Alessandro Balzan uses home advantage to claim pole position
Stuttgart. The Porsche fans in the Autodromo Nazionale celebrated Alessandro Balzan: The local hero takes off into the ninth round of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup from pole position at Sunday’s race in Monza, the last before the season finale in Abu Dhabi. At the wheel of his 450 hp Ebimotors Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, which is based on the lightweight 911 GT3 R street sports car, the guest driver from the Porsche Carrera Cup Italia posted a sensational best time in qualifying. With an average of 188.461 kph, he not only set a new Supercup record, but was also four-tenths of a second faster than his strongest rival René Rast (Germany). The title defender and points’ leader planted his VELTINS Lechner Racing 911 GT3 Cup on the first grid row in his final fast lap, relegating the strong Supercup newcomer of Hermes Attempto Racing, Kévin Estre (France), to the third grid spot.
Britain’s Sean Edwards (Team Abu Dhabi by tolimit), who in second overall still holds excellent chances to claim the title, secured a good starting position for the race with the fourth quickest time on the tradition-steeped circuit in the Royal Park. Starting directly behind him is his teammate Jeroen Bleekemolen, the double Supercup champion from the Netherlands, ahead of Austria’s Norbert Siedler (VELTINS Lechner Racing) in the sixth position. Occupying seventh is Poland’s Kuba Giermaziak (VERVA Racing Team), the winner of the Budapest and Spa rounds. Ranking third in the standings, Giermaziak is another favourite in the small circle of title aspirants. Starting alongside the Pole on the fourth grid row is Denmark’s Nicki Thiim (SANITEC Aquiles MRS Racing), a guest starter from the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland. Rounding off the top ten on the grid is last year’s winner from Great Britain Nick Tandy (Konrad Motorsport), who experienced a disappointing qualifying which very likely robs him of his small chance to clinch the title. Next to him on the tenth grid spot is Sebastiaan Bleekemolen (Team Bleekemolen) from the Netherlands.
Alessandro Balzan (pole sitter): “I’m of course very pleased with my pole position. This is just my first Supercup race this year and I’m not as familiar with the car and above all the brakes as the other drivers. Still, I already had a good feeling after free practice, mostly because we found a good brake balance. During qualifying I didn’t go flat out right from the first lap, but warmed up my tyres gradually and waited for my chance. When I saw I had a free lap I went for it and set the best time with my first set of rubber.”
René Rast (second in qualifying): “That was a very difficult qualifying, so I’m very satisfied with my second place. With the first set of tyres I simply didn’t manage a decent time, but then everything came together with the second set. Now I’m hoping for a good race and I’m already looking forward to the finale in Abu Dhabi.”
Kévin Estre (third in qualifying): “My third place is a very good starting position for the race, especially here in Monza. We’re happy with this result, most of all because things didn’t go so well for us recently in Spa. I now hope we can do as well in the race, and perhaps I can bring home my first podium result in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup.”
1. Alessandro Balzan (I), Ebimotors, 1:50.658 minutes
2. René Rast (D), VELTINS Lechner Racing, + 0.399 seconds
3. Kévin Estre (F), Hermes Attempto Racing, + 0.412
4. Sean Edwards (GB), Team Abu Dhabi by tolimit, + 0.426
5. Jeroen Bleekemolen (NL), Team Abu Dhabi by tolimit, + 0.469
6. Norbert Siedler (A), VELTINS Lechner Racing, + 0.586
The race on Sunday is broadcast live by TV stations Eurosport (11.45 hrs) and Sky Sport 2 (11.40 hrs). Eurosport also televises highlights on Sunday at 20.15 hours in its “Motorsport Weekend Magazin” programme.
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