Thiim tops time sheets at hottest qualifying of the year
Stuttgart. Nicki Thiim (Walter Lechner Racing Team) has clinched the fastest time in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup qualifying session on the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg. The Dane outpaced his rivals at the wheel of his 460 hp Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and relegated Kévin Estre (F/Mc Gregor powered by Attempto Racing) and Michael Ammermüller (D/Walter Lechner Racing Team) to the second and third grid positions.
“It’s great to be back up the front. In this heat the race will be hard work, but I can hardly wait,” said a satisfied Thiim. VIP-driver Patrick Dempsey encountered tough opposition amongst the 27-strong field of seasoned Cup contenders. The long distance pilot and actor takes up the sprint from 26th place.
In sweltering summer temperatures fans were treated to a thrilling qualifying session on the storied German race track: the air temperature of 31 degrees Celsius and a track temperature of 51 degrees made this qualifying session the hottest of the season. The best grid spots for the race on Sunday were posted in the final five minutes of the 30-minute session. After topping the time charts for much of the time, the winner of the International Cup Scholarship Earl Bamber (NZ/Fach Auto Tech) was shunted by Thiim from his top spot five minutes before the end of the session with a time of 1:43.251 minutes, followed closely by his former teammate Kévin Estre in 1:43.493 minutes. The reigning Supercup title holder held on to his pole-setting time to the end. In the final seconds, Bavaria’s Michael Ammermüller made a last ditch attempt to knock him off the front grid spot and landed on a commendable third place.
The close results of the following positions are evidence of the tough competition in this international Porsche championship. With their identical 911 GT3 Cup racers, the fastest 17 drivers all posted times within a mere seven-tenths of a second. Porsche junior Sven Mueller(D/Team Project 1) scored the spot behind Bamber in fifth. “At first we were the fastest but on the second set of tyres I encountered some traffic, explained Bamber. “I improved on the stuff I got wrong on Friday,” concluded Mueller, “and now I’m quite pleased with my performance.”
Lining up alongside Mueller on the third grid row is his junior colleague Klaus Bachler (A/Konrad Motorsport). “It was incredibly close at the top. I’m curious to see what the weather is going to do tomorrow – whether it stays dry or rains,” said Bachler. Kuba Giermaziak (PL/VERVA Lechner Racing Team), the current points’ leader and the winner of two rounds so far this season, takes up the race from seventh, with Pieter Schothorst (NL/Mc Gregor powered by Attempto Racing) on position eight.
Porsche junior Connor de Phillippi (USA/FÖRCH Racing by Lukas Motorsport) sits in twelfth: “It’s not exactly the result I’d hoped for. The conditions were difficult with lots of yellow flags out during the qualifying.” Porsche junior Alex Riberas (E/Mc Gregor powered by Attempto Racing) was disappointed with his 16th position. “I found the qualifying very tough. At first I was sitting fifth, but then the yellow flag came out while I was on my second set of tyres before I’d finished my lap,” stated the 20-year-old Spaniard.
VIP-driver Patrick Dempsey achieved 26th at his Supercup debut: “I’m really pleased with my qualifying. I tried to brake later each lap and managed to improve considerably on my times from Friday’s free practice. But in such an incredibly strong field it wasn’t enough for a position near the front. I’m very much looking forward to the race. My first standing start at an international race will be a completely new experience for me.”
In Sunday’s race, pole-sitter Nicki Thiim could become the fourth different winner from five races. Bamber won the season-opener in Barcelona, Giermaziak dominated in Monaco and Spielberg, and Clemens Schmid (A/Walter Lechner Racing Team) in Silverstone. A glance at the qualifying results also shows that no one as yet has emerged as a favourite. Philipp Eng (A/Team Project 1) clinched pole position in Barcelona and Spielberg, Giermaziak in Monaco, Schmid in Silverstone and now Thiim in Hockenheim.
Sky Deutschland covers the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup from 11.35 hours CEST and broadcasts the race, as does Eurosport, live from 11.45 hours.
1. Nicki Thiim (DK/Walter Lechner Racing Team), 1:43.251 min
2. Kévin Estre (F/Mc Gregor powered by Attempto Racing), 1:43.493
3. Michael Ammermüller (D/Walter Lechner Racing Team), 1:43.598
4. Earl Bamber (NZ/Fach Auto Tech), 1:43.611
5. Sven Müller (D/Team Project 1), 1:43.635
6. Klaus Bachler (A/Konrad Motorsport), 1:43.661
7. Kuba Giermaziak (PL/VERVA Lechner Racing Team), 1:43.667
8. Pieter Schothorst (NL/Mc Gregor powered by Attempto Racing), 1:43.691