Farfus claims pole position for BMW in Japan - Muller comes second.
Okayama, 25th October 2008. Augusto Farfus (BR) and Jorg Muller (DE) claimed the best-possible result for their team in qualifying for the 21st round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship in Okayama (JP): BMW Team Germany's Farfus set the fastest lap of the day, which was 1:37.040 minutes. Muller finished second, crossing the line 0.227 seconds slower than his team-mate. Thus Schnitzer Motorsport's driver pairing secured both spots on the front row of the grid for Sunday's first sprint race at the "Okayama International Circuit". Felix Porteiro (ES) posted the ninth-fastest lap time for BMW Team Italy-Spain in the WTCC's debut qualifying in Japan. BMW Team UK's Andy Priaulx (GB) will start from 11th on the grid. Porteiro's team-mate, Alessandro Zanardi (IT), had to make do with 18th on the timesheets.
As was the case in Pau (FR) and Brands Hatch (GB), Farfus was the dominant force in qualifying, living up to expectations after setting the pace in every test and practice session so far this weekend. "Despite these promising results we just couldn't be sure to be on top in qualifying as well," said the 25-year-old. "But everything worked out perfectly, and now I'm just absolutely happy. I'm also happy for the team, which deserves such a result after all the bad luck we suffered this season. Unfortunately I'm no longer involved in the fight for the drivers' title. But we will do our best to score as many points for BMW on Sunday, just to keep alive the theoretical chance of defending the manufacturers' crown."
Farfus controlled the pace in qualifying from the word go and took the lead after his first attempt. Half way through the session, he improved further and consolidated his lead. Farfus aborted another promising lap in the dying seconds of the 30-minute session, as at that time none of his rivals were able to challenge him for pole. "Augusto was driving in a class of his own," said an impressed Muller. "I had to do a lot of work to get to his level. I'm happy that I succeeded. It's nice to share the front row of the grid with your team-mate, and hopefully we can fend off the attacks from the competition during the rolling start."
Priaulx, the only BMW driver who is still in with a chance to win the drivers' title, was less happy with his qualifying result. "I never like to make excuses but here things just conspired against me," he said. "I was on a good lap when a car went off and caused the yellow flags to come out, and then on my next attempt traffic played its part again. The car was good at the start of the weekend, and I just want to find that speed again."
Race one at the "Okayama International Circuit" will start on Sunday at 14:35hrs local time (5:35hrs GMT), the second race will get underway at 16:05hrs (7:05hrs GMT). The two rounds will be televised by Eurosport International. The races will also be streamed live on the internet, at www.bmw-motorsport.com.