BMW Team UK's Priaulx secures front-row grid position in Macau.
Macau, 14th November 2008. In an eventful qualifying session at Macau's "Guia Circuit", Andy Priaulx (GB) claimed second on the grid for the 23rd round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship. The triple world champion set a personal best time of 2:30.458 minutes, and finished just 0.173 seconds behind Chevrolet's Alain Menu (CH), who took pole position the same way he had done in 2007. BMW Team Germany's Augusto Farfus (BR) led for most of the session, but had to make do with fifth following an accident on his final flying lap.
Farfus' team-mate Jorg Muller (DE) posted the tenth-fastest lap in the final qualifying session of the year, while the BMW Team Italy-Spain drivers, Felix Porteiro (ES) and Alessandro Zanardi (IT), were 13th and 14th respectively.
Priaulx produced a thrilling finish to the 45-minutes of qualifying and set his fastest lap on his final attempt, with just a few seconds remaining on the clock. He commented: "I am very pleased with being where I am. It has been a tough year for me but it is nice to be at the front again, and I hope we can take that place into the race. The red flags did not disrupt my session thankfully. As long as I drive well, push hard and finish the races then I shall be very happy with myself and try to finish the season on a high note."
As is traditional round Macau's twisty street circuit, several incidents spiced up the show, with two of them causing the red flag to come out. First it was BMW privateer driver, Masaki Kano (JP), who stopped in a dangerous place, then an accident involving title contender Gabriele Tarquini (IT) brought about the second stoppage about 14 minutes before the end.
Farfus was on his 14th lap when he also hit the barrier and was forced to park his BMW 320si WTCC on the side of the track. "It's a pity, we had the chance to do better today," said the 25-year-old. "With my first two sets of new tyres I was able to set the pace at the front and was leading. On my third attempt, however, I couldn't get the best out of the new tyres as I ran into traffic."
Muller, a triple Macau Guia Race winner, added: "For me it was far from easy today. The grip from the tyres was different every lap - on some laps I had understeer, on others oversteer. From tenth it will be more difficult to keep out of any trouble on the first corner on Sunday, but I will do my best not to be involved in any dramas."
Race one at the "Guia Circuit" will start on Sunday at 12:00hrs local time (04:00hrs GMT), the second race will get underway at 13:15hrs (05:15hrs GMT). The two rounds will be televised by Eurosport International and also be streamed live on the internet, at www.bmw-motorsport.com.