RYDELL AND MULLER GIVE SEAT FRONT ROW
Rickard Rydell claimed pole position in his SEAT Leon Tdi during a highly competitive qualifying session at Imola. He emerged ahead of team mate Yvan Muller in the final minutes, beating five other drivers who provisionally held pole during the session. Rydell's time of 1:54.761 was two tenths faster than Gabriele Tarquini's time from this morning's final practice session.
Chevrolet were also strong, taking third position with Alain Menu, and fourth with Robert Huff. They had been improving all weekend following a slow start and both drivers headed the standings at times during the session.
James Thompson's N-technology Honda took fifth position, following an extremely promising morning during practice. Halfway through the session the Briton clocked a lap of 1:54.954 to claim a provisional pole position that stood until the final moments.
Tarquini made up the rest of the third row alongside Thompson as he struggled to find the pace he had in test and practice. The Italian began the qualifying session going wide at Villeneuve, but was later able to recover an important sixth spot on the grid. The final Chevrolet of Nicola Larini took seventh position, with the first BMW driver, Jorg Muller, in eighth. The BMW cars have struggled for pace on this circuit as Augusto Farfus and Andy Priaulx made up the top ten positions behind Muller.
Sergio Hernandez took pole position for the Independents' class, with the fourteenth fastest lap overall. Pierre-Yves Corthals, who briefly led the category in the early stages, qualified second, with Stefano D'Aste in third and seventeenth overall, with a gap of only one second from the poleman,
The piles of tyres on the track were still causing a few problems for the drivers, but there were far less incidents than in the previous sessions. Tarquini had a moment at Villeneuve; Ibrahim Okyay came off at Tamburello; Jaap Van Lagen's driver's door fell open during one of his laps.