Weather: rainy with a wet track during the morning practice, overcast with a drying track for qualifying. PRACTICE 1 ZANARDI FASTEST ON SLICKS The track was wet for the opening free practice session and it was clear to see drivers fighting for...
Weather: rainy with a wet track during the morning practice, overcast with a drying track for qualifying.
PRACTICE 1 ZANARDI FASTEST ON SLICKS
The track was wet for the opening free practice session and it was clear to see drivers fighting for grip in the slippery track. Despite this the session was incident free with Alessandro Zanardi setting the best time of 1:43.624 just before the chequered flag was waved. The BMW Team Italy-Spain driver was the only one who switched to slick tyres and managed to outpaced the rest of the field by almost two seconds. "It was still wet but it looked like there was enough grip to try," he commented.
Tom Coronel of GR Asia was at the top of the time sheet for the majority of the session before being demoted to second by Zanardi. The independent driver, who's best time was 1:45.511, headed his competitors as well as the SEAT drivers. Rickard Rydell, Yvan Muller, James Thompson, Peter Terting and Gabriele Tarquini all followed suit occupying 3rd through to 7th place.
Chevrolet's best time was set by Robert Huff who posted a 1:46.194 to place him 8th overall. Salvatore Tavano in his Alfa Romeo 156 completed the track in the 9th best time. The top ten was completed by Andy Priaulx at the wheel of his BMW 320si.
Jens Edman set the 21st fastest time in the Peugeot Sport Denmark Peugeot 407, while SEAT's newcomer Florian Gruber was 26th on his first real run in the Leon.
PRACTICE 2 - TARQUINI BEST IN THE WET
Gabriele Tarquini headed the field in the second free practice session which, with an increasingly wet track, saw numerous drivers straying off the asphalt. The top three times were all posted by SEAT men. Tarquini's time of 1:48.430 was followed by Rickard Rydell, 0.393 seconds slower, and then the young German Peter Terting.
In another trio were the BMW drivers Dirk Muller, Alessandro Zanardi and Andy Priaulx who completed the 4th, 5th and 6th fastest times respectively. Fellow BMW man, Marcel Costa was unable to redeem control of his BMW Team Italy-Spain car when he spun off at the Hotel turn. With 3 minutes remaining red flags were issued while the car was removed and the session resumed shortly afterwards.
As in this morning's session, Robert Huff set the best time from the Chevrolet crew; a 1:49.348. Coronel also repeated his command of the Independents' category, he set the 8th fastest time overall, 0.938 seconds off the lead pace.
In the final few minutes of the session Farfus posted his best time of 1:49.604 which was the best of the N.technology Alfa Romeo team and 10th overall.
Florian Gruber showed good progress, setting the 16th fastest time, while JAS Motorsport drivers Pierre-Yves Corthals and Ryan Sharp confirmed they can be quick in the wet, emerging as 2nd and 3rd of the privateers.
QUALIFYING PRIAULX GRABS POLE
Andy Priaulx will line up on pole tomorrow after mastering his very last lap of the qualifying session. His time of 1:35.661 was 0.180 seconds better than James Thompson who qualified second for SEAT. Thompson's team-mate Rickard Rydell completed the top three whose times were all within two tenths of a second.
Three red flags disrupted the session. The first was caused by Diego Romanini's car being stranded in the gravel after 15 minutes. Six minutes later it was SEAT Sport's new addition, Florian Gruber who stopped on the track at the Shell Esses, bringing out the red flags again. With three minutes remaining Maurizio Ceresoli crashed into a tyre wall and spectacularly spun across the track resulting in the third appearance of red flags. This left the field with one flying lap to show what they could do and the consequence was a frantic change of names at the top of the timesheet.
Gabriele Tarquini achieved the 4th best time to line up alongside Rydell on the second row. Alfa Romeo driver Augusto Farfus, who had been slightly off the pace in the practice sessions managed to pull out a successful lap to secure 5th on the grid. His team-mates Morbidelli and Tavano qualified 7th and 9th respectively. Out of the Chevrolet team it was Nicola Larini who obtained the best grid position. His 1:36.687 lap placed him 12th for tomorrow's race. Current championship leader Yvan Muller failed to retain the provisional pole he had set before the third red flag and dropped to 8th.
Luca Rangoni of Proteam Motorsport provisionally qualified a brilliant 10th and best of the Independents, but due to an earlier engine change will be dropped ten positions on the grid. The same penalty applies to Peugeot Sport Denmark driver Jens Edman who moves down from 17th to last, 27th.
Rangoni's penalty meant that Tom Coronel climbs to 11th overall and first of the Independents.