Muller fastest BMW driver in first WTCC qualifying of the season. Curitiba, 7th March 2009. BMW Team Germany's Jorg Muller (DE) claimed sixth place on the grid for the season opener of the 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) with a...
Muller fastest BMW driver in first WTCC qualifying of the season.
Curitiba, 7th March 2009. BMW Team Germany's Jorg Muller (DE) claimed sixth place on the grid for the season opener of the 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) with a lap time of 1:24.637 minutes. The 39-year-old was the best-placed BMW national team driver in qualifying at the "Autodromo Internacional de Curitiba", finishing 0.441 seconds behind pole-sitter Yvan Muller (FR, SEAT). His team-mate, Augusto Farfus (BR), was seventh, while BMW Team UK's Andy Priaulx (GB) claimed tenth on the grid for the first race on Sunday. Both BMW Team Italy-Spain drivers, Sergio Hernandez (ES) and Alessandro Zanardi (IT), failed to get into the decisive top-ten shootout.
"Obviously we had hoped for a better start to the new season," said Friedhelm Nohl, General Manager Engineering, Sports and Touring Cars. "By finishing sixth Jorg was our best-placed driver, less than half a second behind the man on pole. With Augusto and Andy we have two more drivers in the top-ten. Sergio narrowly missed the second session. However, we still hope to be involved in the fight for podium positions in Sunday's races."
As early as in the first part of qualifying, which was run to a new format with two separate sessions, Muller was the quickest BMW driver after finishing fifth. While the German booked his ticket for the second part along with Priaulx and Farfus, Hernandez and Zanardi were eliminated thanks to being 11th and 14th. The 20- minute session was red-flagged for five minutes after an accident involving BMW privateer driver, Kristian Poulsen (DK), but ran without any further interruptions.
Muller said: "My car was good today, and I managed to be the fastest of all the drivers powered by a petrol engine. I am not really convinced by the new qualifying format. We saw even fewer cars running on the track than before, and there were a lot of tactics in play. Tomorrow I will try to gain as many positions as possible."
Unlike Muller, who set his lap time after six of the ten minutes in "Q2", Farfus and Priaulx waited until two minutes before the end of the session before going out. "During the second session the track conditions changed," commented Farfus. "Therefore, the set-up of my car was no longer at 100 percent. Now I will fight hard tomorrow to gain as much ground as possible and to put on a good show for my home fans."
Priaulx explained: "Our strategy didn't quite pay off today. That's disappointing, as it had looked positive after my early runs. Due to s problem with a brake calliper in the morning I lost one set of tyres. Nevertheless, I will push hard to score two good results on Sunday."
The first race of the World Touring Car Championship will start on 13:05hrs local time (16:05hrs GMT) tomorrow, race two will get underway at 16:05hrs (19:05hrs GMT).