Lapping the circuit in 1:35.691 minutes, the seasoned Porsche racer beat Austria’s Philipp Eng (Market Leader Team) to the first grid spot by almost a tenth of a second. “I’m so happy. Pole position in Monaco is fantastic. My car ran perfectly. I was just two centimetres away from flying off at one point,” said van Lagen. Christian Engelhart (MRS GT-Racing) from Kösching in Bavaria takes up race two of the season from position three. Lining up alongside him on fourth is Ben Barker (MOMO-Megatron Team Partrax) from Great Britain. Barcelona winner Michael Ammermüller (D/Lechner Racing Middle East) starts from position five ahead of Alex Riberas (E/The Heart of Racing by Lechner).
After dominating Thursday’s free practice, Eng looked certain to be pole sitter until shortly before the end of the qualifying session. Van Lagen, however, put in a last ditch effort on the twisty circuit with his 460 hp Porsche 911 GT3 Cup to top the time sheet of the 27-strong field. Van Lagen stated: “At times I was running second, but I noticed I could do more. On my second set of tyres I really let it rip and planted my car on position one.”
Van Lagen won the traditional Porsche Cup, a competition run separately to Porsche’s brand trophy series to determine the best Porsche private driver worldwide, and this weekend races for the Swiss team Fach Auto Tech. This is the same squad that Earl Bamber, the champion of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, drove for in 2014. Thanks to his successes that year, Bamber subsequently received a contract as a Porsche factory driver.
The Porsche pilots headed out on to the 3.340 kilometre street circuit in brilliant sunshine. Given that the qualifying result on this circuit is vitally important due to the very few overtaking possibilities, the tension amongst the drivers was tangible. Eng appeared slightly disappointed with position two. “Generally, the first grid row is good. But second on the grid in Monaco is not so great because the track is pretty dirty there. Now I have to see what I can do in the race.”
Porsche Junior Matteo Cairoli (I/Market Leader Team) kept his cool and posted the seventh quickest time as a rookie. “Unfortunately I had someone in front of me on my flying lap. My car ran beautifully, and I would certainly have done better if I’d had a free run,” explained the 18 year old. Porsche Junior Connor de Phillippi (USA/VERVA Lechner Racing Team) starts from eighth. “I’m annoyed with myself because I made a mistake and touched the barrier and had to call it a day after only six laps. The only upside is that I start the race on fresh rubber,” analysed de Phillippi. Porsche Junior Sven Müller (D/Lechner Racing Middle East) drove the ninth quickest time: “In my fastest lap I touched the guardrail and it damaged the front of my car. My session was over after just five laps.”
The race on Sunday over 16 laps is broadcast live by Sky Deutschland from 9.30 hours. On Eurosport, the race is aired on Tuesday from 23 hours.
1. Jaap van Lagen (NL/Fach Auto Tech), 1:35.691 minutes
2. Philipp Eng (A/Market Leader Team), 1:35.788
3. Christian Engelhart (D/MRS GT-Racing), 1:35.928
4. Ben Barker (MOMO-Megatron Team Partrax), 1:35.949
5. Michael Ammermüller (D/Lechner Racing Middle East), 1:36.096
6. Alex Riberas (E/The Heart of Racing by Lechner), 1:36.204
7. Matteo Cairoli (I/Market Leader Team), 1:36.355
8. Connor de Phillippi (USA/VERVA Lechner Racing Team), 1:36.635
9. Sven Müller (D/Lechner Racing Middle East), 1:36.661
10. Robert Lukas (PL/Förch Racing by Lukas Motorsport), 1:36.726