FIA European Touring Car Championship - Oschersleben - Qualifying Weather: Overcast and windy with a dry track. CORONEL CLAIMS POLE POSITION AFTER BMW ONE-TWO-THREE-FOUR After the rule changes which came into force before this meeting, ...
FIA European Touring Car Championship - Oschersleben - Qualifying
Weather: Overcast and windy with a dry track.
CORONEL CLAIMS POLE POSITION AFTER BMW ONE-TWO-THREE-FOUR
After the rule changes which came into force before this meeting, BMW dominated today's qualifying session. Four of the German manufacturer's drivers will occupy the first four places on tomorrow's starting grid.
Fastest in the morning free practice, Tom Coronel repeated his performance to claim his first pole position in the FIA European Touring Car Championship. At the wheel of his Carly Motors BMW 320i, the Dutchman was once more the only driver able to break the time barrier; after being the only driver to go under 1:35 in free practice, his car was the only one to lap under 1:34 in qualifying.
Coronel first moved into the top positions when he set a time of 1:34.645 ten minutes into the session, placing him second, behind provisional polesitter Rydell. With only six minutes left in the session, Coronel made another attempt and set an astonishing lap 1:33.992, which secured pole.
BMW Team Belgium's Fredrik Ekblom tried hard to claim pole. In the early stages the Swedish driver was second behind his fellow countryman Rydell, having set a time of 1:34.775. Then Ekblom managed to improve to 1:34.098, giving him provisional pole halfway through the session, before being pushed down to second position by Coronel's last lap.
Schnitzer Motorsport team-mates Dirk and Jorg Muller fought between themselves for third place on the grid. Dirk was driving very aggressively and managed to claim provisional pole 13 minutes into the session, with a lap of 1:34.234. He improved again to 1:34.111 towards the end of the session and jumped ahead of Jorg, whose best time remained 1:34.231.
Best of the non-BMW drivers was Rickard Rydell in his Prodrive-built Volvo. The Swede set a provisional pole on his first lap out of the pits with a time of 1:34.762, improving on his free practice time by 1.1seconds. A few minutes later, Rydell improved again to 1:34.417 and kept the provisional pole until Dirk Muller ousted him. However, the Volvo driver did not give up and was able to cut another 1.5 tenths of a second off his time, improving to 1:34.269, to secure fifth place on the grid.
Another BMW driver set the sixth time: Jordi Gene with the fastest of the two BMW Team Spain cars. Gene, who was placed as high as fourth in the first third of the session, set his best time of 1:34.776 and was classified just ahead of current Championship leader Fabrizio Giovanardi.
The Alfa Romeo driver struggled to be on the pace and clocked a time of 1:34.845 that placed him seventh, with a 0.8-second gap from the pole position.
Nicola Larini's Alfa Romeo 156 Gta, James Hanson's Volvo S60 and Fabrizio De Simone's BMW 320i completed the top-ten positions.
Eric Cayrolle and Thomas Klenke were the most disappointed drivers today. They both only managed to complete a few laps before their cars were plagued by gearbox problems. Cayrolle's Scuderia Bigazzi Alfa Romeo 156 Gta was classified 18th just behind Klenke's Hotfiel Sport Ford Focus ST170.
NOTES AND QUOTES
Tom Coronel -- nr 7 Carly Motors: "I didn't believe it. I saw the time of 1:33.992 come up on the dashboard and thought it was a mistake, but then I saw it up on the pit board on the next time round. I found out that I had to cut the chicane more -- it worked on the first time, but on the second time, I broke the front splitter and had to come in. This morning, I used new tyres in the free practice session, which turned out to be very useful. This is a BMW circuit, and the 180 corners are favourable to us, as we can play with the throttle. As for the rule changes, we have 30 kg less, meaning a difference of about three tenths, and 500 rpm, which does not make any difference to the speed in qualifying, but means we can fight more in the race."
Fredrik Ekblom -- nr 10 BMW Team Belgium: "I know the track very well, because I tested a BMW Super Production car here in the springtime, and I did around 40 or 50 laps. This is the reason I was able to set fast laps from the beginning of the session. Despite this I am a bit disappointed with my qualifying performance today, but after all it is my best position this season so far, and I should be happy because I will start Race 1 from the front row alongside Coronel. I finished on the podium in Anderstorp and I think that tomorrow I have a good chance to claim my first win in the Championship."
Dirk Muller -- nr 42 BMW Team Deutschland: "I think this is the last track this season where we will be able to show our speed, so we need to take advantage of it and win the race. I was a bit disappointed as I had traffic on both my outings during qualifying, and did not manage to find a clear lap. I thought I could get pole. Now I will be on the second row of the starting grid, with two other rear-wheel drive cars in front of me, so I am sure that the first race will be very difficult."
Rickard Rydell -- nr 60 Volvo S60 Racing Team: "We seemed to be able to set the times on the first run on new tyres, when everyone else needed one or two goes before they could go quickly. I did two really good qualifying runs and I was happy with the consecutive lap times I managed to set early in the session. We have made some technical improvements for this race; if I had had them for Anderstorp I think I could have easily won. My qualifying times proved that we can be competitive in pure performance, but tomorrow I will start fifth, with four BMW rear-wheel drive cars in front of me and it's clear that they will take a better start and will have less tyre wear problems in the race."
Jordi Gene -- nr 5 BMW Team Spain: "I'm happy with my sixth position, but not with my time. I should have done better. I need another three tenths to be happy. But we have done an honest job. It was a bit strange that all the others managed to set their best times in the first lap on new tyres, while my car had no grip on the first lap and was fastest on the third. Maybe we have done something wrong in the set-up or the tyre pressure. I have to say that this is a track that suits BMW very well and we can get the most out of our gearbox ratios."
Fabrizio Giovanardi -- nr 1 Gta Racing Team Nordauto: "It's perfectly clear that we have not been able to adapt our car to the new rules or to the track. On one hand BMW definitely benefited from the rule changes in terms of weight and engine speed, but on the other hand I don't want to cry and to put all the blame on this. We have to cope with these new regulations, working on the car to identify and solve the problems we had today. I know we can do it."
Nicola Larini -- nr 2 Gta Racing Team Nordauto: "We expected to be handicapped by the new regulations, but we did not expect to be so far behind. We were thinking of a half a second improvement for BMW, but they improved by one second. Now the situation has been turned upside-down, because if before Alfa Romeo's domination resulted in only Giovanardi and me at the top, now there are four or five BMW drivers in the first positions. And considering that BMW cars take always a better start thanks to the rear-wheel drive, this will have a major influence on the race's early stages."
Hans Hotfiel -- team manager Team Hotfiel Sport: "Thomas Klenke stopped twice on the track during qualifying, first because he had problems with the gear shifting and then because he did not want to cause any major engine problems. It was a shame, because we were happy with our results in the morning free practice. I am disappointed because we were aiming for a better position at the start, but in the end I think it was something we had to expect, because we built the car in such a hurry that we had not time enough to check everything and test. I hope we will do better tomorrow in the races."