René Rast was again the man of the moment in a gripping qualifying: In the last lap on the drying Hockenheimring, the Lechner Racing pilot from Germany snatched pole position on Saturday for round seven of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in Hockenheim this weekend. At the wheel of his 450 hp Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, which is based on the road-legal lightweight 911 GT3 RS sports cars, the title defender pipped his compatriot Michael Ammermüller to the pole by just 18-thousandths of a second. For the strong Supercup newcomer, Ammermüller, who competes for the VELTINS Lechner Racing squad, this marks his best qualifying result so far this season.
In the cockpit of the VIP-911 fielded by Porsche AG, Nick Heidfeld put on a great show for fans. At the ex-Formula 1 pilot’s debut in the world’s fastest international one-make race series, Heidfeld demonstrated his skill on the wet track, and clocked times amongst the fastest. But when the circuit began to dry up over the course of the qualifying session, the Supercup specialists came into their own. Heidfeld takes up Sunday’s race on the 17th grid spot out of a 27-strong field.
Lining up on the second grid row behind points’ leader René Rast are two of his toughest rivals: Sean Edwards and Norbert Siedler. Driving for Konrad Motorsport, the Monaco winner from Great Britain posted the third quickest time, with VELTINS Lechner Racing pilot from Austria and winner of the two season-opening races in Bahrain just two-hundredths of a second slower. Christian Engelhart from Germany (Konrad Motorsport), pole-setter in Barcelona, as well as Nicki Thiim (Denmark), the Supercup rookie from Hermes Attempto Racing, sat close of the bumpers of the front-runners in fifth and sixth respectively. Only then did the gap to the leading pack increase. Poland’s Kuba Giermaziak (VERVA Racing Team), who started from pole position in Silverstone recently, shares the fourth grid row in seventh with a Supercup newcomer: Jeroen Mul from Team Bleekemolen again turned heads with his strong drive and qualified his 911 GT3 Cup in front of his compatriot and team boss Sebastiaan Bleekemolen, who secured ninth. Kévin Estre of Hermes Attempto Racing rounds off the top ten grid line-up.
The Porsche Juniors Klaus Bachler and Michael Christensen, who normally contest the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland, yielded quite different results in the very competitive field: Bachler from Austria (Team Deutsche Post by tolimit) clinched a mid-field spot in twelfth, with Denmark’s Christensen (Konrad Motorsport) starting from 25th after making the wrong tyre choice.
René Rast (pole-sitter): “That was a turbulent qualifying. I’m very pleased of course and I’m thrilled about my pole position and the two extra points towards the championship. When the sun came out towards the end the track dried up quickly and everyone went back out on the track again. Obviously I got the best point in time to do it. Now I’m heading into the race feeling very confident.”
Michael Ammermüller (2nd in qualifying): “I got a really good lap in towards the end, but it wasn’t easy because the track was only 90 percent dry at that time. There were still wet patches here and there so I never really knew how fast I could take the corners. So that makes my first grid position even sweeter.”
Sean Edwards (3rd in qualifying): “We were really quick in the wet. Then when I went out on slicks at the end the timing wasn’t really perfect. I was a little too late, maybe two, three seconds and through this I missed out on the chance of one last quick lap. Still, anything is possible in the race tomorrow.”
Klaus Bachler (12th in qualifying): “That was a really tough qualifying. I’ve never experienced such heavy rain just before the session. On wet tyres I sat in second place for quite some time, it was much better than in free practice. On my last lap I had to overtake two cars and unfortunately I lost some time because of that. I could have actually done better today.”
Nick Heidfeld (17th in qualifying): “On paper, 17th doesn’t look that impressive, but I’m not too disappointed. The track conditions were very tricky and of course that didn’t make it easier for me against the Supercup specialists. Still, I was able to familiarise myself a little more with the Porsche compared to the free practice. I’m now hoping for another improvement in the race.”
Michael Christensen (25th in qualifying): “I found it difficult today and it didn’t go at all well for me. The first half of the qualifying was good and I was able to match the pace very well. I’d never have thought the track could dry up so quickly and that’s why I stuck with wet tyres for my last laps. It was the wrong decision.”
1. René Rast (D), Lechner Racing Team, 1:46.023 minutes
2. Michael Ammermüller (D), VELTINS Lechner Racing, + 0.018 seconds
3. Sean Edwards (GB), Konrad Motorsport, + 0.206
4. Norbert Siedler (A), VELTINS Lechner Racing, + 0.223
5. Christian Engelhart (D), Konrad Motorsport, + 0.236
6. Nicki Thiim (DK), Hermes Attempto Racing, + 0.285
12. Klaus Bachler (A), Team Deutsche Post by tolimit, + 1.290
17. Nick Heidfeld (D), Porsche AG, + 1.900
The race on Sunday will be broadcast live by TV stations Eurosport 2 (11.45 hrs) and Sky Sport (11.40 hrs). Eurosport 1 also covers the race on Sunday at the later time of 13.00 hrs and televises highlights at 01.15 hours in the early hours of Monday in its programme “Motorsport Weekend Magazin”.