The third round of the FIA GT1 World Championship has got underway at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve with the Young Driver AMR Aston Martin leading the way in Free Practice and then in Pre Qualifying the All Inkl.com Münnich Motorsport Lamborghini Murcielago continues to be the pace setter for the third event running, setting the fastest lap recorded in the GT1 World Championship around the Portimao circuit.
In changes for round 3 of the FIA GT1 World Championship Christoffer Nygaard joins Vanina Ickx in the nr 9 Belgian Racing Ford GT, with Antoine Leclerc moving from the nr9 car he drove in Abu Dhabi to the nr10 Ford with Martin Matzke. Matteo Bobbi returns to the Championship, replacing Jaime Camara in the nr47 DKR Engineering Corvette. Yann Clairay replaces Frederic Makowiecki in the nr41 Marc VDS Racing Team Ford GT Matech for the Portuguese race.
In the opening track session of the weekend Stefan Mücke, in the nr8 Young Driver AMR Aston Martin DB9, set the best time during the last lap of Free Practice with a time of 1:42.736, just three thousandths of a second ahead of Maxime Martin in the nr 41 Marc VDS Racing Team Ford GT Matech. Martin’s team mate in the nr 40 Marc VDS Racing Team Ford GT Matech, Marc Hennerici, went 3rd fastest with his best time of 1:42.764, his time only 0.028 behind Martin. The top 8 cars set laps within 1 second of the leader.
All-Inkl Lamborghini continued their fine start to the season as the No.37 Murcielago of Dominik Schwäger and Nicky Pastorelli set the pace in Pre Qualifying at the Algarve. The duo, pole sitters in both Abu Dhabi and Zolder, rose to the fore with just five minutes remaining of Pre Qualifying - their time of 1m41.763s proving the fastest GT1 time set round the Portimao track.
Schwäger’s late effort demoted previous pacesetters Michael Krumm and Lucas Luhr in the No.23 JRM Nissan GT into second. With thirty minutes of the session to go Krumm had put the Nissan top with a storming effort more than a second clear of the rest of the field, but they were eventually pipped by Lamborghini and forced to settle for second - missing out by just 0.083s.
Luhr and Krumm's sister car, the No.22 JRM of Richard Westbrook and Peter Dumbreck, finished fourth fastest, behind the No.21 Sumo Power GT of Jamie Campbell-Walter and David Brabham - leaving Nissan with three representatives inside the top four.
Nicky Catsburg and Mike Hezemans finished fifth fastest in the No.11 Exim Bank Team China Corvette, ahead of the No.38 All-Inkl Lamborghini of Markus Winkelhock and Marc Basseng and the final Nissan, the No.20 Sumo Power GT of Ricardo Zonta and Enrique Bernoldi. Alex Muller and Tomas Enge finished as the highest placed Aston Martin, guiding the No.7 Young Driver DB9 to eighth fastest as the chequered flag fell.
Marc Hennerici and Bas Leinders meanwhile were the top Ford in the No.40 Marc VDS GT, although the duo were only able to complete nine laps - their session starting late and then being brought to a premature end following an incident through turn seven/eight complex.
The GT1 field will return to the circuit at 11:15 local time tomorrow for Qualifying, before the Qualifying Race commences later in the day at 17:15.
CLICK HERE for the result from Free Practice
CLICK HERE for the result from Pre-Qualifying
What the Drivers Say…
nr37 All-Inkl.com Münnich Motorsport Lamborghini Murcielago 670 R-SV
"Today was good, The car feels good on new tyres, now we just need to work a little bit more on the used tyres set-up for the race. We are really looking forward to actually finishing the race. Hopefully we can manage that and get some points.
nr21 Sumo Power GT Nissan GT-R
"We are still a bit off the pace. We didn't really run this morning as the guys needed a bit more time to work on the car after the accident in Zolder. So we are on the back foot slightly in terms of optimising the set-up. We are nearly in the sweet spot and hopefully we will find that little bit between now and Qualifying.
"We need the Sumo Power team to have a good result for the morale of the boys because they have worked very hard. There has been a lot of work behind the scenes. Even last night they didn't get back to the hotel until 5 o'clock in the morning. The knock-on effect of having too big crashes creates a lot of extra work and negativity so hopefully we can give the boys a positive result by the end of the weekend."
nr7 Young Driver AMR Aston Martin DB9
"We played with the car, we tried some different set-up configurations in preparation for the race. It's nice to be at the front but here in the Algarve the race will come down to tyres. Last year was the same. We need a decent Qualifying and a clean race and end up with some points and maybe even the podium."
Nr7 Young Driver AMR Aston Martin DB9
"This car is not so good around a circuit like this where you have a lot of slow first, second gear corners and a lot of heavy acceleration out of these corners. There are not enough high-speed corners where usually this car is good. But we have to deal with it like everyone else and find some improvement to qualify well and set ourselves up for the race."
Nr40 Marc VDS Racing Team Ford GT Matech
"We had a problem with the oil tank so we had to change a part in that which cost us half an hour. Then Marc went out and did a few laps and the times were not too bad but then he made a mistake and spun into the gravel. We didn't find a lot to imporove the car. We can see again that the Nissans and the Lambos are blindingly fast so we have some catching up to do."
Nr47 DKR Engineering Corvette Z06
"I am very happy to be back in the championship. For me it was the first time in the Corvette so we have some work to do. It's a great track, I've raced here before in GT1 in the past and LMS. It's very close racing and I'm sure it will be a good race. The other Corvette is a lot faster than us with the same car. We were close in Zolder so we have to analyse why we are not on their pace. Tomorrow and Sunday is what matters."
nr4 Hexis AMR Aston Martin DB9
"With the ups and downs the very fast and slow corners it is essential to get a good rhythm around here. Furthermore you have to watch you tyres to do a couple of good laps."
nr3 Hexis AMR Aston Martin DB9
"The track is quite new to me, so it's a big challenge. We want to score as many points as possible, again. We still have some extra weight in the car, so we have to be carefull with that. If we have a good race speed and a good pitstop, we can add some more points to our championship."
Info: Jeff carter/Media Delegate