Packed spectator grandstands were treated to a gripping qualifying session in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup in Austria’s Spielberg. Philipp Eng (A/Team Project 1) posted the fastest time on Saturday on the 4.326 kilometre circuit. At the wheel of his yellow Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, the 24 year old tackles round three on Sunday from pole position. Lining up alongside him on the second grid spot is Christian Engelhart (D/Konrad Motorsport). Porsche junior Sven Müller (D/Team Project 1) and Ben Barker (GB/VERVA Lechner Racing Team) share the second grid row on positions three and four respectively. “Pole position at my home Grand Prix means a great deal to me. Austria may be a small country, but we’re passionate about racing and you can feel that,” said Eng.
After the last race here in 2003, the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup returns to Spielberg with Formula 1. The redesigned circuit now demands the highest concentration from the 26 pilots during qualifying. With the names constantly changing at the top of the time sheet, Eng finally put in a devastating lap of 1:32.869 minutes, with five minutes of the session remaining for his rivals to undercut him. Engelhart pulled out all stops to set a time of 1:32.896 minutes, but was pipped to the pole by the Project 1 pilot by a mere 29-thousandths of a second. Behind them, Porsche junior Müller succeeded in achieving his best qualifying result by now with 1:33.064 minutes. “I drove at the absolute limit and almost lost my car. The adrenaline then spurred me on to turn a great lap,” said Müller.
In the very last lap, Ben Barker (GB/VERVA Lechner Racing Team) managed to push past his Polish teammate Kuba Giermaziak and snatch grid position four. “My best time came at the very last minute. My aim is to score a podium place in the race,” said a satisfied Barker. The winner of the International Cup Scholarship Earl Bamber (NZ/Fach Auto Tech) takes up the sprint from eighth. “This circuit is great for overtaking. This will be my ace card and I’m planning to use it in the race,” stated the 23-year-old New Zealander. Porsche junior Connor de Phillippi (USA/FÖRCH Racing by Lukas Motorsport) starts from eleventh: “Unfortunately it didn’t go very well. For the race I now just have to make the most out of it.” His junior colleague Alex Riberas (E/Mc Gregor powered by Attempto Racing) shares the grid row with de Phillippi in position twelve. “When I went all out for my fastest lap I encountered a yellow flag in the final sector. That was unlucky. I’m looking forward to the race, because as far as speed is concerned I can match the pace of the frontrunners,” explained Riberas.
Porsche junior Klaus Bachler (A/Konrad Motorsport) struggled with position 15. “We have to work on this. No one would be happy with this result,” said the local hero who lives just ten minutes from the race track. WRC champion and guest driver Sébastien Ogier (F/Team Project 1) yielded the 18th quickest time. The 26 pilots contesting the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup take up the 16-lap sprint on the hilly Austrian circuit in their 460 hp Porsche 911 GT3 Cup vehicles which are based on the lightweight 911 GT3 production sports car. Round three on Sunday is televised live from 11.35 hours on Sky Deutschland. Eurosport broadcasts the race live from 11.45 CEST.
1. Philipp Eng (A/Team Project 1), 1:32.869 minutes
2. Christian Engelhart (D/Konrad Motorsport), 1:32.898
3. Sven Müller (D/Team Project 1), 1:33.064
4. Ben Barker (GB/VERVA Lechner Racing Team), 1:33.129
5. Kuba Giermaziak (PL/VERVA Lechner Racing Team), 1:33.148
6. Jeffrey Schmidt (CH/Lechner Racing Team), 1:33.157
7. Michael Ammermüller (D/Lechner Racing Team), 1:33.247
8. Earl Bamber (NZ/Fach Auto Tech), 1:33.302
9. Clemens Schmid (A/Lechner Racing Team) 1:33.346
10. Christopher Zöchling (A/Konrad Motorsport), 1:33.376