in the Le Mans Series test at Paul Ricard in March and was on pole position for the opening round at Monza, set a time of 1m36.704s, one tenth of a second faster than Dirk Werner in the Farnbacher Racing Porsche.

"In the Carrera Cup and the Supercup you have to use the tyres well," said Lietz. "I did it for three years, and was often on pole position. The set up of the car is very good this weekend. We made a big change since Monza, made the car much stiffer because that is the way Raymond likes it."

Marc Lieb was third fastest in the Team Felbermayr Proton Porsche having selected the hardest compound Pirelli tyres for the qualifying session. "I am sure that at the end of the six hours, we can be at the front," said Lieb.

The Ferrari 430s which had dominated the practice sessions ahead of the Porsches, nished fourth, fifth and sixth in the class, led by Allan Simonsen in the Virgo Motorsport Ferrari, ahead of Denny Zardo's Scuderia Villorba Ferrari and Sergio Hernandez for GPC Sport.

Credit: lms

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Series European Le Mans
Drivers Antonio Garcia , Nicolas Minassian , Marc Gene , Christian Fittipaldi , Emmanuel Collard , Pedro Lamy , Michael Vergers , Alex Yoong , Jean-Christophe Boullion , Harold Primat , Hayanari Shimoda , Luc Alphand , Christophe Bouchut , Patrice Goueslard , Marc Lieb , Jérome Policand , Romain Dumas , Sergio Hernandez , Soheil Ayari , Marco Cioci , Allan Simonsen , Bob Berridge , Liz Halliday , Karim Ojjeh , Raymond Narac , Denny Zardo , Dirk Werner , Richard Lietz
Teams Larbre Competition , Team Felbermayr