Eighth place for James Thompson and the Alfa Romeo 156

N.Technology Alfa Romeo turned a difficult start to today's qualifying session into a strong result around the streets of Macau for the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) final race weekend.

Currently fourth in the drivers standings, James Thompson claimed eighth fastest at the wheel of his Alfa Romeo 156 in the closing laps of the session whilst team-mate Andre Couto's efforts were cut short following an incident within minutes of the green flag.

The Macanese driver was unable to rejoin the 45-minute qualifying session, missing out on converting his earlier pace into a top starting position. This morning's free practices had seen Couto claim third and fifth fastest times.

Driving without the advantage of following his team-mate's slipstream, Thompson still qualified ahead of two of his title rivals Andy Priaulx and Joerg Mueller, putting the N.Technology driver into solid contention for tomorrow's championship-deciding races.

James Thompson, car number 15

"I really couldn't have driven any harder today. I'm very disappointed not to have had the ‘team-mate advantage'. I tried to use other cars to get a tow instead but unfortunately I couldn't get close enough.

"Eighth position, taking this into account, isn't bad; although I know we would have been in the top four with a tow."

Andre Couto, car number 66

"I went out on my lap, looking forward to supporting James as well as qualifying upfront but clipped the inside of the wall on my first lap and damaged the car on its front right hand side. I hope we can repair the car in time for tomorrow to make up for this."

Andrea Muller, Team Manager

"Obviously, with Couto crashing we lost our advantage to use the slipstream and had to rely on other cars for a tow."

-credit: ntechnology.com.