Two times pole position for reigning champion
Stuttgart. During the qualifying session for round one of the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup in Bahrain, Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands) posted the top time in just his third timed lap. And with his second quickest qualifying time, which determines the starting place for race two on Sunday, the 27-year-old reigning champion snatched position one. With this, the Konrad Motorsport pilot has the best chances to bring home maximum points from both races of the season-opener and again assert himself at the top of the points’ table.
Bleekemolen secured pole position for the first race in 2:04.583 minutes. Behind the former DTM pilot, René Rast (Germany), Stefan Rosina (Slovakia), Richard Westbrook (Great Britain), Damien Faulkner (Ireland) and Patrick Huisman (Netherlands) put in a spirited fight for the next grid positions. Six minutes before the end of the hunt for top times, Rast - as reigning champion of the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland - finally grabbed second in front of three former brand trophy champions and the Slovakian. Only two-thousands of a second separated the 22-year-old youngster, who drives for the VELTINS MRS Racing this season, from Bleekemolen’s pole-setting time. Last year, Rast stunned the establishment when he secured pole position for both races at his Supercup debut.
Taking up both season-opening races behind the two leaders, both of whom are reigning champions, are Faulkner (Walter Lechner Racing School) in position three and Westbrook (Great Britain, Federsand-Jetstream Motorsport) in fourth. The Irishman and the Briton know each other well. Both are former champions of the Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain and in 2007 gave a gripping head-to-head battle for the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup title. The duel was decided in the final lap of the final championship round in Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps: Westbrook claimed the title, Faulkner took second overall.
Taking up the race from fifth and sixth on the grid for the first Supercup race of the 2009 year are Stefan Rosina (Slovakia, Walter Lechner Racing School) and Patrick Huisman (Netherlands, SPS Performance). Last year, the 21-year-old Slovakian climbed the podium twice in third and for 2009 is hoping to bring home his first victory. Huisman has already celebrated 24 wins in his career and has four championship titles under his belt (1997 to 2000). With this, the 42-year-old Dutchman holds an unparalleled record.
Making up the fourth row of the grid are Norbert Siedler (Austria, VELTINS MRS Racing) and Matt Halliday (New Zealand, Federsand-Jetstream Motorsport). Jiri Janak (Czech Republic, Konrad Motorsport) posted ninth, followed by Richard Williams (Great Britain, SPS Performance), Siso Cunill (Spain, Konrad Motorsport) and Luigi Ferrara (Italy, SANITEC RACING), the reigning champion of the Porsche Carrera Cup Italia. William Langhorne (USA, SANITEC RACING) and Abdulaziz Al Faisal (Saudi Arabia, Walter Lechner Racing School) line up on the final row of the grid.
For the second championship round, which also takes off on the Bahrain International Circuit on Sunday, 14 pilots qualified their 911 GT3 Cup cars with their second fastest qualifying times. The grid line up is exactly the same as for the first race, which gets underway on Saturday (25th April) at 12.25 hrs.
Jeroen Bleekemolen (pole-sitter): “I’m very pleased with this result. The season couldn’t start better. It’s a new season and I’m driving for a new team. By now we didn’t know where we stood. But now we know, and more importantly, everything is going perfectly. It’s going to be difficult to win the race though. I have some excellent drivers behind me and they are all waiting for me to make a mistake and then they want to use that chance.”
René Rast (second qualifier): “Two times second in qualifying – that’s a great result. I’m happy with this. After the free practice where I sat seventh I had prepared myself for a worse qualifying result. Now anything is possible in the race.”
Damien Faulkner (third qualifier): “This qualifying was tough. It was really not easy to set a top time. There are six drivers this season who are good for pole position. Before the season I didn’t do one kilometre of testing. So it’s thanks to my team that things have worked so well. They really made a huge effort.”
Richard Westbrook (fourth qualifier): “I took a year’s break from the Supercup and I must say it’s great fun to be back. The line up is very strong and therefore the qualifying was hard and demanding. For the race we have a task to complete. I’m not entirely happy with the set-up of my car and we need to make a few changes. But for the beginning I’m very pleased. We have a lot of potential.”
The television stations “Eurosport 2” and “Premiere” broadcast round two of the championship on Sunday (26 April) live from 11.30 hrs (CEST).
Qualifying (1st championship round):
1. Jeroen Bleekemolen (NL), Konrad Motorsport, 2:04.583 minutes (156.387 km/h)
2. René Rast (D), VELTINS MRS Racing, + 0.002 seconds
3. Damien Faulkner (IR), Walter Lechner Racing School, + 0.281
4. Richard Westbrook (GB), Federsand-Jetstream Motorsport, + 0.323
5. Stefan Rosina (SK), Walter Lechner Racing School, + 0.369
Qualifying (2nd championship round):
1. Jeroen Bleekemolen (NL), Konrad Motorsport, 2:04.750 minutes
2. René Rast (D), VELTINS MRS Racing, + 0.019 seconds
3. Damien Faulkner (IR), Walter Lechner Racing School, + 0.279
4. Richard Westbrook (GB), Federsand-Jetstream Motorsport, + 0.311
5. Stefan Rosina (SK), Walter Lechner Racing School, + 0.383