Three BMW drivers qualify for top-ten grid positions in Morocco. Marrakech, 2nd May 2009. In qualifying for the fifth round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) in Marrakech (MA), a trio of BMW drivers successfully made it into the...
Three BMW drivers qualify for top-ten grid positions in Morocco.
Marrakech, 2nd May 2009. In qualifying for the fifth round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) in Marrakech (MA), a trio of BMW drivers successfully made it into the top-ten. BMW privateer, Franz Engstler (DE), surprised everyone by setting a 1:51.643-minute lap and taking eighth on the grid for his team at the "Circuit de Marrakech". BMW Team Germany's Jorg Muller (DE) finished ninth. Due to damaging a tyre early on in the session, the 39-year-old was denied the chance to compete for top positions in the second part of qualifying.
BMW Team UK driver, Andy Priaulx (GB), also managed to qualify for "Q2" after coming eighth in the first phase. However, following an unlucky collision with BMW Team Italy-Spain's Sergio Hernandez (ES), who finished 18th, shortly before the end of "Q1" the triple world champion was also robbed of his chance to secure a better result. Hernandez' team-mate, Alessandro Zanardi (IT) missed "Q2" by just 0.003 seconds and had to make do with 11th. Augusto Farfus (BR) came 13th for BMW Team Germany.
"Obviously I'm totally over the moon," said Engstler after his impressive performance. "Normally circuits like this one here in Marrakech don't really suit my driving style. Therefore I'm even happier now that I made it into the top-ten. I didn't expect this at all. Now I'm fired up to take the Independents' win tomorrow from P8." Muller qualified for "Q2" by coming ninth in the first phase. He was on his warm-up lap, when a shredded tyre destroyed all his hopes of improving. "I went over the kerbs too aggressively," said the German. "That's why my tyre got ripped off the rim. Overall I'm disappointed about how big our gap to the front-runners is here. Nevertheless, I will give my all in the races, as many things can happen on tracks as narrow as this one."
Priaulx also suffered a dose of bad luck. He had just set the eighth-fastest lap time, and secured his ticket to "Q2", when he collided with Hernandez in Turn 1 and damaged the right rear section of his car. With the help of the track marshals Priaulx managed to get back on track and make it to the pits. As he had received outside assistance, Priaulx was not allowed to take part in the second qualifying phase. The Guernsey-man will start the first race on African soil on Sunday from tenth.
"Had anyone told me I would make it into the top-ten, I wouldn't have believed it," commented Priaulx. "Compared to the front-runners, our car is clearly lacking performance. I don't blame Sergio for our accident. A big thank you to Alessandro Zanardi, who gave me the crucial tow just before this incident."
Pole position in Marrakech was secured by Chevrolet's Robert Huff (GB) who relegated his team-mate, Alain Menu (CH), and SEAT driver Gabriele Tarquini (IT) to second and third respectively. The fifth race of the FIA World Touring Car Championship will start on 13:05hrs local time (14:05hrs BST) on Sunday, race two will get underway at 14:20hrs (15:20hrs BST).