ETCC: N?rburgring qualifying report

Fia Super Touring Championship Rounds 15 & 16 Qualifying Session Report Weather The session began on a damp track, as rain had poured down during the previous GT qualifying session. The track dried as the session proceeded. Overview 18 drivers...

Fia Super Touring Championship
Rounds 15 & 16
Qualifying Session Report

Weather
The session began on a damp track, as rain had poured down during the previous GT qualifying session. The track dried as the session proceeded.

Overview
18 drivers were expected to take to the track, including Gianluca Roda in the nr 11 Greyhound Opel Vectra and Matthew Neal in the nr 29 RJN Nissan Primera, who both missed the previous round at the A-1 Ring. However, Roda missed the session due to an engine failure and he will start from the last spot of the grid for tomorrow’s first race. Former F3 driver, Giovanni Gulinelli, is making his Touring Car debut at the wheel of the nr 10 Conrero Alfa Romeo 156. The car was previously driven by Enrico Toccacelo and Salvatore Deplano. A last minute withdrawal came from Racing Box's Sergio Sambataro. His Audi A4 Quattro suffered from a blown engine on the previous round at the A-1 Ring; the team's engineer is still investigating the reasons for this failure.

Tarquini claims his fifth pole
Gabriele Tarquini confirmed his status as the FIA European Super Touring Championship pole-position-master, grabbing his fifth pole of the season at the end of a breathtaking session. The changeable conditions of the drying track resulted in 15 changes of lead, with Tarquini, Colciago, Walfisch and Larini stealing the pole from each other lap after lap. Fastest in both the free practice sessions, Tarquini, at the wheel of his JAS Honda Accord, set a time of 1:44.692 two minutes before the end of the session, giving him the pole position, four tenths of a second ahead of Nicola Larini's Alfa Romeo 156.

Larini, who won the German Touring Car Championship in 1993, tried very hard to take pole in order to please all his local fans. He was twice on provisional pole, the first time by setting a time of 1:47.749 18 minutes into the session, and then improving to 1:45.567 with three minutes to go. He eventually improved by another four tenths but it was not enough to beat Tarquini.

British driver Matthew Neal managed to claim the third position on the grid as the chequered flag fell, clocking a time of 1:45.476 and beating Fabrice Walfisch, Roberto Colciago and Fabrizio Giovanardi, who will line up tomorrow in fourth, fifth and sixth positions respectively. Seventh on the grid and first of the "Amateur" drivers was Sandro Sardelli (PRO Motorsport Nissan Primera), who was placed as high as second midway through the session. Gianluca De Lorenzi (GDL Racing BMW 320i), who missed most of the session after hitting the tyre barrier after a spin, Eric Cayrolle (Max Team BMW 320i) and Mikko Lempinen (Lehtonen Motorsport Audi A4 Quattro) will all line up behind Sardelli. Heinrich Symanzick (RaceLine Racing Opel Vectra) posted a disappointing 16th time on his home track, after a previous lap time was disallowed by the stewards when he cut a chicane.

Newcomer Giovanni Gulinelli qualified in a creditable 13th position for his first Touring Car experience, while his Conrero team-mate, Angelo Lancelotti - who was second fastest of the "Amateurs" in free practice - remained above the 2-minute barrier due to an engine management problem. He will line up on the last row of the grid, alongside Gianluca Roda.

NOTES

Fabrizio Giovanardi - nr 1 Nordauto Alfa Romeo : "Before the session I was really worried because I had to learn the track, while Tarquini and Larini knew it very well from their previous experiences in the German Championships. Unfortunately my fears turned to reality when the changeable weather messed up all my attempts to find the right set-up. I went for the dry set-up and it started to rain, then I switched to the wet set-up and it dried up. I could not sort it out and a problem with a broken rim made everything even more difficult."

Nicola Larini - nr 2 Nordauto Alfa Romeo : "I am second on the grid, but I am not very happy with the gap between Tarquini and me. If we look at the lap times, it appears that we don't have any chance of keeping up with the Honda's pace, neither in the dry, nor in the wet. I am disappointed, because the team has worked a lot and the car's performances have certainly improved. Nevertheless we still have a big gap to close. All I can do in the race is trying to take the lead at the start and hope for the best. But even then, it won't be easy to keep Tarquini behind me."

Gabriele Tarquini - nr 4 JAS Motorsport Honda : "I had fun, we had a very good fight for the pole today. I drove faster and faster and I wanted to stay on the track for most of the time to benefit of the improving grip conditions. Close to the end of the session I aborted a promising attempt when I had to slow down because there were yellow flags waived in a couple of corners, but finally I managed to find a clean lap and it was a perfect one, no traffic, no yellows. I am very positive for tomorrow's races because I know this track very well and I know that my car is the fastest in every sort of condition. So I really don't mind if it is dry or wet."

Roberto Colciago - nr 7 AGS Motorsport Audi : "I started having problems with the transmission halfway through the qualifying session. I pitted to see if it was possible to fix it and eventually I went out nearly at the end of the session to try and find a clear lap on the dry track. Unfortunately a half-shaft broke on my fastest lap and I had to slow down to avoid breaking everything. It was a shame because I was sure of being able to claim third position."

Sandro Sardelli - nr 18 PRO Motorsport Nissan : "I put two new tyres on, and I went for a fast lap with only three minutes left in the session. But the traffic spoiled my attempt and there was not enough time to try another. I am disappointed because within a few minutes I saw my second position on the grid vanish as I slipped down to seventh. But it's ok, I'm still on the pole for the Amateurs Trophy and maybe it will be better to start from the fourth row of the grid than to risk being involved in a first-corner clash with the top drivers."

Matthew Neal - nr 29 RJN Motorsport Nissan: "It was not easy for me today, because I had to rediscover the feeling of driving a Super Touring car, after spending the last two months in Australia racing V8 machines. Also, I didn't know the track very well, because my only experience here dates back to 1988 in the 24 Hours. It was a big learning process for me and that's why I am very pleased with my third time. Frankly I did not expect such a result. Tomorrow I would really like to score my first win in the European Championship, but the guys around me are superstars and I don't want to interfere with their title fight. I hope we will have a clear race and if I could finish on the podium again I will consider it as good as win."

-estcc

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About this article
Series General
Drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi , Eric Cayrolle , Gabriele Tarquini , Nicola Larini , Roberto Colciago , Gianluca Roda