A front-row start to the season for SEAT Sport After the first qualifying session for the 2006 FIA World Touring Car Championship, the grid for the season's opening race will see 5 of the top 11 places occupied by SEAT Sport cars, with the Leon of...
A front-row start to the season for SEAT Sport After the first qualifying session for the 2006 FIA World Touring Car Championship, the grid for the season's opening race will see 5 of the top 11 places occupied by SEAT Sport cars, with the Leon of Yvan Muller in 2nd place on the grid.
The Monza circuit saw the top 15 cars lap within a second of each other, demonstrating the closeness of the WTCC series, with Muller holding provisional pole position for much of the 30-minute session.
Reigning World Champion Andy Priaulx snatched pole position away from Yvan with only a few minutes of the session remaining, denying SEAT Sport a sensational start to the season at the team's least favourite circuit of the year. Getting an aerodynamic "tow" is crucial to a good qualifying time at Monza and the SEAT Sport drivers worked hard to help each other.
James Thompson provided the tow for Muller to set his lap time, only to be denied the Frenchman's help when a front-end vibration forced Yvan's car to remain in the pits; James then qualified 6th, with Rickard Rydell in 8th position.
Gabriele Tarquini will start Race 1 from 9th place on the grid after making a slight error while trying to get a tow from Thompson in the dying minutes of the session. Jordi Gene was another driver who was frustrated by the failure to obtain a good tow and so the Spaniard will start round 1 of the 2006 WTCC from 11th on the grid.
Unluckiest of all was Peter Terting. The German driver had performed well in both the morning's practice sessions, but his qualifying session only lasted until the first chicane on his opening lap. An engine problem forced the Leon to limp back to the pits and so Peter's first race of the season will start from the back row of the grid.
Yvan Muller (2nd): "I'm a little surprised at my grid position, because all the experienced guys were saying that the Leon isn't good here! We worked hard in the practice sessions to get a good set-up and had a strategy to give each other a tow. It worked for me, but the vibration meant that they wouldn't let me out to help James. Our performance has shown that anything is possible tomorrow."
James Thompson (6th): "Qualifying wasn't bad at all, although we had a bit of a flaw in our plan. I towed Yvan for the first session and it was my turn to get a tow from him but he couldn't go back out and so that left me out on my own. I'm actually very pleased with sixth place, considering we thought we'd struggle here. Anything can happen in the races; it'll be difficult but I'm really encouraged by what we did today."
Rickard Rydell (8th): "I'd have been more than happy if you'd said that I'd be eighth this morning. Almost half the cars in the top 11 are ours and so, with Yvan qualifying second, I have to say that I'm very happy. If we're this quick in Monza, we should be very strong just about everywhere else because we were expecting this to be the absolute worst circuit of the year."
Gabriele Tarquini (9th): "To be honest, I'm very happy with the set-up and the balance of the car but I just didn't get the luck I needed. I was a little too close to James on my quick lap and I lost the tow from him when he missed his braking a little going into the first chicane. If you find a good tow here, it means one second, more or less."
Jordi Gene (11th): "It was okay, but it could have been worse. I tried to get a tow from Dirk Muller, but he didn't like the idea and outbraked me at Parabolica! I tried again with Andy Priaulx at the end, but it's difficult trying to get a tow from a BMW. It wasn't great, but it's better than we expected; we have a car and a chassis that is capable of much more than this -- we just don't have the speed on the straights"
Peter Terting (35th): "The practice sessions were good for me, but qualifying was really unlucky. I had some kind of engine problem just after the first chicane, so my qualifying was over after 400 metres. I don't plan to give up and I'll be trying my best tomorrow, but starting from the back row of the grid and trying to overtake so many cars won't be easy."
Round 1 begins at 15.05 on Sunday, with Round 2 at 16.15 (local time). The finishing positions for Round 1 will dictate the grid for Round 2, with the top 8 run in reverse order.