FIA GT3: Final round in Zandvoort with Saudi Abdulaziz Al Faisal a contender for the European Championship crown
Zandvoort, 14 October 2011 – At the end of day of the final weekend of the 2011 FIA GT3 European Championship it was the nr24 Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo of Albert von Thurn und Taxis and Nikolaus Meyr-Melholf which set the fastest time of the day, in the first Free Practice session. In Free Practice 2 it was the Heico Motorsport Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG of Patrick Hirsch and Christiaan Frankenhout which was faster by just 0.004s but four tenths slower than the earlier session’s best time.
Free Practice 1
Double race winner Albert von Thurn und Taxis posted a time of 1:39.415 in the nr24 Reiter Engineering Lamborghini. The German driver was just 0.078s faster than the nr4 Graff Racing Mercedes Benz SLS of championship contender Philippe Giauque and new co-driver Thomas Jaeger. The nr 46 AEVITAE Bleekemolen Racing Porsche of Zandvoort specialists Ronald and Dennis Van de Laar was 3rd quickest, the Father and Son team setting a time of 1:41.095.
Championship leaders Francesco Castellacci and Federico Leo were 8th fastest in the nr50 AF Corse Ferrari 458.
Free Practice 2
Patrick Hirsch was joined by Dutchman Frankenhout as a last minute replacement for Filip Sladecka in the nr45 Heico Motorsport Mercedes after the Slovakian was too ill to drive this morning. Hirsch posted a best time of 1:40.382, just 0.004s ahead of Championship leaders Federico Leo and Francesco Castellacci in the nr50 AF Corse Ferrari and 0.075s ahead of the Faster Racing by DB Motorsport BMW Z4 of Nick Catsberg and Harrie Kolen.
Championship contenders Philippe Giauque and Mike Parisy were 4th and 5th respectively in the nr4 and nr3 Graff Racing Mercedes SLS, just 0.1s behind the leading car. The top 19 cars were separated by less than one second.
The two LMP Motorsport Aston Martin DBRS9s missed both Free Practice sessions after engine problems left both cars on the sidelines and the mechanics working hard to find the fault. It also leaves championship contenders Maxime Martin and Gael Lesoudier with no track time before tomorrow’s qualifying.
Championship Contenders Scramble for FIA Glory
The 20 drivers who are capable of winning the 2011 FIA GT3 European title got to see the trophy they will win should they have the most points on Sunday afternoon after the final race of the season.
With a maximum of 50 points available from the two races this weekend, the drivers who can win the 2011 title are –
Francesco Castellacci / Federico Leo (97 points)
Mike Parisy / Philippe Giauque (83 points)
Maxime Martin / Gael Lesoudier (81 points)
Jeroen den Boer / Hoevert Vos (79 points)
Greg Franchi / Enzo Ide (75 points)
Edward Sandström / Abdulaziz Al Faisal (75 points)
Csaba Walter / Claudia Huertgen (74 points)
Dominik Baumann / Brice Bosi (67 points)
Nikolaus Meyr-Melholf / Albert von Thurn und Taxis (62 points)
Nick Catsburg / Harrie Kolen (50 points)
In the Team Championship it is a battle of the BMW teams with Need for Speed Team Schubert holding a 21-point advantage over Faster Racing by DB Motorsport. But with a maximum of 86-points available from the final two races there are five other teams still capable of challenging for the 2011 title.
2009 Champion Returns
After a successful season racing in Germany, 2009 FIA GT3 European Champion Christopher Haase returns to the championship to race with race winner Enzo Ide and Belgian Audi Club Team WRT this weekend. The 24-year-old driver (pictured left) won the 2009 championship at the wheel of a Phoenix Racing Audi R8 with fellow German Christopher Mies.
Christopher Haase said: “I am happy about the opportunity to support team WRT and Enzo (Ide) in the FIA GT3 European Championship in the Audi. WRT is a great team, they do an excellent job and have won several times. We want to score as many points as possible.
“The track in Zandvoort is new for me. I have prepared myself by analysing videos and I want to walk the track to get to know it better.
“In November I will support team DKR www-discount.de in a Lamborghini Murcielago 670 R-SV in South America. It is a great opportunity for me and I want to thank the team for making it possible for me”.
FIA GT3 Schedule
Qualifying for Rounds 11 and 12 of the 2011 FIA GT3 European Championship will take place at 10:05 on Saturday 15 October with Round 11 due to start in the afternoon at 15:45.
Round 12 will take place on Sunday 16 October at 13:15