Following a late influx of Brazilian drivers in the week before the FIA GT1 World Championship race at Interlagos it is the home country wheelmen who dominated the Free Practice and Pre-Qualifying sessions at the Sao Paulo track.
The fastest time in the opening session went to the no.2 Vitaphone Maserati, where regular driver (and regular Brazilian) Enrique Bernoldi has been joined by his countryman Xandi Negrao for the race. Their lap of 1:33.046 just over a tenth faster than another Maserati and another two Brazilians – Daniel Serra and Francisco Longo second in the no.34 Hegersport car.
Fastest in the Pre-Qualifying session to the third all-Brazilian line-up, Sergio Jimenez and Claudio Dahruj topping the timesheets with a 1:33.024 for Mad-Croc Corvette, times improving as a track that began with little grip earlier in the day began to change.
“This is my first time in the Corvette and I have to say I like it very much,” said Jimenez. ”The main difference I have noticed between this car and the GT3 Lamborghini I have driven is the brakes and the torque. It has great torque which is going to good for us in the uphill sections.”
“Today we focused on set-up and getting a good direction for the weekend. As for the track, I have raced here a few times so I know it quite well.”
Serra and Longo were second once more for Hegersport with the Reiter Lamboghini of Ricardo Zonta and Frank Kechele third – the German the only non-Brazilian in the top four places in the session as Bernoldi and Negrao were fourth fastest.
Their teammates in the no.1 Vitaphone MC12 could only manage ninth fastest in the session. Drivers Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini can clinch the title at Interlagos. However, Thomas Mutsch, the man closest to the pair in the points standings claimed fifth fastest in the Matech Competition Ford GT he shares with Briton Richard Westbrook.
“Obviously my aim is to finish ahead of Bartels and Bertolini to keep chasing for the drivers' title,” stated Mutsch. “It is going to be tough particularly after Navarra where we missed out on points because of the crash. That was a shame for the championship fight but we have to keep pushing here at Interlagos.”