Indianapolis qualifying report

Porsche-Pirelli-Supercup: 11th & 12th Rounds at the USA Grand Prix, Indianapolis INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- September 28 -- On a chilly fall day in the Midwest, two European GT racing stars took the pole postions for Saturday and Sunday's ...

Porsche-Pirelli-Supercup: 11th & 12th Rounds at the USA Grand Prix, Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- September 28 -- On a chilly fall day in the Midwest, two European GT racing stars took the pole postions for Saturday and Sunday's Porsche-Pirelli SuperCup event which will run this weekend in conjunction with the United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Sascha Maassen, the German driver who has been in contention all season for the American Le Mans Series GT driver's championship, was angry after the first qualifying session as the wrong car setup and not enough fuel prevented him for getting in a good lap. "I knew we could go faster, but all I could do is sit in the pits and get mad," said Maassen, who will compete in a Porsche 911 GT3 RS next weekend at Road Atlanta in the Petit Le Mans event.

"In the second session, after we had made some adjustments to the wing and car suspension, I went much faster, and was very pleased to win the pole," he said. Maassen celebrated his 32nd birthday today.

Jorg Bergmeister, also from Germany, was fastest in the first session, which determined the grid for tomorrow's event, while Maassen's fast lap puts him on the pole for Sunday's race. All 18 competitors race a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car -- identically prepared 3.6-liter, six-cylinder engines which produce 370 horsepower -- and have the engines and transmissions sealed by Porsche to ensure equal performance.

Bergmeister, who won the second race here a year ago, can clinch the season championship with a podium finish tomorrow. He has a commanding lead over fellow German Marco Werner, with just the Indy races left in the season.

David Donohue, from Malvern, Penn., whose late father Mark won the Indianapolis 500 in 1972, didn't have a great day, calling his experience in the Porsche "a humbling one."

Donohue, 34, winner of the Bridgestone Supercar Championship during his first professional season (1994) and the CART Super Touring Driver's title in 1997, hopes to improve on his 12th and 13th positions from qualifying.

"This is best road course inside an oval in the country, but if you lose the draft, you're lost here," he said. "The car's tons of fun to drive, but I have to get better."

Sam Hornish, Jr., the 22 year-old Defiance, Ohio, racer who won the 2001 Indy Racing League championship, qualified near the back of the pack, but was optimistic that he would get the hang of the GT car versus the single-seat racers he is used to driving.

The third American racing star is Gunnar Jeannette, from West Palm Beach, Florida, who is the youngest driver in the event. Jeannette qualified 12th in the second session -- his best effort -- and feels his time improving with every lap.

"Drivng one of these cars earlier in the season at Spa has really helped, but most of these guys have 5 -- 10 years of experience in GT racing -- and I'm only 19," said Jeannette, who made his first Daytona 24-Hours start while he was still in high school.

-PSC-

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Series General
Drivers Sascha Maassen , David Donohue , Jörg Bergmeister , Gunnar Jeannette , Marco Werner , Sam Hornis