BMW driver Farfus escapes crash unhurt - Priaulx starts from the third row.
Pau (France), 02nd June 2007. A spectacular accident for Augusto Farfus (BRA) overshadowed qualifying for the seventh round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship in France. At the "Circuit de Pau" the BMW Team Germany driver rolled his BMW 320si WTCC two and a half times in the dying seconds of the session, but fortunately walked away from his heavily damaged car without a scratch. Before the shunt, Farfus had set the third-fastest lap time in 1:22.379 minutes. Chevrolet's Alain Menu (SUI) secured pole position with Yvan Muller (FRA/SEAT) claiming second place on tomorrow's grid. Andy Priaulx (GBR) of BMW Team UK finished the session in seventh place, despite carrying 55 kilograms of handicap weight. Due to a 10-place grid penalty for his fellow BMW driver, the defending World Touring Car Champion will start the first of two sprint races from sixth position.
Directly after qualifying, however, Farfus's state of health was the most important thing. The 23-year-old got out of his BMW 320si WTCC by himself and was soon able to give the all-clear. "I'm okay - but really angry with myself," he said. "I'm the one to blame for this accident. At the end of qualifying I just pushed to hard, and unfortunately it went wrong. I lost the rear of my car, hit the barriers and then got onto the grass hill with one wheel, which finally caused the roll. However, BMW builds extremely safe cars! I hope that the team will manage to repair the car. We have been doing very well here so far."
In Pau the drivers had more time at their disposal to set a fast lap time. For all three street circuits on the calendar - the WTCC will also race on public streets in Porto and Macau later this year - the qualifying session has been extended from 30 to 45 minutes. Farfus went out five times and continually improved his lap time, and the same applied to Priaulx. The 32-year-old, who is currently ranked second in the Drivers' Championship, commented: "I recorded my fastest lap time on used tyres. Each time I was running on a fresh set, I got stuck in traffic. Therefore, I'm really satisfied with this result. Handicap weight gravely influences your lap times on this track."
Felix Porteiro (ESP) set the tenth-fastest time for BMW Team Italy-Spain and - like Priaulx - will gain one place on tomorrow's starting grid because of Farfus's penalty. Championship leader Jorg Muller (GER), however, experienced a less successful session. The BMW Team Germany driver, who is also carrying 55 kilograms of extra weight, lost valuable track time due to changing a broken damper. At the end of the day he had to make do with 17th best time. Porteiro's team-mate Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) was 18th quickest. Nevertheless Muller and Zanardi are well-advised not to give up early on their hopes for points. What happens in Monaco for Formula 1 also applies for the WTCC races in the narrow streets of Pau: Everything is possible.
The seventh round of the World Touring Car Championship starts on Sunday at 10:05hrs (live on Eurosport 2). The lights go out for race two at 15:35hrs (live on Eurosport).