Turner and Ruberti take pole for Aston Martin and Porsche

Qualifying for the eighth and final round of the 2012 FIA Endurance Championship took place this afternoon.

The 6 Hours of Shanghai which is due to take place from 1100-1700 hours tomorrow, 28th October, took place this afternoon in overcast and humid conditions. The track was completely dry, however, unlike this morning’s practice session.  

Darren Turner in the No.97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE was one of the first cars out on track for the LMGTE qualifying session this afternoon and he used the time on the relatively empty track wisely, racing to his second FIA WEC LMGTE Pro pole position of the year and Aston Martin Racing’s third.  Clinching pole in the LMGTE Am category was the No.88 Team Felbermayr-Proton Porsche of Paolo Ruberti, giving the German squad the best possible start to their bid for class honours.

A long-time Aston Martin factory driver who has twice won in the GT category at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Turner’s lap time of 2:03.721 around the 5.45 km Shanghai International Circuit was seven tenths of a second faster than his competitors, the closest of whom was Richard Lietz in the No.77 Team Felbermayr-Proton Porsche who will join the Vantage V8 on the front row of the class grid.  Following behind them was the most experienced driver around the track which hosts the Chinese Grand Prix, Giancarlo Fisichella in the No.51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia.  The Italian said earlier today that his F1 experience had little relevance here this weekend as the GTE cars performed so differently on the track.  His time of 2:05.584 was a second quicker than his AF Corse team mates in the No.71 entry.

Sitting between the red LMGTE Pro Ferraris was the No.88 Porsche of Paolo Ruberti, an excellent performance from the Italian who drives with team owner Christian Ried and Gianluca Roda.  His best lap of 2:05.584 secured him the LMGTE Am pole position, and much needed point in the standings, and was three tenths of a second faster than another red Ferrari, the No.61 entry from AF Corse-Waltrip.  Marco Cioci steered this particular Prancing Horse around the track in a time of 2:05.836, over a second quicker than third placed car in class, the No.50 Larbre Compétition Corvette of Julien Canal.

The field will reconvene all together tomorrow morning for a 20-minute warm up at 0800 hours.

Darren Turner, No.97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE: “Throughout the free practice and warm up sessions this week, there has been a fraction of a second between all of the GTE Pro cars, so I knew we had to go out there today and do something special. The car feels fantastic and it suits the track well so I was able to go out and put in a good lap time on my first flying lap. When we realised noone else was coming close, we decided to pit and conserve the tyres ahead of the start of the race.  Of course a win here tomorrow would be a dream come true, but the main aim is to beat the #77 Porsche and finish second in the championship.”