Posted by: porschebahn | August 1, 2009

Qualifying for Le Mans Series round 3 in Portugal

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Second straight pole position for the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR

At the third round of the Le Mans Series, Porsche again starts from pole position in the GT2 class. Works driver Richard Lietz (Austria) secured the top time in a gripping evening qualifying on the new “Autodromo Internacional do Algarve” race track in southern Portugal. Factory pilot Patrick Pilet (France) planted the second 911 GT3 RSR on fourth position, with Francisco Cruz Martins (Portugal) rounding off the 911-drivers’ good performances with sixth on the grid. The 1,000 kilometre race takes off on Saturday, 1st August, at 19.15 hours local time (20.15 CEST) and runs over 215 laps or a maximum of six hours. This is the second night race in the history of the LMS.

With 1.44.804 minutes on the 4.652 kilometre circuit, Richard Lietz’s pole-setting time was just 0.064 seconds faster than the second quickest. Simultaneously, he posted the best lap time of all qualifying sessions by now. After claiming two wins from two races, the 25-year-old Austrian holds the points’ lead in the GT2 drivers’ classification with Marc Lieb (Germany). The two compete for the German Felbermayr-Proton team. “That was close,” laughed Lietz. “Again, the competition in our class is tough. The performance of the cars is extremely close, but we’re well sorted with our 911 and the Michelin tyres. With daytime temperatures of almost 40 degrees Celsius we are glad to be racing at night. But you have to be so careful with 35 race cars on a track of just four and a half kilometres. The circuit has many tricky passages with all sorts of crests and blind corners, but again the darkness is an advantage because we can easily see the cars’ lights. In any case, it’ll be very, very exciting.”

Marc Lieb (29), who visits the race track for the first time that was inaugurated in 2008, believes: “For me it’s relatively easy to become familiar with the new track, not least because I have a great teacher in Richard. After all, he has already won a race. The wind that blows in from the Atlantic has a surprisingly strong effect on the handling. Depending on whether it is a head, tail or side wind we notice a difference in top speed of up to ten kilometres per hour. To set pole position for a 1,000 kilometre race is not decisive, but this year we receive extra points for the top time which is of course important in our title campaign.”

Raymond Narac: “We are looking forward the night race”

Patrick Pilet, who shares driving duties with his French compatriot Raymond Narac for the French IMSA Performance Matmut team, seemed pleased with his fourth in qualifying. “We concentrated on finding a set-up for the 1,000 kilometre marathon during free practice and we feel confident for the race,” said the 27-year-old. “It’s incredible how well the tyres perform despite the extremely high temperatures.” Narac added: “We are looking forward to the night race. It’ll certainly be a very special experience for all involved.”

Francisco Cruz Martins was totally enthusiastic. At only 22-years-old, the Portugiese turned the quickest qualifying time of the trio in the sister Felbermayr-911, which he shares with Christian Ried (Germany) and Horst Felbermayr Jr. (Austria). “Sixth in qualifying is fantastic,” grinned Cruz Martins. “The new race track is great for our country. I particularly like the fast and the blind corners.”

TV station “Eurosport” broadcasts the race on 1 August live from 20.00 to 21.30 hours and from 00.45 to 02.15 hours CEST.

Results Qualifying GT2

1. Richard Lietz (AUT), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 1.44.804 minutes
2. Gianmaria Bruni (ITA), Ferrari F430 GT, + 0.064 seconds
3. Antonio Garcia (ESP), Ferrari F430 GT, + 0.632
4. Patrick Pilet (FRA), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 0.940
5. Dominik Farnbacher (DEU), Ferrari F430 GT, + 1.004
6. Francisco Cruz Martins (PRT), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 1.276
7. Allan Simonsen (DNK), Ferrari F430 GT, + 1.576
8. Jonny Cocker (GBR), Aston Martin Vantage GT2, + 1.832
9. Cesar Campanico (PRT), Ferrari F430 GT, + 1.868
10. Gianpaolo Tenchini (ITA), Ferrari F430 GT, + 3.608

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