For the first time in his career, Austria’s Philipp Eng sits on pole position in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. At the season-opening round in Barcelona, he managed to snatch the fastest qualifying time by a very slim margin. Driving for Team Project 1, the 24-year-old pilot set his top time on the Circuit de Catalunya in the first minutes. “Everything ran perfectly in the car. I’m thrilled with my first ever Supercup pole position,” said Eng. Lining up alongside him on the front grid row, a mere 18-thousandths of a second shy of the pole-sitter, is Porsche Scholarship driver Earl Bamber (NZ/Fach Auto Tech). Occupying the second grid row are Michael Ammermüller (D/Lechner Racing Team) and guest driver Come Ledogar (F/PRO GT by Alméras). In one of the closest qualifying sessions in the history of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, the fastest nine drivers were within only two-tenths of a second.
When the 26 pilots went out in their 460 hp Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 991) race cars, they initially benefited from rubber left on the track by the Formula 1 vehicles. Eng grabbed the chance and immediately turned the fastest time with 1:50.664 minutes. The optimal use of the two available sets of tyres determined the following grid spots. At first no driver managed to beat the times of the early laps, but eight minutes before the qualifying session ended, Bamber made the most of the maximum grip of his second set of fresh tyres. “That was tough work. I made a few mistakes on the first set of rubber. I told my team not to worry and that I’d make it to the front. I kept calm and now I’m on the first grid row,” explained the defending champion of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia. As the winner of the Porsche Motorsport International Cup Scholarship, Bamber is supported in his 2014 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup campaign this season with funding of 200,000 Euro. At a selection process in autumn last year, he beat seven other top pilots from worldwide one-make series.
The international driver line-up with competitors from 13 countries demonstrated the competitiveness with the first 18 pilots qualifying within one second. The fifth quickest time went to Porsche Junior Klaus Bachler (A/Konrad Motorsport), however a violation during free practice saw the Austrian shuffled another three places down the grid. “Only 13-hundredths of a second gap to the pole-sitter – I’m happy with that. We’ll manage that one-tenth as well and I’m looking forward to the race on Sunday.” A great performance as well from Jeffrey Schmidt (CH/Lechner Racing Team): After turning heads as the fastest in free practice, the 20-year-old posted his best qualifying result in the Supercup by now with sixth.
The eighth grid spot is occupied by Porsche junior Alex Riberas (E/Mc Gregor powered by Attempto Racing), who also drove under yellow on Friday which cost him three grid positions. “Our suspension set-up was good and towards the end of the qualifying I managed two perfect sectors. I was even on course for pole, but someone got in the way and that was the end of my top time,” said the 20-year-old local hero from Barcelona.
Porsche junior Connor de Phillippi (USA/Förch Racing by Lukas Motorsport) takes up Sunday’s sprint from ninth place: “I knew that the qualifying session would be tight. The lap was good, but not as good as my pole position last weekend at the Porsche Carrera Cup in Hockenheim. Porsche junior Sven Müller (D/Team Project 1) secured the 16th spot on the grid. “It would have been better if everything had run perfectly when I first went out, but I simply lack the experience in my first season of GT racing. But that’s why I’m here. I regard the fact that everyone is so incredibly close together as being a good chance for my first Supercup race,” said the 22-year-old German.
The race on Sunday over 14 laps (64.778 km) is broadcast live on TV stations Eurosport (11.45 hrs) and Sky (11.45 hrs).
1. Philipp Eng (A/Team Project 1), 1:50.664 min.
2. Earl Bamber (NZ/Fach Auto Tech), 1:50.682
3. Michael Ammermüller (D/Lechner Racing Team), 1:50.685
4. Come Ledogar (F/PRO GT by Alméras), 1:50.762
5. Klaus Bachler (A/Konrad Motorsport), 1:50.792
6. Jeffrey Schmidt (CH/Lechner Racing Team), 1:50.798
7. Christian Engelhart (D/Konrad Motorsport), 1:50.828
8. Alex Riberas (E/Mc Gregor powered by Attempto Racing), 1:50.844
9. Ben Barker (GB/VERVA Lechner Racing Team), 1:50.885
10. Connor de Phillippi (USA/FÖRCH Racing by Lukas Motorsport), 1:51.006
16. Sven Müller (D/Team Project 1), 1:51.363
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