Report: Qualifying Report, Algarve 2011

Ferrari and Mercedes Dominate Qualifying in Portugal

The first two qualifying sessions of the 2011 FIA GT3 European Championship saw Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz take top honours, with BMW being the only other manufacturer represented in the top 3 places for Rounds 1 & 2. 

On his international GT debut, former Formula 3 driver Francesco Castellacci took Pole Position in the first session in the nr50 AF Corse Ferrari 458 with a lap time of 1:45.722, 0.6 seconds faster than the Need for Speed Team Schubert BMW Z4 of Edward Sandstroem, with both drivers challenging for the top position in the final half of the 20-minute session.  Joakim Lambotte, in the nr4 Graf Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, was third quickest and will line up on the second row for this afternoon's race alongside the Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo of Nikolas Meyr-Melnhof.  The session was red flagged after only 4 minutes due to an accident when the nr 36 Faster Racing by DB Motorsport Aston Martin DBRS9 of Harrie Kolen hit the barrier at Turn 14.  The driver was taken to the medical centre for routine checks and the car was recovered before the session resumed.

In the second qualifying session it was Mike Parisy in the nr3 Graff Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG which took the top position with the fastest time of the two session of 1:45.514, 0.194s ahead of the MTECH Ferrari 458 Italia of Matt Griffin.  Castellacci's team mate Federico Leo will head the second row for Sunday's race in the nr50 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia, with a lap time of 1:45.860, 0.092s ahead of the Team LMP Motorsport Aston Martin DBRS9 of Maxime Martin.

Round 1 of the 2011 FIA GT3 European Championship will take place at 14:15 (local time) this afternoon and Round is at 11:15 on Sunday.

CLICK HERE for the result from Round 1 Qualifying

CLICK HERE for the result from Round 2 Qualifying 

Race 1 Qualifying
Francesco Castellacci,
Nr 50 AF Corse Ferarri 458 Italia:
“I’m really happy, it’s a great result. Thanks to the team. This is my first FIA GT3 race, after the past years in single seaters, so it’s a good start for sure. The qualifying was a bit tough at the beginning, since the conditions were a bit risky, the rain last night made the circuit very slippery, so I took a few laps to understand the circuit, and then the pole came.  The car is really, really good. The Ferrari guys did a really good job with the car. It’s just come out, there’s a lot to learn about it, but the start is already great.”

Edward Sandstroem
nr 6 Need for Speed Team Schubert BMW Z4 GT3:
 “BMW has made a tremendous effort this winter and produced a really fast race car. The team is always doing a very good job; I’m very pleased with them. Last year we had problems during qualifying to reach the top spot, and this year for sure, I feel we have the equipment to do it and it will be easier for me and my team mate Abdulaziz Al Faisal to do better racing.”

Joakim Lambotte
nr4 Graff Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3
“First of all, it’s very nice to be back. A press conference is always nice. The team made a good effort to prepare the car, because in my opinion, the Mercedes isn’t that competitive compared to the others. I think the balance of performance can be re-seen a bit. I think we did a nice lap in qualifying, and I’m happy to be here. It would be nice to be on first place, but I hope to be on the podium this afternoon; that’s our aim.”

Race 2 Qualifying
Mike Parisy
 nr3 Graff Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3
“My team Graff Racing and Mercedes did a very good job. I’m not sure that the Mercedes is the fastest car, but I did a very good lap without any mistakes. I have the pole, so I’m very proud and happy to offer Graff Racing and Mercedes, their first pole in FIA GT3. I think the race is going to be quite difficult, because we have to improve our setup, but it’s a good first race, and we will see next. The track here is very difficult, so I think it’s very good to be on the first line, and the start is special here, so I’m going to try and get a good start with my experience.

Matt Griffin
nr21 MTECH Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia
“Ferrari and Michelotto have done an excellent job with the car in quite a short space of time, and we’re starting with a very good package and it is a perfect car for GT3, because it’s a good car for the professionals and for the gentlemen drivers as well. I think it’s a fantastic car. I think this is my 4th time racing here, but this is MTECH’s first race here, and even though we entered Zolder last year, we didn’t actually do the races there, so this is our first FIA GT3 race, so to put it on the first row of the grid is good.

Federico Leo
nr50 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia
“Right at the end, I had a problem with another car, trying to overtake him, and went over the curb, that is very high for me, and I broke the suspension. I hope it will be fixed for the race. I’m happy with the car and the team. I’m happy to be where we are, because the rest of the grid is really quite fast. This is the first GT race of my life, as I came from Formula cars. I raced here 2 years ago with the World Series, so I knew the track.”

Subscribe:   Subscribe with small images:   Subscribe with medium images: