NEWS ON RADIO
David Saelens (B), PMSC Bahrain 2006
David Saelens beats Uwe Alzen to
pole by one-hundreth of a second
with Next Car,
12th March, 2006
The qualifying session for the first round of the 2006 Porsche Michelin Supercup yielded a close result on the Bahrain International Circuit. Belgium's David Saelens turned the quickest lap in 2m:03.864 minutes on the 5.412 kilometre Grand Prix track. With this time, the Monaco-resident and third place-holder in last year's Porsche Michelin Supercup relegated Uwe Alzen from Germany to second on the grid. A gap of just one-hundreth of a second separates the two Ex-DTM drivers.
Trailing the pole-sitter by only four-hundreths of a second, Britain's Richard Westbrook posted the third fastest qualifying time. At his inaugural Supercup race in Bahrain last year, Westbrook secured pole position, the fastest race lap as well as victory. Richard Lietz from Austria achieved the fourth position on the grid, 24-hundreths of a second ahead of Patrick Huisman (Netherlands), with Jan Seyffarth (Germany) yielding sixth in qualifying, nine-thousandths of a second in arrears of Huisman. At 19, Seyffarth is the youngest competitor in the field.
Of the thirty Porsches to take up the session, 14 drivers qualified within 0.8 seconds of the pole-setting time. Amongst them was ex-Formula 1 driver Luciano Burti (Brazil) in tenth starting position, separated from the pole time by just four-tenths of a second. Bad luck plagued Germany’s Christian Menzel who secured third in Bahrain last year: The current champion of the Carrera Cup Deutschland was sidelined after only nine laps with a faulty gearshift sensor. Menzel settled for ninth, four-tenths of a second behind Saelens. Nicolas Armindo (France), who traveled to Bahrain as vice-champion of the national series behind Menzel, rolled into the pits during the ninth lap with an electrical problem.
Alessandro Zampedri (Italy), current champion of the Porsche Michelin Supercup, was forced to pit after four laps with gearbox damage. He takes up Sunday's race from 26th position.
Bad luck for guest driver Damian Faulkner (Ireland). The current champion of the Carrera Cup Great Britain and his Lechner Racing School Team did not find an optimal set-up and a disappointed Damian had to settle for 14th on the grid.
On Friday evening the Porsche Michelin Supercup opened its 14th race season as support to Formula 1 World Championship with a exhibition practice. A backdrop of the setting desert sun presented press photographers and fans with a new and fascinating aspect on the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. At the end of the practice many motorsport enthusiasts took the chance to experience the racing sports cars up close in the pitlane.
David Saelens (pole sitter): "I'm not completely happy with my fastest lap - it could have been better. But we have been the fastest all weekend. With 30 cars on the track you're bound to run into traffic. For the series and the spectators a full field is fantastic - for us it's tough."
Uwe Alzen (second qualifier): "I'm delighted to start from the front row. After setting my fastest lap I ran-in my fresh set of tyres for tomorrow's race and waited. Let's see what I can do about David over the race distance tomorrow (Sunday)."
Richard Westbrook (third): "We are a new team, so we're learning. The car was not perfect but I did what was possible today. The longer the session, the slower the track becomes because we are taking off the rubber left by the Formula 1 cars."
Richard Lietz (fourth): "We have been successful in implementing our tactic this weekend which makes me optimistic. This year's competition in the series is incredibly hard. I reckon there are at least ten drivers here who could win races. Great for fans, a challenge for us."
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