Prior to today's qualifying the BMW teams were under no illusion as to how quick the Alfa Romeos would be round the Pergusa circuit. After the session there were some happy faces as the time difference was much smaller than expected. Dirk Muller...
Prior to today's qualifying the BMW teams were under no illusion as to how quick the Alfa Romeos would be round the Pergusa circuit.
After the session there were some happy faces as the time difference was much smaller than expected. Dirk Muller was the quickest BMW driver for BMW Team Deutschland and will start from third on the grid. This is the same position as last year, but with nearly half the time difference between him and the Alfas. The BMW driver with the most problems was Antonio Garcia with his BMW Team Italy-Spain 320i suffering from an exploded shock absorber in the first free practice, and a broken driveshaft just as he was starting what was hopefully going to be his best lap in qualifying. Andy Priaulx was also in the wars after hitting a tyre wall in the morning, but he soon got to grips with yet another new circuit and his BMW Team GB boss was happy with his time.
Positions for the BMW drivers are: 3rd Dirk Muller, 5th Fabrizio Giovanardi, 6th Andy Priaulx, 9th Joerg Muller, 15th Antonio Garcia.
BMW Team Deutschland - Schnitzer Motorsport - Charly Lamm: "We are quite happy with qualifying. Dirk did a very good lap and was able to split up the Alfas who have four cars that are performing very strongly. Even at first glance it looks as though Joerg is a little bit behind. However, we have to consider the fact he is running here with 40 kilos of weight and so I believe his qualifying was all right. Now we have to rely on good starts tomorrow and two fighting drivers."
Dirk Muller (GER) (1m 46.915s): "I am surprised to be in the top three as I felt after free practice that the top four cars would be red. I was thinking about being fourth or fifth at best. The Schnitzer team, as always, did a very good job, and comparing last year's and this year's lap times it is a big step forward. I am really happy and if I had not been baulked in the last lap I could perhaps have been a tenth quicker."
Joerg Muller (GER) (1m 47.652s) (carrying 40 kilos ballast): "I am quite happy with my situation as this is a very difficult circuit to drive quickly on with 40 kilos of ballast. The heavy car is not as direct as a lighter one in the chicanes. As I only used one set of tyres I am in a good position with two sets left for the races. This shows how good the rules are, as you can't win any more when carrying an extra 40 kilos!"
BMW Team Great Britain - RBM - Bart Mampaey: "We had some work to do after the first free practice because we were bitten by the chicanes. We improved the set up of the car in the second free practice, making some positive changes. This made Andy the second quickest BMW in the session and gave him more confidence for qualifying. We accepted that Alfa were likely to be ahead of us this weekend, but I am quite pleased with the lap time we did, and we are not far away from the other BMWs. We shall have to see how tomorrow goes and hope we can finish both races."
Andy Priaulx (GBR) (1m 47.203s): "I am happy for my first time here to be within a tenth of Giovanardi, who won here ten years in a row. I didn't think we had the pace to be the quickest BMW but I am pleased with the lap time I did. I am in the bull park, which is what is important, so tomorrow I am starting from a fairly good grid position and letís just see what unfolds in front of us."
BMW Team Italy-Spain - Ravaglia Motorsport - Roberto Ravaglia: "It was not a good day for Antonio as he only used one set of tyres in qualifying and then had a problem with the driveshaft and stopped on the circuit. I am quite happy with Fabrizio's time and now we are trying to give him a little bit better car for the race.:
Fabrizio Giovanardi (ITA) (1m 47.100s): "The time is not so bad, but not so good. I am confident because Alfa Romeo may have some problems for the race as they should have been more than a few tenths faster than us. For the race I think the BMW could be a surprise. I made a mistake with the first set of tyres. Then with the second set I was not able to push so just gained three tenths, which was not enough."
Antonio Garcia (ESP) (1m 49.203s): "This morning in the first session after two laps one of my rear shock absorbers broke. In the second session I did 15 laps, which was more than anyone else, but I still needed more time to get to know the circuit. In qualifying I used the first set of tyres to learn the track and not think about the time. For the second set I wanted to go as fast as possible but then just 200 yards after the pit exit the driveshaft broke."