Mercedes muscles in on maiden victory in Qualifying Race

Mercedes became the sixth brand to taste victory in 2012 when Marc Basseng and German co-driver Marcus Winkelhock won the Qualifying Race in the No.38 ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Mercedes SLS AMG at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal.

“The car was really good, it was a lot more consistent than we expected this weekend to be honest because we are lacking in straight line speed,” Basseng admitted.

“The guys did another excellent job at the pit stop. Maybe that’s where we can benefit in tomorrow’s race but it will be a tough battle again. We have a big engine and a lot of torque but it is going to be hard to stay ahead of the BMW off the line tomorrow.

“Let’s see, if we can be consistent again we have a chance for the win.”

Second place went to the drivers’ championship leaders, Michael Bartels (DEU) and Yelmer Buurman (NLD) in the Vita4One Racing Team BMW Z4 No.18.

Bartels, who started from 11th on the grid after a difficult Qualifying session, was delighted with the unexpected result. “I think a few factors came together today in our favour,” he said.

“I started from the back and was involved in a few hard fights early on. The Safety Car helped us, it came in at the right time for us.

“We came out from the pit stop in fourth and Yelmer did another great job in the second stint. We scored another six important points to stay in the fight for the championship. It sets up well for tomorrow to be able to go for the big prize.”

The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS ultra No.33 of Frank Stippler (DEU) and Oliver Jarvis (GBR) was third – the first visit to the podium for the Audi squad since the opening round in Nogaro, France.

Stippler came under intense pressure from Buurman but discretion won over valour and he eventually yielded second place. “We do not have the sharpest knife in the box at the moment and we found it hard to fight with the BMW,” he said.

“Actually Ollie (Jarvis) came on the radio to tell me to let the BMW pass. It’s better to take third place than risk an accident for sure.”

A brilliant effort from Stef Dusseldorp (NLD) and Frederic Makowiecki (FRA) secured fourth place for the No.1 Hexis Racing McLaren MP4-12C from 12th on the grid.

The second Vita4One BMW of Mathias Lauda (DEU) and Nikolaus Mayr-Melnhof were fifth ahead of the Hexis McLarens.

The pole-sitters, Toni Vilander (FIN) and Filip Salaquarda (CZE) in the AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia No.3 were leading the race until the pit window opened but a starter motor problem at the pit stop cost them over half a minute and any chance of victory. The Ferrari eventually finished 12th, one place behind the sister car which had started the race in second place.

To underline the pace of the Ferrari since the first Free Practice yesterday, Vilander set the fastest lap of the race – a 1:46.923. Unfortunately the AF Corse squad were not able to capitalise in the race.

Nicky Pastorelli (NLD) and Thomas Jäger (DEU) in the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Mercedes No.37 grabbed the final point on offer for sixth place.

The Sunred Engineering Ford GT No.10 of Matteo Cressoni (ITA) and Milos Pavlovic (SRB) was seventh.

It was a tough day at the office for the Reiter Engineering Lamborghinis. Peter Kox (NLD) in the No.25 car had made a good start and was challenging for fourth place but his race ended after 12 minutes when the Lamborghini’s steering broke after contact with the No.2 McLaren.

Kox was forced to park the car at the apron of Turn 4. The incident brought out the Safety Car to allow the stricken Gallardo to be removed from the scene. The pit window opened while the race was under the Safety Car.

The No.24 Lamborghini of Stefan Rosina (SVK) made an early visit to the box after a punctured front left tyre and Albert von Thurn und Taxis (DEU) eventually brought the car home in 13th.

The best of the Exim Bank Team China Porsches was the No.9 car of Mike Parisy (FRA) and Andreas Zuber (AUT) in ninth.

The second Porsche of Frenchmen Dino Lunardi and Benjamin Lariche did not make the start due to engine issues.

Tomorrow’s Championship Race starts at 14:15 local time.