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LMES - Silverstone 1000 Kms - Qualifying Report
What Does Today Hold In Store?
Minassian, Erdos, Bouchut & Kirkaldy
Faster Than Kerr, Ian?

The two cars that 'didn't' qualify last night are OK - the A:Level Porsche and Kruse Courage. The LMP2 was in clutch master cylinder trouble, but Kai kruse iss confident that the team will be allowed to race into the night tonight. Wolfgang Kaufmann did one lap last night, but that will be enough for him to race in darkness.

The #56 Viper though was in trouble, after an accident in night practice it requires a part for the suspension that is currently not in the immediate vicinity of the circuit.

The weather forecast? Torrential rain at lunchtime....

9.45 - Prototype Qualifying
It was dry and fairly bright as the LMPs ventured out

An early spin for Jonathan Cochet in the No 13 Courage caught out Bob Berridge too, both rejoining undamaged.

First of the LMP1s to show real pace was Sam Hignett in the Team Jota Zytek, a 1:37.422 though was just a taster for the real battle for pole to come.

Cochet was next up with a 1.38.4 but then the pace was upped dramatically by Nicolas Minassian in the Creation DBA - with a storming triple lap stint, the first of which demolished the previous mark (a 1:35.9) only to be challenged by Hayanari Shimoda with a 1:36.3. But the little Frenchman was not to be denied, a 1:35.2 was reeled off next before the DBA hammer finally drove the nail into the competition with a storming 1:34.562.

Behind these two the battle for the second row was being fought between McNish and Collard, the Audi and Pescarolo exchanging fastest laps before the French car prevailed, just 48 thousanths behind the #15 Zytek as the LMP session drew to a close..

Both of the Rollcentre Dallaras meanwhile had broken the 1:40 barrier - but both lay behind the RML MG Lola, Thomas Erdos bettering his predicted 1:39.5 potential by a substantial margin, a 1:38.722 good enough for 7th overall at the halfway mark and a second quicker than the still very quick #41 Binnie Motorsport Lola, Sam Hancock.

Next up in LMP2 was the Kruse Courage with the Noel Del Bello Courage rounding out the top 12 as a result of Christophe Tinseau's efforts. The quick-fire 20 minute sessions work wonderfully!

Tommy Erdos: "I did two flying laps, a 1:38.8 then 38.7. One was maybe held up a tiny little bit by traffic, but only half a tenth. Then at the end of the second lap, Bob Berridge saw me coming and got out of the way, like a perfect gentleman."

Mike Newtion: "That's it we're on pole. First part of the job done."

Fiona Miller (Creation PR angel): "I didn't hoop and holler (when Nic set pole) but I did the movements." Very special they were too, apparently. What a mover.

JC-W: "I'm just glad to get a good night's sleep."

Nic Minassian: "It was a hell of a lap to be honest. Since last year we have improved the car a lot, and we have found the prfect set-up. We knew what we needed for qualifying, and the car was blindingly fast. I was pushing really hard - but still with that little margin you need - because it's an endurance race and you can't risk the car."

Ian Bickerton: "That's quicker than Kerr's time last year, with 70 kg more and smaller restrictors."

Er... no it isn't Ian. Robbie Kerr set a 1:34.033. But with the handicaps, this is a remarkable time, last year's Creation qualifying time being a 1:36.4.

10:05 GT Session

The BMS Ferraris were both quickly up to speed and under 1:50, but the bar was about to be raised substantially by the Aston Martin, a 1:46.217 well over a second better than the leading Ferraris. Peter Kox took up the chase in the MenX 550, only to be shaded by Christophe Bouchut in the #61 Convers Team 550 - a GT1 1,2 for Rob Schirle's team at the halfway point in the session. It would stay like that with the next improvement, but it would be the Ferrari to the fore, Bouchut posting a 1:46.054, Prodrive Classic beats New Prodrive, thus far at least.

In GT2 it was Andrew Kirkaldy, looking for a double pole position this weekend (with the British GT session to follow the LMES qualifying), a 1:51.713 half a second ahead of the second 360, Babini pushing hard in the GPC car.

Third up was the #82 Team LNT TVR, Marc Hynes at the wheel with Marc Lieb in the 'oldie but goodie' Sebah Porsche sandwiched between the LNT boys, the #81 T400R half a second shy of the 2004 class winning car. The TVR would narrow the gap by the end of the session but would remain sixth in class.

Mike Rockenfeller was looking to uphold Porsche pride: he put the Autorlando, Porche development 911RSR up to second in class, still half a second down on the Scottish Ferrari but a hundredth up on the GPC 360.

Andrew Kirkaldy: "Our frst pole - that was good. We did our set-up yesterday morning, although the track is a little different now and we've got a bt of oversteer. We wanted to see what Rockenfeller would do, and I think he did his time on his first lap. I did mine on my third, but the second and third were quite similar."

Mike Rockenfeller: "I set it on my second lap - on my first, a TVR came out of the pits right in front of me. Our set-up is not perfect, I had a lot of understeer. The Ferrari times was very impressive - but they were testing here earlier this week. I'm a little worried that our set-up will get worse during the race - more understeer."

Mike Rockenfeller is looking forward to the next ALMS race, in the BAM! Porsche, with Wolf Henzler (at Road America). So are we.

In the meantime, we have the pospect of a fabulous 1000 km race ahead - but what is that weather going to do? The clouds are getting lower, and moving in.

Next up from us will be reports throughout the race, which starts at 16.00 BST.

 

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