ETCC: European Super Production A1-Ring qualifying report

Fia Super Production Championship Round 7 Qualifying Session Report Weather It was sunny and hot when the Super Production cars began their 30-minute qualifying session. Overview 19 drivers took part in the session. Reigning Lithuanian Touring...

Fia Super Production Championship
Round 7
Qualifying Session Report

It was sunny and hot when the Super Production cars began their 30-minute qualifying session.

19 drivers took part in the session. Reigning Lithuanian Touring Car champion Egidijus Dapšas was entered for this round but did not make the trip to Austria after demolishing his Oktanas Racing Team Honda Integra in a private test session. New to the championship are Belgian Touring Car legend Jean-Michel Martin, at the wheel of the nr 15 Carly Motorsport BMW 320i, and Italian team-mates Andrea Bacci and Alberto Viglione in the two Autofficina Rally Peugeot 306s.

Rustad gives Nissan the first pole of the season
After setting the best time in the morning free practice, Tommy Rustad was also the fastest driver in qualifying. The Norwegian claimed provisional pole with a time of 1:46.104 in his 4th lap, 11 minutes into the session, improving it on the following lap to 1:46.091. Though firmly in the lead, Rustad made another attempt at the end of the session, improving to 1:45.635 and leaving his closest competitor more than half a second behind. It was the first pole position of the season for Rustad and his RJN Motorsport Nissan Primera.

For the first time of the year, the BMW drivers were left to fight for the second and third spots of the starting grid, with Ravaglia Motorsport driver Peter Kox setting a time of 1:46.687. Kox was in second position for most of the session but he was eventually ousted by Gianni Morbidelli. With less then a second left in the session, the former Formula One driver clocked a time of 1:46.182, relegating Kox to the third place. Morbidelli had made a cautious start in the session, improving lap after lap.

Fourth on the starting grid will be Luis Villamil, who obtained his best qualifying result of the season so far. At the wheel of his Bigazzi Alfa Romeo 156, the Spaniard set a time of 1:46.921 halfway through the session, which placed him fifth. Ten minutes later he improved to 1:46.530, climbing up to a provisional 3rd; but then slipped down to 4th when Morbidelli posted his best lap.

Super Production Championship leader Duncan Huisman and his Carly Motorsport BMW 320i could not do any better than a 5th place on the grid, just in front of the second Bigazzi driver Tobia Masini. The young Italian's 6th time proved that the Alfa Romeo 156s have significantly improved their performance.

Although Rustad opened a gap of half a second between him and his pursuers, the rest of them set times very close to each other. Only 0.7 seconds separated Morbidelli in second place from Simon in seventh. As for Norman Simon, Kox's Ravaglia Motorsport team-mate, he lost all hope of setting a better time when he spun at the Gerhard Berger chicane and stopped in the gravel trap, 9 minutes from the end of the session. The best of the newcomers was Jean-Michel Martin, who made the top-ten by setting the ninth time. The Peugeots of Bacci and Viglione were classified 13th and 19th respectively.


Peter Kox - nr 1 Ravaglia Motorsport BMW : "We have had a difficult day, because we discovered this morning that my engine was starting to have problems. It was a close call, because if we had changed it after the qualifying I should have lost my position, but the team was absolutely brilliant and managed to change it before the session. I am very confident now, because I set the third time. I still have new tyres for the race and the two drivers who topped me in qualifying are not fighting for the championship. That doesn't mean that I will not try to stay with them and to win the race, but in the end I'm happy to be the only Dutchman in the top three so far."

Tommy Rustad - nr 3 RJN Motorsport Nissan : "Of course I'm very happy to have set pole position. It was the logical consequence of the work we did since the beginning of the season. Our car improved race after race and we could have achieved this result already in the previous round at Budapest. I must say that this racetrack suits our car, which has an advantage in top speed and under braking. My first qualifying times were good enough for the pole, but I made a slight mistake in my second attempt, so I wanted to try a third one and I managed to improve by 6 tenths."

Gianni Morbidelli - nr 5 CiBiEmme Team BMW : "The second position on the grid is a good result for me and the team and it was even sweeter as I obtained it right at the end of the session. But qualifying is not so important and I am staying focused on the race. It was a difficult season so far for us, with a lot of ups and downs. We really need to finish the race tomorrow and in a good position."

Duncan Huisman - nr 14 Carly Motorsport BMW : "I'm puzzled. The car was so good in the free practice on old tyres. I changed something in the set up of the rear suspension and it seemed to me that the handling of the car was improved. I had a very good feeling in cornering, I could open full throttle earlier, but my times were not good enough. I think that maybe we have too much grip. We have to study the telemetry and see what was wrong in order to do some further changes for the race."

Jean-Michel Martin - nr 15 Carly Motorsport BMW : "I am a bit disappointed, because I was more effective in the free practice than in qualifying. It's clear I must learn how to use the car in the best way, I have only driven a Super Production BMW once before, at the 1999 24 Hours of Spa and I really can't believe how much these cars have improved since then."

Luis Villamil - nr 18 Bigazzi Alfa Romeo : "In the one and a half month since Budapest we have worked so much to develop the car. Today's result proves that we are on the right track. It's a shame I lost the third position right at the end of the session, but I'm happy anyway, because now I know that our car can be competitive and not only on this track. I believe that if tomorrow I will be able to stay in the leading group, I could aim for a podium position."

Conrero - nr 20 and nr 21 Alfa Romeos : Ettore Bonaldi spoiled both his best lap by twice going off the track with new tyres ; once at the Jochen Rindt curve and once at the Gerhard Berger chicane. Fulvio Cavicchi complained about his engine, having lost 7/8 km in top speed after the free practice.

Andrea Bacci - nr 27 Autofficina Rally Peugeot : "I am happy with my 13th place, because at the beginning of he session I was almost blocked by the emotion of racing in the European Championship. I am absolutely impressed by the level of professionalism and driving in the series but as the session went on, I gained confidence. The car is perfect and it's up to me now to improve a bit more. It's a shame that I lost the second free practice session due to a clutch failure."


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Series General
Drivers Norman Simon , Gerhard Berger , Peter Kox , Bonaldi Ettore , Duncan Huisman , Gianni Morbidelli , Jean-Michel Martin , Tommy Rustad