Interlagos: Series qualifying report
SARRAZIN TAKES POLE FOR MIL MILHAS BRAZIL Stephane Sarrazin recorded his first pole position time of the season for Saturday's 51st anniversary Mil Milhas, held at Interlagos in Brazil. The Frenchman went out late in the 20 minute session and set ...
SARRAZIN TAKES POLE FOR MIL MILHAS BRAZIL
Stephane Sarrazin recorded his first pole position time of the season for Saturday's 51st anniversary Mil Milhas, held at Interlagos in Brazil. The Frenchman went out late in the 20 minute session and set a best of 1m18.787s in his dieselpowered Peugeot 908 HDI FAP.
It is the first time that the number 8 Peugeot has beaten its sister car, driven by Marc Gene and Nicolas Minassian, in qualifying this season. Gene's best of 1m18.977s was set earlier in the session after Jamie Campbell-Walter and Jean- Christophe Boullion had traded fastest laps in their Creation and Pescarolo respectively.
Campbell-Walter, who will share the Creation with Felipe Ortiz and Stuart Hall, set a best of 1m 22.254s but that time was taken away in scrutineering when the car failed a ride-height test. The three will start last of the prototypes in seventh place.
"I did push a lot and the lap time was very good at the end of the session," said Sarrazin. "It is important for us to be on pole, and now the test is finished we have to think of the race."
Boullion, was mystified as to a sudden understeer problem that manifested itself in the afternoon session. "The tyre pressures were not good," he said. "We don't understand -- they were the same set we used this morning and we have changed nothing on the car."
Boullion lies just two points behind the Peugeot of Sarrazin and Pedro Lamy and must finish on the podium with his title rival failing to score to take the title for himself. His co-driver Emmanuel Collard missed the second race at Valencia, where he was replaced by Romain Dumas, and therefore cannot be the champion. However, Gene and Minassian may yet take the title. They are eight points behind Lamy and Sarrazin having won twice this season.
Michael Vergers proclaimed himself to be disappointed that he was not closer to the "LM" P1 cars in qualifying, but never the less qualified the Barazi Epsilon Zytek 07S on class pole by more than a second.
Vergers set a best time of 1m23.449s in the Zytek that he will share with Karim Ojjeh and Juan Barazi. Warren Hughes was second fastest in the Embassy Racing Radical that he will share with Darren Manning and Mario Haberfeld, while Marc Rostan was third in the Pierre Bruneau Pilbeam.
"I raced in the Mil Milhas in 2005 when it started at midnight and ran into daylight," said Vergers. "It will be very dark here at the end of the race. It was nice to be challenging the Creation and the Pescarolo, and in the race, anything can happen."
Shortly after the qualifying session, a shower of rain hit the track and more showers are forecast over the weekend.
Olivier Beretta, the multiple American Le Mans Series and FIA GT Champion, was tasked with qualifying for the Luc Alphand Aventures team, and completed his mission by setting pole position time in the Corvette C6R.
The Monegasque, who will drive with his fellow 2007 ALMS GT1 champion Oliver Gavin and Patrice Goueslard, has his sights set on taking the class win, confirming the team's automatic entry to the 2008 Le Mans 24 hours for finishing second in the standings.
Yet Beretta, with Karl Wendlinger and Dominique Dupuy, won the Daytona 24 hours overall in 2000 and he does not discount a similar shock result this weekend.
Their competition will come from the Aston Martin Racing Larbre team. Steve Zacchia, Gregor Fisken and Roland Berville start second in class after Zacchia set a time of 1m30.156s, just eight tenths off the pole time.
Dirck Werner set pole position time in the Farnbacher Racing Porsche that he will share with Pierre Ehret and Lars Erik Nielsen. His best time of 1m33.017s was three tenths of a second faster than newlycrowned champion Rob Bell, who qualified the JMB Racing Ferrari 430, shared with Ben Aucott and Philipp Peter.
The British driver will be watching out for the James Watt Automotive Porsche of Allan Simonsen, Richard Westbrook, Paul Daniels and Australian Bryce Washington. Daniels set ninth fastest time in class with a 1m34.547s.
Simonsen and Bell have shared the Virgo Motorsport Ferrari for the majority of the season, but the Dane missed Silverstone to compete in an Australian V8 Supercar race. Bell won at Silverstone with Gianmaria Bruni to move ten points clear of his former co-driver but, should Bell fail to score in Brazil and Simonsen win, they would again be level on points!
Xavier Pompidou qualified the Felbermayr Proton Porsche fourth in class after a mysterious switch from oversteer to understeer from the morning session to the afternoon qualifying, while the Spyker Squadron team was delighted with sixth place, achieved by Peter Kox.
The GPC Sport Ferrari of Fabrizio de Simone, Luca Drudi, Matteo Bobbi and Yves Lambert was an unhappy eighth having lost track time following an accident during Wednesday's night practice.