Detailled report Qualifying session
The Qualifying session
The 24-hour qualifying session gave us new car to watch as Peter Schmidt in the No. 2 CC Car Collection 997 GT3 Cup jumped into the immediate lead with a 1:55.695. This put him at the head of the A6 class aswell, of course, but definitely under threat from another Porsche, the No. 5 car of Marco Zolin-Meyer.
Although this car is also entered by the same German team as the overall leader, it is running in the all-Porsche 997 class.
The free practice leading McLaren did not participate in the earlier part of qualifying, seemingly leaving the contest to a web of Porsches. However, that changed
when Miguel Toril pawed to the top in the Russian Bears Prancing Horse. Morien was again quick in the early going with the No. 12 Renault Megane.
There are also two Silhouettes here from GC Automobiles and French veteran driver Bernard Salam moved the No. 15 5-liter special well into the top ten.
Another car among the front-runners was the No. 21 Marcos Racing Lotus Evora of Jim Briody. While far from the fastest car out there, the team is known
for being one of the most seasoned and tenacious endurance teams in the sport. Last year they were third overall in the Silverstone 24 Hours.
We wish a speedy recovery to team principal and 24 Hour series family member Cor Euser. The multiple Dutch national champion and international
sports car star was hurt when his Marcos had a very bad crash about six weeks ago. He is here and looks good, but clearly needs lots of time to fully recover.
Toril reset the fast lap time at about the 25-minute mark, but this was almost matched-almost immediately by Tim Mullen in the first flying lap for
the No. 4 McLaren. The session was interrupted with a red flag for retrieving the damaged No. 44 Mini of Czech driver Ivo Ragan (SIG Motorsport entry).
This created a 15-minute delay during which many of the teams swapped to their second drivers. The last of the cars under two minutes, could not
have been any closer to two minutes, with a time of 1:59.999. This was the A5 class leading Tischner Motorsport BME E46 M3. While the Sunred Seat
had lead the class easily during practice, when it all mattered it was the other Russian Bears Motorsport entry, the No. 32 Seat, that took the A3T class lead.
The A2 class is often the slowest in the field, but the No. 42 Besaplast Mini negated this notion with not only the class lead but a fine 18th overall—however,
it did spend some time in the gravel trap. Such was the pace in A2 that the often quicker A4 class was a few spots back at this juncture, the class being led
by the no. 28 Ymor Racing BMW Z3 M Coupe.
Just as the first half of qualifying closed, Tim Mullen upped the ante with a 1:53.427 to put the No. 3 McLaren back at the front of the field. This was followed
by a very, very brief red flag. Unfortunately, almost immediately there was another interuption when some poor unfortunate car deposited all of its liquid innards
at Turn 2. It may have been the previously quick No. 24 Tischner Motorsport BMW.
For those not familiar with the 24 Hour series, here is a quick digest of the classes. They are governed by a sliding scale that combines displacement limits,
fuel tank capacity limits, weight, and air restrictors. The points below highlight the engine and tank size characteristics:
A3T, to 2.6 turbos, 80-120 liters per refuelling, depending upon exact engine size
A4, 3.0 N/A, 120 liters
A5, 3.5 N/A, 120 liters
D1, turbo diesels to 2.0 liters, 80-100 kiters
996, as the class title indicates, older Porsches only 3600cc and 120 liters of fuel
997, the new Porsches up to 3.8 liters of engine and 90 of fuel.
The SP2 and SP3 classes are similar to GT3 and GT3 elsehwhere but also include the quasi-prototype Silhouettes. Their rules are governed by reference
or “break-out” times as well as minimum weight and fuel capacity limits. Cars cannot run faster than the reference time for their weight / fuel formula without
being subject to increasingly harsh time penalties during the race.
As with most races there are various ancillary prizes. One particular one at Barcelona should be near and dear for many readers. It is the Godia Prize which
goes to the best placed team having a mean age of drivers above 45!
The session resumed after about another 15 minute delay. Although the air was now cooler (it was nearly 30 degrees midday) relatively few cars dropped
their times early during this last sub-session, as the lingering oil on the track was still an issue.
