It is hard to fault Vitantonio Liuzzi right now. Victorious in the opening three rounds, the likable Italian secured his fourth-consecutive front row start and his third pole position of the year during yesterday's qualifying session at Nurburgring with an impressive 1m47.734s lap. The fact that Liuzzi ran fewer laps than anyone else in the field, then went to top the time sheets on his first set of tyres before cementing pole position on the second set, has served to further enhance the growing opinion that here is a special talent.
'We had the pole with the first set of tyres, and I improved by a tenth with the second set," the Arden driver explained. "Until the last lap I was 0.6s in front of (Tomas) Enge, who was second, then (Enrico) Toccacelo improved on his last lap. Last year he won and I finished second, so I'm hoping to reverse that this time! For sure it won't be an easy race, but there's not much degradation of tyres.'
Also securing a fourth-consecutive front row starting position, BCN Competition's Enrico Toccacelo put in a good performance with a 1:48.082s lap. Frustrated at being unable to claim pole for today's race, the Italian felt the deficit to his fellow countryman was due to a lack of tyre performance.
"It was a strange day," announced Toccacelo. "Because we were quickest in practice and we couldn't repeat the performance in qualifying. My two set of tyres for qualifying didn't work well, and what is most frustrating is that we don't know the reasons why. For my final run, the team called me into the pits, and put on the old set of tyres from the practice session which improved my time on my last lap."
The ever-improving Thomas Enge took third with a time of 1:48.215 for the Ma-Con team while in fourth, Jose Maria Lopez hustled his CMS machine round the 3.199 Mile circuit in 1:48.298s. Initially struggling with a lack of grip, Coloni's Jeffrey Van Hooydonk eventually took 5th position with a 1:48.437s lap while AEZ's Raffaele Giammaria claimed 6th with a time of 1:48.555s.
Failing to match the speed of his team mate, Esteban Guerrieri lap of 1:48.743s was only good enough for 7th while Robert Doornbos, Yannick Schroeder and Patrick Friesacher rounded out the top ten with 1:48.854s, 1:48.903s, 1:49.071s laps respectively.
The stage is set for an intriguing race today as Vitantonio Liuzzi bids for an unprecedented fourth straight victory. Eager to end his rivals Michael Schumacher-esq start to the FIA F3000 International campaign, Enrico Toccacelo will be looking for his first win of the season. Tyres, if qualifying is anything to go by, could make all the difference when the lights go out this afternoon. The question though, is whether Toccacelo's BCN squad will have found a set that work to their drivers liking? If not, chances are he could spend the entire race staring at the rear wing of the man bidding for win number four--