Peugeot and BMW on pole at Zhuhai, China
Peugeot has dominated practice since Friday and Anthony Davidson drove this home by bagging pole in LM P1. In LM GTE Pro, Jörg Müller’s fastest time has kept BMW’s title hopes alive.
Davidson again proved that when it comes to flying laps he’s the expert! He showed it again today with a time of 1m 21.769s just 7/100s quicker than team-mate Stephane Sarrazin. Peugeot has locked out the front row for tomorrow’s Zhuhai 6 Hours.
Yet again since the start of practice on the Chinese circuit Audi suffered in comparison with their main rivals as has been the case throughout the 2011 ILMC. The gap closed as they racked up the kilometers, but the German LM P1 prototypes still finished qualifying behind the Sochaux cars. But, as Davidson warned afterwards, the battle in the final round of the year will be an intense no-holds-barred one.
Although Peugeot has already won the LM P1 manufacturers’ and teams’ titles, a victory in China is just as vital for the PSA Group’s team as it is for the VAG Group (see below).
In keeping with the scenario in free practice the Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota of Jani-Prost is fifth on the grid behind the four diesel-engined cars, in front of the OAK Racing Pescarolo-Judd driven by Pla-Premat-Nicolet. There will be a ding-dong scrap between these two teams in the Zhuhai 6 Hours, both of which are in sparkling form as the season draws to a close.
Thanks to Jörg Müller’s pole BMW has scored another point in the LM GTE Pro Manufacturers’ Championship chase. The German firm’s two cars are in first and third places on the grid split by Giancarlo Fisichella’s Ferrari F458 Italia GTC. As is the case for the manufacturers entered in LM P1, victory in China is of capital importance for both BMW and Ferrari, and the Italian firm is hoping to score its second consecutive ILMC title by winning the final round.
For the first time this season the CRS Ferrari F430 GT took pole in LM GTE Am thanks to a stunning performance by British driver Tim Mullen, who is not one of the team’s regulars in this car.
Two other categories running outside the ILMC classification have been accepted for the Zhuhai 6 Hours: GTCs and FLMs. In free practice the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG was quicker than the Audi R8 LMSs in GTC, but in qualifying Mika Häkkinen was beaten by Edoardo Mortara and Carlo Van Dam.
The only FLM in the race was qualified by young Chinese driver Zhang Shanqi, who is very popular with his fellow-countrymen.
The start of the Zhuhai 6 Hours will be given tomorrow, Sunday 13th November 2011, at 11h00 (04h00 in France). This race is the last in the short history of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, which will be replaced next year by the FIA World Endurance Championship.