Valencia: BMW qualifying report

Four BMW drivers qualify for top-ten positions in wet Valencia qualifying. Valencia, 17th May 2008. In qualifying for the fifth round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship in Valencia (ES), the BMW national team drivers kept alive...

Four BMW drivers qualify for top-ten positions in wet Valencia qualifying.

Valencia, 17th May 2008. In qualifying for the fifth round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship in Valencia (ES), the BMW national team drivers kept alive their hopes of a successful race weekend despite very difficult conditions. BMW Team UK's Andy Priaulx (GB) clocked a 1:59.941-minute lap, thus emerging as the fastest BMW driver at the "Circuit de la Comunitat" and securing fifth on the grid. Behind the defending champion, BMW Team Germany's Jorg Muller (DE) and Augusto Farfus (BR) and BMW Team Italy-Spain's Alessandro Zanardi (IT) finished sixth, seventh and eighth respectively. Zanardi's team-mate Felix Porteiro (ES) will start from 12th. SEAT driver Yvan Muller (FR) claimed pole position with a time of 1:58.816 minutes.

Half an hour before the start of qualifying a heavy rain shower arrived at the 4.005- kilometre track. The track stayed wet as it rained during the entire 30-minute session. Due to the weather the Spanish fans witnessed many spins and off-track excursions - included in these were the BMW drivers. Turn 8 specially posed a challenge as numerous cars made full use of the run-off area here.

"This qualifying session was very close," said Priaulx, who is currently ranked fifth in the Drivers' Championship. "I think most of us had at least one off during the 30 minutes. I'm very happy with fifth place. I hope we can get a good result from there and feel positive for both races. It was the first test of the new wet tyres and it went well."

The BMW Team Germany drivers are equally determined to make it to the front in the two sprint races. "At least the rain didn't come as a surprise," commented Muller. "Therefore, my car felt quite good in the wet. The run-off area in turn 8 is relatively generous, so a lot of drivers experimented there. When I was on my way back onto the track after a minor off Yvan Muller - also off the racing line - was heading straight in my direction. Fortunately he managed to regain control of his car just in time to avoid an accident." Farfus added: "In this qualifying luck was an important factor if you wanted to do a perfect lap. I'm not really disappointed, but you always want to be quicker and make the most of your chances. In free practice we proved we are competitive in dry conditions, so I'm confident for tomorrow."

The fifth round of the World Touring Car Championship will start at 12:05hrs local time (11:05hrs BST). The second race of the day gets underway at 15:50hrs (14:50hrs BST). The two races are covered live by Eurosport (Race 1 - Eurosport 2, Race 2 - Eurosport International) and the official BMW Motorsport Website.

-credit: bmw-motorsport.com

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