A car that did improve substantially was the No. 7 ARC Bratislava Porsche. One cylinder was in dodgy condition causing them to miss practice and the first
part of qualifying but team leader Miro Konopka quickly had the car into the top 15 once it got going. Then Creventic principal Ivo Breukers moved it up
the ladder further, very nearly breaking the two-minute barrier. The lone American iron in the field, the No. 17 Guttroff Team Corvette began to live up to the great
car’s potential once Peter Bonk reeled off a series of laps leaving the car tenth on the grid. Bonk is known for fielding his own team, which has another car here,
the No. 18 SP3 class BMW M3. The crew of Bonk Motorsport is also supporting the Corvette.
Another driver with a solid late qualifying was Adam Hayes in the all-English No. 25 BMW of Intersport Racing, although their time was initially not all that
competitive within the A5 class. However, the team found some more muscle as about 10 minutes later Kevin Clarke had the car into the low 2-minute range,
second in class.
Two drivers offering some late period action were Marco Zolin-Meyer in the No. 5 CC Car Collection Porsche and endurance veteran Duncan Huisman
in the No. 12 Renault Megane Trophy Silhouette. Both moved their cars into the 1:54 category. Indeed, unlike free practice where the McLaren had a three-second
edge on the field, qualifying left the top two cars within a few tenths of each other and the third place car was only a second further back.
There was another interruption, although this one was dealt with only a Code 60 procedure—that is the Creventic series’ unique system of commanding the field
to slow without the intervention of a safety car. Again there was debris on the track but apparently not enough for some of the top runners to take advantage of the
cooling evening temperatures coming just past 20:00. Maurizio Mediani, now in the Russian Ferrari, and Marco Zolin-Meyer in the No. 5 Porsche both improved their
1:54-ish times but without improvement in position. However, on the very next lap, Mediani turned up the wick, found a gap without traffic, a clean track ahead, and
turned in a mighty 1:53.144. This put the Ferrari at the very top of the field.
Mediani stopped for fresh rubber and on the first flyer reset the quick time—and reset he did—fully TWO SECONDS quicker than the previous round. As the
checkered flag approached his best time stood at 1:51.051. The McLaren had pitted earlier and thus was not in a position to respond. It was left nearly two seconds
in arrears after Mediani’s dramatic run. Indeed, even the No. 12 Renault had recovered from an indifferent middle period of qualifying and Huisman placed the car
on the front row with a 1:52.852. For that matter, Mediani was not quite done. On his penultimate lap, he took another 5-thousandths off the mark.
The grid thus has a Ferrari-Renault front row, with the McLaren next in line—the Renault holding the SP2 class pole. Then follows no less than four Porsches in
two different classes, the quickest being the No. 5 997 class car with which Zolin-Meyer had a solid steady evening—exactly what one wants going into a
24-hour race. Another late charge came from the No. 1 Seat which had languished a bit but returned to capture the A3T class lead. In addition to upholding Catalan
and Spanish honors, it is the highest placed Touring car in the field. Indeed, the little two-liter Seat is just a bit faster than the seven-liter Corvette! The top is rounded
out by the second of the four Silhouettes, being the GC (Gomez Competition) entry, No. 12, and then comes the remarkably fast No. 21 Lotus—which leads SP3.
A5 is led from 11th overall by the No. 24 Tischner Motorsport BMW. The A4 class has been headed throughout qualifying by the No. 28 Ymor / Bas Koeten BMW
(we assume that Ymor is a sponsor, not a reflection about someone disliking Bas Koeten!). The No. 46 Schirra Motoring Mini has been left atop A2, but only at
23rd overall. There are two other classes represented. The small diesels of D2 are represented at the front by the No. 55 SVDP Racing BMW. There is but one
older 996 class Porsche in the field, the MIG Racing entry, and it is mired very near the tail of the field.
The evening’s festivities are not quite done yet. There is a night practice period. While the times will not matter, all the drivers must demonstrate that they are
able to lap effectively in the darkness.
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