Posted by: porschebahn | April 2, 2011

Qualifying for Le Mans Series round 1 in Le Castellet, France

Grid positions one and two for Porsche in the GTE-Am class
A perfect start into the Le Mans Series for Nicolas Armindo: At the season-opener in Le Castellet, the Frenchman clinched the best time in qualifying in the newly-created GTE-Am sports car class at the wheel of his Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. In this class, only one professional driver is permitted per vehicle. In the 911 fielded by the Felbermayr-Proton team, Austria’s Horst Felbermayr Junior rounded off Porsche’s success. In the GTE-Pro class, Porsche works driver Marco Holzer (Germany), Richard Lietz (Austria) and Patrick Pilet (France) secured positions six to eight respectively with 2011-versions of the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

“I could jump for joy,” grinned Nicolas Armindo. “To start the LMS season with pole position in our class is simply fantastic. My fastest lap wasn’t even perfect. But our 911 GT3 RSR handles very well. And it’s also important that we’ve earned the first championship point.” The reigning champion of the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland drives for IMSA Performance Matmut with his compatriot and team owner Raymond Narac. Taking up the six hour race from second on the grid in the GTE-Am category for the Felbermayr squad is the father/son duo Horst Felbermayr Senior and Junior as well as team owner Christian Ried (Germany).

Patrick Pilet: “There is still a great deal of potential in the improved 911 GT3 RSR”

“I made a small mistake in the last corner during my flying lap, otherwise I could have set an even better time,” commented Marco Holzer as the quickest of the Porsche factory pilots on his sixth position in the GTE-Pro class. “Our team still has a lot of work ahead because our set-up was not exactly what we want.” The former Porsche-Junior shares driving duties in ProSpeed Competition’s 911 GT3 RSR with Belgian Marc Goossens.

Last year’s winner and title defender Richard Lietz seemed to take his seventh grid position in his stride. “Let’s see how things stand when the flag drops tomorrow at 6pm,” the Austrian said. “Obviously, the grid position is disappointing, especially after being faster in free practice. But we made a conscious decision not to make any extra changes for the qualifying session and instead concentrate on the race set-up. Hence, we experienced a little oversteer.” Lietz drives the first stint from midday tomorrow before handing the cockpit of the Felbermayr-Proton 911 to Marc Lieb (Germany). With four drivers’ titles under his belt, Lieb in the most successful pilot in the Le Mans Series.

Tackling the race on the 5.791 kilometre circuit Paul Ricard in southern France from eighth on the grid are the two Porsche works drivers Patrick Pilet and Wolf Henzler (Germany) driving for IMSA Performance Matmut. Pilet is feeling confident: “There is still a great deal of potential in the improved 911 GT3 RSR that we haven’t tapped yet. I’m counting on our strong points over the race distance and on my new teammate Wolf Henzler.”

Qualifying result

GTE-Pro class
1. Gianmaria Bruni (I), Ferrari F458 Italia, 1:58.522 minutes
2. Tomas Enge (CZ), Aston Martin Vantage, + 0.251 seconds
3. Robert Bell (GB), Ferrari F458 Italia, + 0.597
4. Toni Vilander (FIN), Ferrari F458 Italia, + 0.622
5. Allan Simonsen (DK), Ferrari F458 Italia, + 0.722
6. Marco Holzer (D), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 0.722
7. Richard Lietz (A), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 0.933
8. Patrick Pilet (F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 0.935

GTE-Am class
1. Nicolas Armindo (F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 1:59.370 minutes
2. Horst Felbermayr Junior (A), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 0.984 seconds
3. Marco Cioci (I), Ferrari F430, + 1.100
4. Philipp Peter (A), Ferrari F430, + 1.328

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