Brno: Jet Alliance and CR Scuderia Gain Poles at Brno

CR Scuderia took GT2 Pole

With the weather in Brno bright and cold, as well as a new surface on the 5.403 km circuit, the qualifying times tumbled in the Czech Republic today, where the best time set by Karl Wendlinger was 2.5 seconds faster than the 2007 pole time. His Jetalliance Aston Martin DBR9 set a time of 1:51.675, a full second faster than the nr 6 Phoenix Carsport Racing Corvette C6R driven by Mike Hezemans.

Wendlinger’s pole position was the eighth of his FIA GT career, and his second of the season after Oschersleben. It was especially good for the team, as Brno, close to the Austrian border, is effectively Jetalliance’s home race. “The team did a very good job, they prepared the car very well, and we have been competitive all weekend,” the Austrian driver commented.

Hezemans was happy with second after struggling with understeer, although he was not expecting such a wide gap between himself and Wendlinger. “Still, I am surprised with second so I’m happy,” he said. “I think it will be close in the race tomorrow.”

Anthony Kumpen managed a season-best qualifying performance to take third in the PK Carsport Saleen S7R, setting a time of 1:52.849 and making three different makes in the top three. “Pirelli have done a fantastic job,” Kumpen added. “We did a lot of development work with them over the season and now it is paying off. And with third in qualifying, our perspectives for the race are really good.”

Weight proved to be the main issue today. With Bouchut fourth with the SRT Corvette, the top four cars were all without penalty weight, and the remaining cars were almost exactly ordered by their increasing penalty weights, from the nr 10 Gigawave Motorsport Aston Martin DBR9 on 5kg in 5th place down to the nr 1 Vitaphone Maserati MC 12, with 100 kg success ballast, in 10th position. It was always expected that weight would count for a lot on this track, with its uphill sections and heavy downhill braking, and many of the leading cars opted to concentrate on their race set-up.

RBImmo are back with their Saleen

With the new surface to the Brno circuit, times have radically come down compared to last year. “The new track surface means that there are no bumps any more, and the exit of some of the corners is wider, so you can get more speed out of the corners, which is most probably the reason why we are faster this year,” Karl Wendlinger explained.

In GT2, reigning Champion Dirk Müller returned to his Spa team of CR Scuderia and put the nr 56 Ferrari 430 GT2 on pole position. This was his 4th FIA GT pole, and a repeat of his 2007 Brno pole. It was a good result for the new British team, as Mullen put the second car in fourth. “The team gave me a brilliant car,” Müller commented. “Being on pole is a good sign for the race, so we are really looking forward to it. I am replacing Rob Bell this weekend, and he is on pole position in Silverstone, so I think it’s a really good day !”

Second position went to Richard Westbrook in the nr 61 Prospeed Competition Porsche. “This is a big improvement from last year, as this track does not really suit the Porsche. We were three seconds off pole last year, so I think this shows that we have come a long way. We thought we had the car to get pole today, but we got the tyre pressures a little wrong. Tomorrow is going to be very interesting : tyre wear is very important and we think we’re on top of that. We’re confident for tomorrow.”
Despite carrying 50 kg, points leader Gianmaria Bruni was third in the nr 50 AF Corse. “It is not like Bucharest – you notice the weight in the uphill and downhill braking. But generally I am very confident for the race, and Toni is right there on the pace – so we’ll see.” His team-mates, in the nr 51 Ferrari, were less fortunate. Their car was suffering from mechanical problems, which the team was not able to track down in time. Biagi left the pits just before the chequered flag and set a qualifying time, but he and Montanari will start from 26th position on the grid.

The sole G2 class competitor, Belgian Racing, put in a good session to qualify 24th. “Things are going quite well, this track suits us,” Bas Leinders said. “I’m ahead of some GT2 cars and our race pace should be good. If we can finish the race and keep the pace we had this afternoon we may have a really good result this afternoon.”