ETCC: Austrian A-1 Ring qualifying

EURO STC QUALIFYING - weather: cloudy, track: dry, temperature 15°C. Peter Kox claimed his second pole of the season in the European Super Touring Cup. At the wheel of his JAS Honda Accord, the Dutchman set a new Super Touring...

EURO STC QUALIFYING - weather: cloudy, track: dry, temperature 15°C.

Peter Kox claimed his second pole of the season in the European Super Touring Cup. At the wheel of his JAS Honda Accord, the Dutchman set a new Super Touring record for the Austrian A-1 Ring, smashing the previous one by 1.8 seconds. "I'm quite pleased - he said - because my car was really good. As in Pergusa, two weeks ago, I have to thank my team, because again they did a great job on the car's set-up, despite they had never been here before". Kox, who's actually trailing by 7 points Alfa Romeo's Fabrizio Giovanardi in the series classification, will try tomorrow to regain the leadership he lost in Sicily.

And Giovanardi will start at his side in race-one. The series point leader was 0.6 seconds slower than his rival. "The 40-kg weight handicap due to my double win in Pergusa - he explained - proved effective. Despite it, I should have been a little bit quicker, but I made a mistake at a braking that it forced me back to the pits to rotate the tyres".

Nicola Larini will line-up third on the grid. He lost second position to teammate Giovanardi by a mere 20 hundredths of a second. "Unfortunately I had some troubles in overtaking a slower car - he declared - and I lost the chance to improve. But I'm confident I will be on the pace for the race".

Fourth today, Roberto Colciago hopes he can also be a factor in the race. "I was really looking forward to this track - he admitted - because I knew it suited very well to my four-wheel-driven Audi A4. Honestly, after the morning practice, I thought I could even do better, but I'm happy with my fourth time. If tomorrow will rain, I will have a great chance, but it won't be easy anyway".

And it could be wet, indeed, as Saturday in late afternoon a light rain falled on the track.

Out of the pace, at the moment, are the two CiBiEmme BMWs. Gianni Morbidelli set 5th time, 1.5 seconds slower that the polesitter; while teammate Emanuele Naspetti placed 7th, with almost a 2-second gap from the pole. They both complained about the set-up of their cars.

Playing another strong performance, Gianluca De Lorenzi qualified 6th, that will line-up his Alfa 156 between the BMWs of Morbidelli and Naspetti. Sandro Sardelli was almost as good; he drove his Isert BMW to set the 8th best time, just 0.2 seconds behind Naspetti.

Massimo Pigoli and Andrej Studenic managed to make the top-tens; the young Slovak did it despite a power-steering problem that forced him to miss the free practice. Studenic had a good training on Friday, when he won the Slovenian Touring Car championship's race at the wheel of the very same Audi A4 he drives in Euro STC.

Series' newcomers Gianluca Roda and Oliver Mayer met some troubles in qualifying.

"Both, my car and me went rusty and we need some time to get back in the racing mood" Roda said, after he qualified his Opel 16th on the grid. Mayer closed the time ranking; a disappointing result for him. "I'm not driving my own car - he declared - but Michael Bartels's from the 1999 German championship, ran by the Phoenix Team. We had transmission problems: both the clutch and differential collapsed. It's a shame, because I like this track and I'm sure I could be in the top-tens".

Mayer set the slowest time, but it will be Guido Lucchetti to start from the last spot of the grid, later he had his times disallowed for an engine change: "I fitted a new engine for qualifying, but it blew as well", he said. {B} Sunday timetable: 11.10-11.25 warm-up 14.30 start of race-one (12 laps) 15.30 start of race-two (12 laps)

Supporting races: Austrian F3 and Touring Car Championships, Western and Central European Ferrari Challenges TV coverage: Sunday afternoon live on Eurosport, 14.20 Central European Time.

QUALIFYING RESULTS

1.  Peter Kox (NL)          JAS Engineering  Honda Accord           1:36.110  161.74 kmh
2.  Fabrizio Giovanardi (I) Alfa Romeo Nordauto  Alfa Romeo 156     1:36.749  + 0.639
3.  Nicola Larini (I)       Alfa Romeo Nordauto  Alfa Romeo 156     1:36.769  + 0.649
4.  Roberto Colciago (I)    AGS Motorsport  Audi A4 Quattro         1:37.389  + 1.279
5.  Gianni Morbidelli       BMW Team CiBiEmme  BMW 320i E36         1:37.644  + 1.534
6.  Gianluca De Lorenzi (I) Nordauto Engineering  Alfa Romeo 156    1:37.729  + 1.619
7.  Emanuele Naspetti (I)   BMW Team CiBiEmme  BMW 320i E36         1:38.011  + 1.901
8.  Sandro Sardelli (I)     Team Isert  BMW 320i E36                1:38.219  + 2.109
9.  Massimo Pigoli (I)      Christy's Team  BMW 320i E36            1:38.610  + 2.500
10. Andrej Studenic (SK)    National Team Slovakia  Audi A4 Quattro 1:39.019  + 2.909
11. Stefano Gabellini (I)   Christy's Team  BMW 320i E36            1:39.089  + 2.979
12. Romana Bernardoni (I)   Nordauto Engineering  Alfa Romeo 156    1:39.341  + 3.231
13. Moreno Soli (I)         Soli Racing Team  Alfa Romeo 156        1:40.004  + 3.894
14. Andrzej Dziurka (PL)    Alda Motorsport  Audi A4 Quattro        1:40.013  + 3.903
15. Stefano Bonello (I)     AGS Motorsport  Audi A4 Quattro         1:40.575  + 4.465
16. Gianluca Roda (I)       Greyhound Racing  Opel Vectra 16V       1:40.667  + 4.557
17. Oliver Mayer (D)        Mayer Motorsport  Audi A4 Quattro       1:42.144  + 6.034
18. Guido Lucchetti (I)     Nath Racing  Audi A4 Quattro  no time *  

* Lucchetti: times disallowed for engine change

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Series General
Drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi , Michael Bartels , Peter Kox , Emanuele Naspetti , Gianni Morbidelli , Nicola Larini , Roberto Colciago , Oliver Mayer , Stefano Gabellini , Gianluca Roda