Estoril: Round two qualifying report

Oreca's Estoril Pole. Team ORECA celebrated their second pole position in as many weeks at Estoril this afternoon, but whereas their Barcelona time-topper seven days ago was disallowed for an airbox infringement, this one survived post...

Oreca's Estoril Pole.

Team ORECA celebrated their second pole position in as many weeks at Estoril this afternoon, but whereas their Barcelona time-topper seven days ago was disallowed for an airbox infringement, this one survived post qualifying scrutineering.

Olivier Beretta's Dallara Judd set the time of 1m29.401s to beat the Racing For Holland Dome of Jan Lammers by six tenths of a second. Beretta was delighted after the session, especially as the team had encountered problems earlier in the day during free practice. "The whole team did a great job today as we had a problem this morning when the throttle cable broke," said the Monagasque."The car felt very good and we have a nice balance with the Goodyear tyres in both a qualifying and a race situation."

Beretta will be partnered tomorrow by ex ChampCar racer Nicolas Minassian who has returned to the team that he raced for at Le Mans in 2000.

Lining up alongside the Dallara will be Jan Lammers and Val Hillebrand's black and white Dome. Jan conducted the qualifying work and got to within two tenths of a second off Beretta's time before the ORECA Dallara pulled away. Lammers was also recovering from dramas in the mornings free practice session when he collected an SR2 car and suffered broken steering and cosmetic damage to the front of the car. The flamboyant Dutchman even had time for a quick rotation coming out of the pits, but emerged undimmed by the experience. "We experimented a little with the tyres today but coming on to the circuit I got caught out by the coldness of them and had a nice, quick 360!"

The second row of the rolling grid will be an all Courage affair with Yves Courage's team beating the Henri Pescarolo fronted C60 Peugeot of Jean Christophe Boullion and Franck Lagorce. Boris Dereichebourg set the time for Courage Competition and battled understeer to register a 1m31.568s lap. The team had been lucky not to have their car set alight in the morning free practice when a fuel leak from an injector was spotted by an eagle eyed engineer just as the car was about to be started.

Jean Christophe Boullion concentrated on race set up for Pescarolo Sport throughout the qualifying period and never had any intention of going for pole position. Team boss and all round sportscar legend - Henri Pescarolo explained the team's philosophy during the qualifying period. "We had 30 kilos extra to carry in success ballast here so we decided that even if we ran soft tyres and little fuel we would not beat the Dallara and Dome, "said the four time Le Mans winner. Jean Christophe went out on full tanks and hard tyres and set a time that we are very pleased with going in to the race tomorrow."

Durango were greatly encouraged by the pace of their GMS Judd combination and they wound up 5th fastest with rapid young Italian Mirko Venturi once again being entrusted with qualifying duties. The 20 year old Milanese could have gone even faster but blotted his copybook with a spin on what would have been his quickest lap.

R&M continued to put miles on their brand new chassis with Mauro Baldi trying a variety of set ups in the Riley & Scott based car. Team manager Luca Bersili explained some of the teams modifications coming in to the Estoril weekend." We badly need a test but also we need experience with the car in a racing environment," he said. "We have tried different positions for the rear wing in these sessions today as we feel it is at the rear of the car that we can find the ideal solutions to finding out more in terms of set-up."

SR2 saw another Lucchini 1-2 with Mirko Savoldi winning the all-Italian battle over experienced GT racer Fabio Mancini and getting the best of his Goodyear tyres. Savoldi was delighted with his first ever sportscar pole position and he just pipped Mancini by three hundreths of a second.

Mancini widened the beam on Giorgio Lucchini's face by lining up alongside Savoldi despite using their spare engine after a blow up in Barcelona last weekend. His team mate Gianni Collini enthused about their all-round package after the session. "We have a great car and a great engine here at Lucchini," said the former GT racer. "We are running Yokohama tyres for the first time this season and they are working really well at the moment."

The SportsRacing Team Sweden Lola B2K/40 Nissan of Mattias Andersson and Niklas Loven came in third. British racers Sam Hignett and John Stack are 4th in there Team Jota Pilbeam Nissan despite losing most of the second free practice session when Hignett crashed the car.

PiR Competition cars sandwich the SCI Lucchini of Randaccio and Maddalena who ran out fuel while on their quickest lap. The Portuguese pairing of Pedro Couceiro and Manuel Giao performed well on their sportscar debuts and line up on the penultimate row of the grid ahead of the Pilbeam of Bruneau/Rostan and Britain's Paul Daniels.

Round Two of the Championship kicks off at 13.30cet tomorrow afternoon and the weather forecast predicts fine conditions with only a 15% chance of a rain shower.

1. Beretta/Minassian Team ORECA Dallara Judd 1m29.401s
2. Lammers/Hillebrand Racing For Holland Dome Judd 1m29.936s
3. Cottaz/Dereichebourg Courage Competition C60JX Judd 1m31.568s
4. Boullion/Lagorce Pescarolo Sport Courage C60 Peugeot 1m32.753s
5. Venturi/Battaglin Durango GMS Judd 1m34.203s
6. Baldi/Caffi R&M Judd 1m35.260s
7. Peroni/Savoldi Lucchini Alfa 1m35.862s
8. Mancini/Collini Lucchini Alfa 1m35.895s
9. Andersson/Loven SRTS Lola Nissan 1m37.616s
10. Hignett/Stack Team Jota Pilbeam Nissan 1m38.502s
11. Giao/Couceiro PiR Competition Debora Nissan 1m39.997s
12. Randaccio/Maddalena SCI Lucchini Alfa 1m40.225s
13. Bruneau/Rostan/Daniels PiR Competition Pilbeam Peugeot 1m41.254s

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About this article
Series GT
Drivers Jan Lammers , Henri Pescarolo , Nicolas Minassian , Franck Lagorce , Mauro Baldi , Val Hillebrand , Olivier Beretta , Paul Daniels , Pedro Couceiro , Manuel Giao , John Stack , Sam Hignett , Gianni Collini , Mattias Andersson , Fabio Mancini , Yves Courage , Mirko Venturi