ETCC: Magny-Cours: Saturday notes

Free Practice and Qualifying WEATHER: Sunny and cold in the morning, with a drying track. Conditions improved later, the track dried-up completely and temperatures got warmer. FREE PRACTICE 1: GENE AND SEAT SET THE PACE The sun was shining...

Free Practice and Qualifying

WEATHER: Sunny and cold in the morning, with a drying track. Conditions improved later, the track dried-up completely and temperatures got warmer.

FREE PRACTICE 1: GENE AND SEAT SET THE PACE

The sun was shining in the early morning, when the session started; however the track was not completely dry after it rained all night.

As the racetrack dried up, the lap times went down; although they remained considerably slower compared to last year. SEAT Sport's cars set the pace, as Jordi Gene was able to clock the fastest time with a lap in 1:52.667 just before the checkered flag was waved. But even before the Spanish driver's best time, the other SEAT drivers proved that the Magny-Cours racetrack suits the Toledo Cupra well. Frank Diefenbacher and Rickard Rydell were finally ranked fifth and sixth in the session (half a second behind Gene), after holding first and second positions for a while.

Jorg and Dirk Muller, in the BMW Team Deutschland's cars, set the second and third fastest times with laps in 1:52.689 and 1:53.008 respectively. Augusto Farfus was the best Alfa Romeo driver, but he was only placed eighth fastest, 1.3 seconds behind the leader; his AutoDelta team-mates Fabrizio Giovanardi and Gabriele Tarquini were 12th and 20th.

Newcomer Kurt Mollekens set a promising ninth fastest time in the BMW Team Belgium-Luxembourg's car, as did Alessandro Balzan, 14th in the new JAS Motorsport Honda Accord.

FREE PRACTICE 2: PRIAULX FASTEST AHEAD OF DIRK MÜLLER

The track was completely dry, and lap times were immediately faster. Andy Priaulx, Frank Diefenbacher, Fabrizio Giovanardi, Tom Coronel and Jordi Gene all managed to go under the 1:52 barrier as soon as they hit the track. On his second lap, Priaulx improved to 1:51.037 and on his third he went down to 1:50.552 at the wheel of his BMW Team Great Britain's car.

No one was able to beat Priaulx's time, however a few drivers managed to reduce the gap. Rickard Rydell was the second to lap in the 1:50s (1:50.950), but he was soon demoted to third position by Dirk Muller (1:50.909). Confirming SEAT's good shape, Frank Diefenbacher clocked a time of 1:50.980, which placed him fourth behind his team-mate Rydell.

Coronel set the fastest time in the Independents Trophy and placed a brilliant sixth overall, 3.971), behind Antonio Garcia, but ahead of Jorg Muller, Giovanardi, Jordi Gene and Alessandro Zanardi.

Jan Magnussen's Peugeot 307 was ranked 15th, while the best Ford and Honda cars were Roland Asch's Focus (18th) and Alessandro Balzan's Accord (19th).

QUALIFYING: JORG AND DIRK MAKE IT AN ALL-BMW FRONT ROW

BMW Team Deutschland's team-mates Jorg and Dirk Muller will share the front row on the starting grid for tomorrow's ETCC round 5. The two German drivers set the fastest times during a very tough qualifying session which saw the first twelve cars covered by only one second, and an improvement of nearly two seconds compared to the lap times set in 2003.

Frank Diefenbacher qualified third in his SEAT Toledo Cupra, giving the Spanish Manufacturer its best-ever qualifying result, while the Alfa Romeo AutoDelta men -- who had dominated two weeks ago in Valencia -- struggled to match the pace.

A record field of 25 cars took part in the session, and four minutes into it Rickard Rydell started the hostilities with a lap of 1:50.111. SEAT's Swede was immediately ousted by his team-mate Diefenbacher's 1:49.667, which gave the German youngster provisional pole. However, soon the BMW drivers made clear they were aiming to steal the pole from SEAT. One after the other, Jorg Muller (1:49.768), Andy Priaulx (1:49.738), Antonio Garcia (1:49.854) and Dirk Muller (1:49.749) managed to close the gap from Diefenbacher. Then, with only five minutes left, Jorg put in his best performance with a lap of 1:49.357, claiming the pole position for good. Priaulx responded with a 1:49.562 which gave him the second position only for a few seconds, as Diefenbacher immediately clocked a time of 1:49.509, demoting the Briton to third; in his turn the German driver was ousted from the second place by Dirk's lap of 1:49.468 just as the session ended.

Augusto Farfus was the fastest of the Alfa Romeo works drivers, and qualified sixth with a lap in 1:49.812, just head of his team-mates Tarquini and Giovanardi. Oregon Team's Michele Bartyan emerged as the best in the Independents Trophy, also managing to break into the top-ten of the overall classification. This was the first pole in the Trophy for the Austrian driver.

-fia/etcc-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series General
Drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi , Andy Priaulx , Antonio Garcia , Dirk Müller , Jan Magnussen , Tom Coronel , Jorg Muller , Frank Diefenbacher , Augusto Farfus , Rickard Rydell , Alessandro Balzan , Gabriele Tarquini , Jordi Gene , Kurt Mollekens , Michele Bartyan , Roland Asch