Le Mans Series, round 2 in Spa-Fracorchamps, Belgium
Very nice! Very happy to see the Porsche GT3 RSR’s leading a quartet of Ferrari. Porsche ususally have some legs at Spa.
Porsche teams have made their mark at the second round of the Le Mans Series. At his first race of the season, Casper Elgaard (Denmark) turned the fastest qualifying time with the Porsche RS Spyder sports prototype, half a second ahead of the second qualifier on the 7.004 kilometre circuit of Spa-Francorchamps. In the production-based GT2 class a one-two was achieved in qualifying. Season-opening winner Marc Lieb (Germany) qualified his 911 GT3 RSR on pole, with his Porsche works driver colleague Patrick Pilet (France) rounding off the top performance with second. The 1,000 kilometre race on the legendary circuit in the Ardennes gets underway tomorrow with a total of 51 competitors at 12.50 pm and is contested over 143 laps or a maximum of six hours.
‘To claim pole at our first race of the season is fabulous,’ said Casper Elgaard, who shares driving duties with his compatriot Kristian Poulsen and Porsche works driver Emmanuel Collard (France) driving for the Danish Essex team. ‘The whole crew are thrilled that our preparation work has paid off. And we’re twice as pleased because last year we often came second best to the Dutch RS Spyder team,’ said Elgaard. ‘For us, Spa is firstly a preparation race for the Le Mans 24 Hours. So in this respect we have extra motivation to win tomorrow.’ For 31-year-old Casper Elgaard this marked the first pole position with the RS Spyder in the Le Mans Series.
Emmanuel Collard was also pleased. The Frenchman was one of the winning trio in the RS Spyder at the 2008 Sebring 12 hour race and this season contests the FIA GT Championship in a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. ‘It’s great fun to be back at the wheel of the sports prototype, and particularly on such a quick circuit. You really don’t want to get out of the car and hand it over to the next driver. Unfortunately, due to the changeable weather conditions yesterday and my off in free practice, we didn’t have enough time to set-up the car perfectly. But the RS Spyder has such great balance that it didn’t disadvantage us.’
A change in the regulations for 2009 stipulates a smaller rear wing. To balance the reduced downforce at the rear, the Le Mans configuration from last year has been fitted to the front, which generates lower downforce. The RS Spyder’s 3.4 litre V8 engine is fitted with a smaller air-restrictor and delivers 440 hp instead of 476.
German works driver Marc Lieb was also satisfied with the GT2 class pole position, despite some things not going to plan. Due to a break in the qualifying after an opponent left the track, he was forced to abandon his flying lap. ‘So our tyres weren’t at their peak,’ said Lieb. ‘But we’re of course very pleased with our top time. After all, this earns us one point towards the championship. That’s why we simulated a qualifying lap during free practice to go into the final qualifying well prepared.’ Lieb and his colleague at the German Felbermayr-Proton team, works driver Richard Lietz (Austria), hold the points’ lead after winning the season-opener in Barcelona. In Spa the squad also have support from Horst Felbermayr Sen. (Austria) with the #77 911. ‘Yesterday we lost a great deal of time due to the weather conditions and a gearbox problem,’ said Richard Lietz. ‘So we will use the warm-up tomorrow morning to fine tune the race set-up. Our basis set-up though has already been done for the race.’
The French Porsche works driver Patrick Pilet, who competes for the IMSA Performance Matmut team (France) with his compatriot Raymond Narac, is happy with second on the grid. ‘Marc was just that bit better today and you have to acknowledge that. But we take off from a great starting position – and the race runs over 1,000 kilometres. Our 911 handles well, so our aim is to bring home a podium result.’ The Belgian Prospeed Competition team with drivers Paul Daniels (Great Britain) and Markus Palttala (Finland) start from tenth on the grid. The second Felbermayr team with Christian Ried (Germany), Horst Febermayr Jr. (Austria) and Francisco Cruz Martins (Portugal) start from 14th in the GT class.
Eurosport broadcasts the start from 12.45 to 13.15 hours and the final race hour from 18.00 to 19.00 hours live.
Result Qualifying LMP2:
1. Casper Elgaard (DK), Porsche RS Spyder, 2.07.918 minutes
2. Xavier Pompidou (F), Lola B08/80 Coupé – Judd, + 0.528 seconds
3. Matteo Bobbi (I), Lola B08/80 Coupé – Judd, + 0.682
4. Olivier Pla (F), Ginetta-Zytek 09S – Zytek, + 0.932
5. Karim Ojjeh (SAU), Zytek 07S – Zytek, + 1.408
6. Fernando Rees (BR), Zytek 07S – Zytek, +1.744
7. Matthieu Lahaye (F), Pescarolo-Mazda, + 3.326
8. Tristan Gommendy (F), WR-Zytek, + 3.956
Result Qualifying GT2
1. Marc Lieb (D), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 2.21.870 minutes
2. Patrick Pilet (F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 0.142 seconds
3. Jaime Melo (BR), Ferrari F430 GT, + 0.828
4. Robert Bell (GB), Ferrari F430 GT, + 1.278
5. Pierre Kaffer (D), Ferrari 430 GT, + 1.362
6. Andrea Montermini (I), Ferrari F430 GT, + 1.786
7. Jonny Cocker (GB), Aston Martin Vantage GT2, +1.824
8. Dominik Farnbacher (D), Ferrari F430 GT, + 1.888
9. Peter Dumbreck (GB), Spyker C8 Laviolette GT2-R + 3.218
10. Markus Palttala (FIN), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 4.490