Friday 26 October 2012

First day of City Challenge action at Baku street circuit

First day of City Challenge action at Baku street circuit
City Challenge track action started at the 2.144 kilometres long street circuit in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, today, with free practice sessions for the City Challenge GT, Classic Grand Prix and the Ghymkhana City Drift categories. The fastest lap time in the GT class was established by Rob Bell/Alvaro Parente with the Hexis-McLaren MP4-12C GT3, who topped the time sheets in second free practice with 1:04,254 minutes. In the morning session, Vita4One-BMW Z4 duo Mathias Lauda/Frank Kechele had been fastest with a time of 1:05.947 minutes.
The first day of practice at the Baku street circuit provided the drivers with an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the temporary track. “Quite impressive what has been achieved here,” said ex-Formula 1 driver Jos Verstappen, who had his first experience of driving a GT3 car. However, spirits within the team were less upbeat after Jacques Villeneuve had an accident with the car in second free practice. “I wasn’t even going that fast, but I spun and hit the tyre barriers,” the Canadian ex- Formula 1 World Champion and Indy 500 winner commented. Vita4One team owner Michael Bartels couldn’t confirm rumours that the car was damaged beyond immediate repair. “We fear that the chassis is bent. Of course, we will try whatever we can do to get the car going again, but if there is the slightest risk, we will not do it. Safety is our utmost concern,” said the German. In first free practice, lap times of the first eight cars were within one second, with a nice mix of five different sports cars in the top ten. In the second session, the first seven cars were within one second, once again with five brands in the top ten.
Austrians Bernd Herndlhofer and Johann Ledermaier were the pace-setters in the two free practice sessions of the Classic Grand Prix category. Both driving a Dallara- Renault, they each set a fastest and a second-fastest time in one of the sessions. Dutchman Marijn van Kalmthout was third on both occasions, the best-placed driver of a Formula 1 car with his Benetton B197.
After the track action, tonight’s highlight will be the première of the ‘CoGo’ show in the event area, a one-hour cultural programme that has especially been produced for the City Challenge event. The motorsport programme continues tomorrow, Saturday, October 27th, with qualifying sessions and sprint races from 9.30 till 17.40 h. Sunday, October 28th, is the main race day, with warm-up sessions for all categories from 9.15 h, followed by a GT drivers’ parade at 12.00 h and races from 12.50 h till 17.15 h.

Source: Baku City Challenge Press.

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