Round-up - GT1s at Ricard
So Zakspeed Racing topped the timing sheets on both days of testing at Paul Ricard on March 7/8, with Sascha Bert behind the wheel of the Saleen S7-R.

GT1 Times (Day 1 – Day 2 - unofficial)
Saleen Zakspeed 2.04.840 2:02.646
Aston Martin RaceAlliance 2.05.271 2:03.386
Corvette C5-R PSI 2.07.634 2:04.544
Corvette C6.R PSI 2.07.701 2:05.321
Lamborghini B-Racing 2.10.571 2:06.430
Lamborghini Reiter 2.10.967 2:11.666

The white and blue Saleen ran trouble-free and covered plenty of miles, as the team collected data on its Michelins. New Zakspeed team manager Andreas Leberle remarked that Sascha Bert left a good impression with the team, both on the track and working with the crew. Leberle himself is probably best known from his time in the ChampCar world series where he co-owned, with Christian Danner, the Project Indy team. His predecessor at Zakspeed Racing, Andreas Hainke, is now in charge of RaceAlliance’s Aston Martin DBR9(s).

“I am delighted that the team is working so well,” said Andreas Leberle, “and also that working with the American Saleen technicians was perfect here at Paul Ricard. Now it is up to us to develop additional synergies between Saleen, the marque’s European representative, Oreca, and our own team.”

Saleen factory engineer Derk Hartland was present at Paul Ricard as well, adding a further indication that Zakspeed Racing is going to be a front-running team.

Meanwhile, the RaceAlliance team summed up its two days as - great potential, but a lot of work still ahead. The Austrian team had two Aston Martin DBR9s on hand - one still in plain white (which barely ran).

“We had to deal with the usual little gremlins that you will find in a new car,” said team manager Andreas Hainke, “and unfortunately, it has cost us a lot of time. Still, the test was positive in that team and drivers worked together very well from the start.”

“The Aston Martin has extraordinary potential,” remarked Karl Wendlinger. “Now we must find out the car’s intricacies. To find that last second that separates you from the top is always the hardest. A lot of work is waiting for us in the coming tests.”

“Our primary goal was to get ourselves acquainted with our new car, with the whole RaceAlliance crew, and our new tyre partner, Dunlop,” said Philipp Peter. The team’s next test scheduled for this weekend at Estoril, in conjunction with tyre partner Dunlop.

Also present with the team, but in a GT2 car, was Lukas Lichtner-Hoyer, co-owner of RaceAlliance, who will be making his in the championship this year, with the team’s Porsche. His racing experience comes from the Alpenpokal and similar Porsche-based club series, as well as outings such as the recent Dubai 24 Hours, with a Duller Motorsport BMW M3. His main concern at Le Castellet was the GT1 team, however, and as far as RaceAlliance’s goals are concerned, he is aiming high: “From my work in aviation I am used to striving for the highest standard of quality to satisfy my customers. So our vision in racing is to have the best drivers competing in the best car for the best team. We will definitely sort out all remaining teething troubles in the remaining tests.”

The PSI Corvettes were third and fourth fastest in the 2:04 / 2:05 bracket, testing both Dunlop and Pirelli tyres - they'll use both this year, depending on which series they happen to be racing in at the time. Kuismanen, Menten and Palttala were testing the C6, Halliday and Alliot the C5. Christophe Bouchut (we think) found a time in the 2:06s on the second day, in the B-Racing Lamborghini. Marini Franchitti, hot-foot from Mexico City, also drove this car.

Correction: Franchitti set the 2:06.

The Reiter Murcielago remained off the ultimate pace, in the high 2:10s / 2:11s, reason unknown.

GT3 round-up to come - but the two days were primarily not for the media, much more for the FIA and its equalisation procedures.

 

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