Zanardi claims pole position for BMW in Czech WTCC qualifying.

Brno, 14th June 2008. At the "Automotodrom Brno", Alessandro Zanardi (IT) secured his maiden pole position in the FIA World Touring Car Championship. In qualifying for the ninth round of the season, the BMW Team Italy-Spain driver set the fastest lap time of the day in 2:08.913 minutes. His team-mate Felix Porteiro (ES) rounded off the excellent performance for Team Principal Roberto Ravaglia's (IT) squad by finishing third, just 0.126 seconds behind Zanardi. Chevrolet's Alain Menu (CH) edged between the two BMW drivers. Augusto Farfus (BR) and Andy Priaulx (GB) ranked eighth and tenth respectively. Jorg Muller (DE) was stranded in the gravel following a spin on his fourth lap. He had to make do with 17th.

Less than one week after Robert Kubica's (PL) victory for the BMW Sauber F1 Team claimed at the Canadian Grand Prix, BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen is now on site to follow this weekend's WTCC action in Brno. He said: "This was a session of mixed emotions for us. Thanks to a strong performance Alessandro and Felix took pole position and third place. Congratulations to BMW Team Italy-Spain. On the other hand, the higher weight of their cars took its toll on Augusto and Andy. But they still have a fighting chance to secure good results on Sunday. Jorg was unlucky today. After a promising first outing he went into the gravel. For him it will be difficult to collect any more points."

Once again the 5.402-kilometre track in Brno turned out to be the perfect territory for BMW Team Italy-Spain. Last year Porteiro claimed pole position, only to add victory in race one. After qualifying third in 2006 as well as in 2007, this time Zanardi did even better by posting the best time. "This is a fantastic day for the team and obviously for me, too. I was battling it out at the top after my first outing, before the Chevrolets were able to launch a counterattack on the second set of tyres. Fortunately I found a free lap on my final assault and made no mistakes. Apparently there really is a magic connection between Brno and our team."

Porteiro added: "We are in an excellent position to add lots of points to our tally tomorrow. However, it won't be easy to overtake. The new track surface is very slippery if you go off the racing line." Priaulx had reason to be happy before the start of qualifying: The triple world champion's name appears on the Queen's Birthday Honours List. In this list published today the Guernsey driver has been awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire). The 33-year-old commented: "I'm really proud of this honour. But after P10 in qualifying I shall now focus fully on securing a points finish here in the Czech Republic on Sunday. The balance of my car was completely different compared to the practice sessions."

-credit: bmw