Priaulx fastest BMW driver in Brands Hatch "tyre gamble". Brands Hatch (Great Britain), 20th May 2006. In a qualifying session that was badly affected by changeable weather conditions at Brands Hatch, BMW Team UK driver Andy Priaulx (GBR) was...
Priaulx fastest BMW driver in Brands Hatch "tyre gamble".
Brands Hatch (Great Britain), 20th May 2006. In a qualifying session that was badly affected by changeable weather conditions at Brands Hatch, BMW Team UK driver Andy Priaulx (GBR) was the best-placed BMW competitor. With a handicap weight of 70 kilos on board his BMW 320si WTCC the current championship leader will be 10th on tomorrow's grid for round five of the FIA World Touring Car Championship. Dirk Müller (GER) of BMW Team Germany will start the first race of the day from 11th position, directly behind Priaulx. SEAT's Rickard Rydell (SWE) claimed pole position, setting a time of 1:34.493 minutes.
BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen, who followed the action at the trackside, commented, "Today we once again got proof why the English weather is so notorious. The conditions have changed from one minute to the next, thus turning qualifying into a true tyre gamble. In addition, we saw that experience is a crucial factor at this track. Almost all the drivers in the top positions have several race starts at Brands Hatch under there belts. In view of the difficult track conditions, this is a massive advantage."
Before the start of qualifying, heavy rain showers fell on the 4.22 kilometre Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit. The rain ceased when the red lights went off to indicate the kick-off of the 30-minute session. Nevertheless, all drivers went out on wet tyres for their first timed laps. Over the course of the qualifying, the track continued to dry out. With only ten minutes to go, the first drivers pitted to change to dry tyres. Afterwards, the lap times fell rapidly.
However, the BMW national teams were not rewarded for their strategy of being among the first to have slicks mounted on their cars. Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) of BMW Team Italy-Spain took 17th place, his team-mate Marcel Costa (ESP) came 19th. BMW Team Germany's Jörg Müller (GER) will also be forced to plough his way through the field: He came 20th in qualifying.
The bad weather did not succeed in diminishing the fans' enthusiasm for their local hero Priaulx. During a media briefing it was announced that his home of Guernsey will honour the reigning World Touring Car Champion by issuing a special set of stamps. The collection comprises six stamps showing impressive pictures of some of Priaulx' career highlights - from the 1995 British Hillclimb Championship to the WTCC title last year.
Before the qualifying, Priaulx had watched round seven of the Formula BMW UK Championship very closely, as he is the young gun series' official instructor. Oliver Turvey (GBR) won the eventful race. Nigel Mansell (GBR) kept his fingers crossed for his two sons, Greg and Leo, who are taking part in the championship this year. Mansell is going to do demonstration runs in the BMW M3 GTR this weekend.