Weather: mostly sunny, with a dry track. PRACTICE 1 - FUNKE'S FORD FOCUS ON TOP Michael Funke was the surprise name that shot to the top of the timesheet at the start of first free practice and it remained there for the entire session....
Weather: mostly sunny, with a dry track.
PRACTICE 1 - FUNKE'S FORD FOCUS ON TOP
Michael Funke was the surprise name that shot to the top of the timesheet at the start of first free practice and it remained there for the entire session. The Ford Hotfiel Sport driver set a time of 1:33.062 in his Ford Focus within the first ten minutes and none of his competitors were able to better it. "I'm very happy, but not surprised, because we have tested a lot here. I know that if everything goes right in qualifying I can lap in the low 1:32s. I don't know if this will be enough to make the front row, but it should be for a top position."
The BMW cars of Jorg Muller and Andy Priaulx were second and third fastest, clocking times 0.195 and 0.332 slower than that of Funke.
Another unexpected outcome was that new Team Oreca Playstation driver, Stephane Ortelli was the quickest of the SEAT pack with the 4th best time overall (1:33.415), which he set on his last lap. Jordi Gene was right behind him in 5th spot which is an encouraging start for the new SEAT Leon.
Gabriele Tarquini was 0.461 of a second off the top time, making him 6th overall and the fastest Alfa Romeo driver. Chevrolet's best lap came from Alain Menu who clocked a 1:34.454 to take 17th place. Eric Helary, who is driving the Peugeot this weekend was 20th overall.
The best of the independent category was Marc Hennerici with the 15th best time. In fact, the top 15 times were within just one second of each other.
PRACTICE 2 NEW SEAT LEON IMPRESSES
The weekend has got to a great start for Ford and Michael Funke as they were once again, the quickest of the FIA WTCC field. With a time of 1:33.080, he was nearly half a second faster than anyone else. Alfa Romeo's Gabriele Tarquini set the second best time with six minutes remaining, while Jorg Muller was third in his BMW. SEAT were also among the top times with Jordi Gene completing the fourth fastest lap in the new Leon, 0.749 of a second off the lead pace. "I'm quite pleased. I have said that our new car may be surprisingly good on its first outing. I don't mean it can win, but perhaps a top-five result, which would be very good for us. And so far it is going well, especially when you think that on the first session I was on new tyres, but in the second I was on used tyres like everybody else."
A dirty track meant that many drivers spun off, Alessandro Zanardi being one of them. The BMW Team Italy-Spain man continued and in the late stages clocked a time of 1:34.230 to shoot to 6th. Behind him with the 7th best time overall and the fastest of the independent drivers was Stefano D'Aste.
Chevrolet drivers Robert Huff and Alain Menu posted their best lap times as the session drew to an end, claiming 9th and 11th spots respectively a good improvement on this morning's results.
Peugeot still appear to have difficulties finding the pace as Eric Helary's best time was the 25th quickest overall.
QUALIFYING VIRTUAL POLE FOR JORG MÜLLER
In a very close qualifying session Jorg Muller set the best time and a new lap record of 1:31.772. However, due to the implementation of a suspended penalty he incurred at Spa, he will begin Race 1 from 11th on the gird. This gives pole position to James Thompson of Alfa Romeo while his team-mate and last year's pole occupier, Augusto Farfus joins him on the front row, their times were just 0.154 and 0.177 of a second off that of Jorg's.
Andy Priaulx ensured it wasn't to be an Alfa Romeo 1-2-3 start tomorrow by using his last lap to set a time of 1:32.053. This secures him 3rd position on the grid at the wheel of his BMW Team UK car. Gabriele Tarquini will be right behind him in 4th place.
SEAT cars occupy 5th, 6th and 7th positions with Rickard Rydell, Stephane Ortelli and Peter Terting setting times within 0.220 seconds of each other. Jordi Gene claimed 9th spot at the wheel of the new Leon, with the BMW of Dirk Muller in 8th position splitting the SEAT squad.
Despite good performances in practice, Michael Funke was unable to make the top-ten in qualifying and will start the race 16th on the grid. His Ford Hotfiel Sport team-mate Thomas Klenke had more success and his time of 1:32.717 means a 10th place start the best yet for Ford.
Alain Menu was the fastest of the Chevrolets, 0.992 of a second off Jorg's pace so he will begin the race from 13th. The Peugeot 407 driven by Eric Helary did not manage to set a competitive time, resulting in position 27 on the grid. Proteam Motorsport's Giuseppe Cirò completed the best lap of the independent field and was 17th fastest overall.