Qualifying LMGTE: Porsche and Corvette affirm practice performance
The first part of qualifying for the LMGTE Pro and Am classes was a quiet affair as it was just the No.70 Corvette of Jean-Philippe Belloc which took to the track at the start of the session, the other competitors waiting in the pit lane, watching one another.
The quickest time for the Frenchman, 1:41.386, would never be equalled in LMGTE Am, thereby allowing the No.70 Larbre Compétition Corvette C6-ZR1 to start the race from class pole. The French team, which leads the championship, will have a full hand of cards to help them claim maximum points as its nearest rival will only be starting from third place. Just two tenths of a second were missing from Paulo Ruberti’s performance in the No. 88 Team Felbermayr-Proton Porsche 911 RSR in his attempt to grab second place on the grid. Instead, it was the No.57 Krohn Racing Ferrari 458 of Michele Rugolo which got nearest to the Corvette (1:41.701) and will start from the front row of the LMGTE Am grouping, all of which were separated by just 1.5 seconds.
Pole for the LMGTE Pro class was no less definitive as, from the moment he completed his first lap, Marc Lieb and the No.77 Team Felbermayr-Proton Porsche 911 RSR went to the top of the time sheets and never left it. The German driver set the fastest lap of the weekend with a 1:40.289, pushing down to second the No.51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia by more than three tenths despite all of Gianmaria Bruni’s considerable efforts, the Italian being a seasoned qualifier. The Roman battled to the end with the Vantage V8 of the No.97 Aston Martin Racing entry, second place on the grid changing hands on a lap by lap basis. Stefan Mücke eventually had to cede the position and be content with third in the category where AF Corse and Ferrari have already laid claim to championship titles.
Even if title honours have escaped them this year, Porsche and Aston Martin will go into battle tomorrow at 1100 hours, with nothing to lose, while the LMGTE Am runners will pursue their quest for the FIA Endurance Trophy.
Photo: OYAMA-CHO (SHIZUOKA PREFECTURE, JAPAN), FUJI INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY, 6 HOURS OF FUJI, SATURDAY, 13TH OCTOBER 2012, QUALIFYING. Marc Lieb and Jean-Philippe Belloc took pole positions for the LMGTE Pro and Am classes respectively.