WEATHER: Sunny and warm, with a dry track.
Jörg Müller claimed his second pole position of the season, with an early fastest lap of 2:32.802. The BMW Team Deutschland driver managed to set this time on his first quick lap, just five minutes into the session. And no one was able to beat it.
For most of the qualifying, his team-mate Dirk Müller kept second position, with a lap of 2:33.134. However he was eventually ousted by SEAT Sport's Jordi Gené, who drove his SEAT Toledo Cupra to complete a lap in 2:33.070. Current Championship leader Andy Priaulx set the fourth-fastest time (2:33.430), beating Antonio García (2:33.444) and the first of the Alfa Romeo men, Gabriele Tarquini (2:33.477).
It was a great day for BMW drivers, who filled four of the first six spots for the grid for tomorrow's Race 1. Rickard Rydell's SEAT, James Thompson's Alfa, Kurt Mollekens' BMW and Fabrizio Giovanardi's Alfa completed the top-ten, all covered by 0.9 seconds.
Alessandro Zanardi continued to impress, and set the 11th fastest time (2:33.904), only 1.1 seconds from the pole, and his best qualifying so far in the championship. Zanardi was ahead of Frank Diefenbacher, and the leading trio of the Independents Trophy: Salvatore Tavano, Carl Rosenblad and Alessandro Balzan. The three of them were covered by five hundredths.
Thomas Winkelhock, in his Schubert Motorsport BMW 320i, qualified 18th overall, and set pole position for the German DMSB Produktionswagen Meisterschaft with a lap of 2:35.808. Winkelhock's team-mate Claudia Hürtgen and Hotfiel Sport's Michael Funke were ranked second and third, respectively 0.3 and 0.9 seconds behind.
After 12 minutes Augusto Farfus's Alfa Romeo 156 went off at the Savelot bend and hit the barrier; the session was red-flagged and restarted 25 minutes later. The Brazilian driver was unscathed, but his car was badly damaged.
Two drivers did not start because of engine problems: Simon Harrison and Franz Engstler.
PRACTICE 1: RYDELL FASTEST, KLENKE CRASHES
SEAT Sport's Rickard Rydell set the fastest time in the session with a lap in 2:33.712, beating the RBM team-mates - BMW Team Great Britain's Andy Priaulx and BMW Team Belgium-Luxembourg's Kurt Mollekens - by only 0.05 seconds. Surprisingly they set exactly identical times: 2:33.762. Fourth fastest was AutoDelta Alfa Romeo's Augusto Farfus (2:34.026), completing a trio of different Manufacturers at the top.
Farfus's team-mate Fabrizio Giovanardi had set a provisional fastest time (2:34.540) in the early stages. He was soon ousted by Priaulx's 2:34.248, but Rydell took the lead for good, ten minutes into the session. Immediately afterwards practice was red-flagged, when Thomas Klenke's Ford Focus crashed heavily at the top of the Raidillon.
The driver was checked at the circuit's medical centre and dismissed after a few minutes; however the weekend is finished for him, as his car was totally destroyed. Practice resumed after a 25 minute break in order to retrieve Klenke's car and clean up the oil on the track.
After the restart, Priaulx and Farfus improved and moved up to second and third, but right before the end of the session Mollekens managed to match exactly Priaulx's lap time, demoting Farfus to fourth.
JAS Motorsport's Alessandro Balzan (13th) and Schubert Motors' Thomas Winkelhock (18th) emerged as the fastest drivers in the Independents Trophy and the German championship respectively. A few drivers had different problems: Jan Magnussen went off at the Double Left and remained stranded into the gravel; Simon Harrison's engine blew; Tom Coronel was stopped by a broken driveshaft.
PRACTICE 2: ZANARDI IS THIRD BEHIND J. MÜLLER AND GIOVANARDI
The second session was rather uneventful, except for an early collision at the Eau Rouge between Michele Bartyan's Alfa Romeo and Rainer Bastuck's Opel Astra. Both drivers were sidelined for the rest of the session.
Right at the beginning Jörg Müller (BMW Team Deutschland) and Fabrizio Giovanardi (AutoDelta) set the two fastest times with laps in 2:33.628 and 2:33.675 respectively, separated by only 0.047 seconds. Nobody managed to beat them in the remaining 25 minutes.
Alessandro Zanardi created a surprise, setting the third-fastest time at 2:33.908; never before this season has the BMW Team Italy-Spain's driver managed to be so close to the top. Augusto Farfus was fourth-fastest (2:33.926) and the last driver to go under the 2:34 barrier A total of ten drivers were covered by 0.8 seconds, with Dirk Müller, Antonio García, Kurt Mollekens, Gabriele Tarquini, Jordi Gené and Andy Priaulx ranking behind the top-four.
Carly Motors' Tom Coronel set the 13th fastest lap, and topped the Independents classification, while Thomas Winkelhock (18th) was again the fastest in the German Championship. 34 cars took part in the session, as Simon Harrison's Honda Civic sat inside the GR Asia garage for changing the engine.
Four drivers suffered from technical problems: Carly Motors' Pauline Zwart (broken suspension), Wiechers Sport's Diego Romanini (lambda sound), Hotfiel Sport's Michael Funke (gearbox) and Peugeot Sport's Jan Magnussen (power steering).