|Gollin And Ortelli On Pole
Fabrizio Gollin took his third pole position in the FIA GT Championship at Monza today, setting at time of 1:43.509 to place the No. 2 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello on the first row of the grid for tomorrow's 500 km race.
He will start alongside the team's second car, driven by reigning champion Matteo Bobbi and his new team-mate, Gabriele Gardel. As for Stephane Ortelli, Monza was his tenth pole position, setting a time of 1:49.540 in the afternoon's session in the Freisinger Yukos Porsche 996 GT3 he shares with Emmanuel Collard. Sascha Maassen will start in second place in N-GT, in the No. 99 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche.
Heavy rain overnight meant that the track was still damp during the first session, and although it dried gradually, sections remained damp. By the afternoon session, the weather had brightened, and the track was dry.
First Qualifying Session:
After the Vitaphone Saleen S7-R set the fastest time in both of Friday's free practice sessions, the BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello, driven by Fabrizio Gollin and Luca Cappellari, was fastest in the morning. The first qualifying session was officially declared wet, and times were initially slow on the slippery surface. Early on there were problems for the No. 1 Ferrari, which collided under braking with a JMB Ferrari. This left the reigning champion stranded in the gravel, missing the rest of the session. The times gradually came down, with Gollin setting the fastest times early on.
However, fifteen minutes into the session, the fastest man on the track was newcomer to the Championship, Paolo Ruberti, in the Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7-R. After setting the second-fastest time, he then improved to take provisional pole, and was the first driver under the 1:50 barrier. In the final few minutes, times continued to fall, and first the No. 2 BMS Ferrari, and then the No. 4 KoNo.ad Saleen and the No. 17 JMB Ferrari 575 M Maranello overtook the Graham Nash car.
A minute before the session ended, Gollin took provisional pole with a lap of 1:46.296. With the track continuing to dry, a number of cars improved after the chequered flag fell, but Gollin retained the fastest time, ahead of the No. 5 Vitaphone Saleen, the No. 3 Care Racing Ferrari and the No. 17 JMB Ferrari 575, with the Graham Nash Saleen finally fifth. The No. 14 Lister had been rebuilt overnight after the free practice crash; the team worked on the car during the first session and it would be ready to set a time in the afternoon.
In the N-GT category, the AB Motorsport Porsche of Castro, Premoli and Barbaro was fastest in the early stages. However, its times were soon eclipsed by the No. 50 Freisinger Yukos car of Ortelli and Collard, followed by the No. 62 GPC Giesse Ferrari. The No. 50 continued to lead throughout, but eventually had its times cancelled, due to failing the ride-height test. This left the No. 62 Ferrari on provisional pole, ahead of the No. 77 Freisinger Yukos Porsche of Alexei Vasiliev and Nikolaj Fomenko, and the AB Motorsport Porsche third.
Second Qualifying Session:
Matteo Bobbi, who had missed most of the morning session and was down in 15th position, immediately set good times in the morning, taking the lead with a lap of 1:45.855. Tom Coronel, in the No. 14 Lister Storm, was flying early on, and moved up to third place. The No. 28 Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7-R, which had been so quick in the morning, stopped on the circuit with a loose fuel pipe. Fifteen minutes into the session, Gollin took provisional pole, with a lap of 1:44.579, with the No.3 Ferrari up into third place, giving a Ferrari 550 one-two-three.
Bobbi and Gollin changed places again half-way through the session, a lap of 1:43.789 giving Bobbi provisional pole.
But the Ferrari 550 stronghold was finally broken when the No. 5 Saleen S7-R moved up into second place with a time of 1:44.101. Two minutes before the end of the 45-minute session, Gollin took pole again, improving to 1:43.509, and demoting the No. 1 BMS car to second, the Vitaphone Saleen to third. The Care Racing Ferrari was fourth, with the No. 14 Lister Storm in fifth position. Times were close, with the top three within 0.6 of a second, and Gollin's pole time five hundreds of a second faster than the pole time in October, set by Anthony Kumpen in a Force One Chrysler Viper GTS-R.
In N-GT, the No. 50 Freisinger Yukos Porsche took provisional pole early on, on the now dry track. But the No. 62 GPC Giesse Ferrari lost all hopes of challenging for the pole when it went into the gravel, and was forced to miss the rest of the session. This left the Porsche cars with a clear field, and Stephane Ortelli took pole with a lap of 1:49.540, ahead of the No. 99 Freisinger Motorsport car of Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr, with Christian Pescatori and Fabrizio De Simone third in the GPC Ferrari.
The four Saleen S7 cars which were concerned by scrutineering decisions yesterday were authorised to take part in qualifying, warm-up and the race, providing that they respect the bodywork seals affixed by the scrutineers. Any time that the team needs to work under the sealed bodywork, the unsealing can only be done by the scrutineers, who will reseal it at the end of the operation.
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