A Ginetta-Zytek GZ09S sits on pole for tomorrow’s 1,000km of Catalunya Le Mans Series race having been easily the quickest overall during this afternoon’s qualifying session. Driving the new Strakka Racing LMP1 entry, Danny Watts was a full half second faster than anyone else in the 42-car field.
It was almost a double for the debutant design with Olivier Pla in the ASM-Quifel LMP2 GZ09S the fastest in class for virtually the whole of the 20-minute session. However, in the dying seconds he was pushed back down to second place. Both drivers, not surprisingly, declared themselves to be “delighted” with the latest from the Repton-based manufacturer.
Danny proved extremely quick from the very start of the qualifying session, setting his fastest time of 1m 32.492s on his second lap. While his rivals pounded round for anything up to seven laps, the Englishman needed just a total of three to ensure that the car took pole position. What makes this result all the more impressive is that the Strakka Racing team is making its debut in the prototype category this weekend having previously competed in the GT classes.
“It was a clear lap and the car was excellent,” recalled Danny. “However, I did brake late into the hairpin and locked up so maybe there was potential for something quicker. The third lap might have been but I was baulked into Turn 3. I abandoned the run after that and headed back to the pit lane to save putting more laps onto the tyres.”
Frenchman, Olivier also dominated the LMP2 class for virtually all of the qualifying session. It was only in the last few seconds, as the chequered flag came down, that a rival posted a time a mere 0.012 seconds faster than Olivier’s 1m 36.172s to deny Zytek the “double”.
The Ginetta-Zyteks had already proved to be rapid in practice. Indeed, during yesterday’s session Olivier had been fastest in the LMP2 category by over one and a half second, as well as proving quicker than a couple of the LMP1 contenders. The teams had been working on establishing a good balance for the car and reckoned to have found one towards the end of this morning’s, second practice session, ready in time for their stunning qualifying performances later in the day.
The enthusiastic, renamed GAC Racing Team, with its older Zytek 07S continues to improve. With new signing Phillip Peter at the wheel, the squad finished qualifying sixth in class (1m 38.018s). Also moving up the time sheets from last year was the other Zytek-engined car in the field, the WR Salini drive by Tristan Gommendy, which was a further two places back in the LMP2 class (1m 39.184s).
“This is the first race with the GZ09S,” observed Zytek Engineering operations director John Manchester, “and to sit on pole is something I don’t think any of us thought would happen. The car is in the very early stages of development, so we’re confident there’s more to come this season. We’re also delighted for Strakka Racing. It’s a big step up from GT1 to LMP1, and to get pole in its first ever race at this level is a remarkable achievement.”