QUALIFYING NOTES AND QUOTES Roberto COLCIAGO, Alfa Romeo Autodelta, 1st: "It was quite a good day for me today. Since the first session this morning, the car was very good and quick. I wouldn't say it was easy for me, because it's never easy,...
QUALIFYING NOTES AND QUOTES
Roberto COLCIAGO, Alfa Romeo Autodelta, 1st: "It was quite a good day for me today. Since the first session this morning, the car was very good and quick. I wouldn't say it was easy for me, because it's never easy, but for sure there was less work to get to the top. Compared to last year, the ETCC cars have developed a lot. Alfa Romeo did a lot of testing and worked a lot on the suspension. Today we had the first real clue of how much these cars have been improved, because ETCC did not race in Barcelona last year and the Magny-Cours track has been modified. But besides the massive improvement in lap time, I should say that the 2003 Alfa Romeo 156 Gta is now much easier to drive than it was last year. This is a good track for Alfa and I really hope the whole team, and myself in particular, may benefit from this tomorrow. I know that if I don't make mistakes at the start, I will have a good chance of winning."
Gabriele TARQUINI, Alfa Romeo Autodelta, 2nd: "I'm quite happy to be second on the grid, although I have to say I was very surprised by Colciago's time. Roberto did an excellent job; he definitely deserved the pole position today. I made three good qualifying attempts without managing to get a good aspiration, which is very important here. That is the reason I wasn't faster. In the end, I can't complain. A front row position is always good and tomorrow it will be another day. I haven't been here since 1993, when the Schumacher chicane was not there. I had seen it at the TV, but from the cockpit it looks completely different. I don't like it; it's too narrow and it's too easy to make a mistake there, damaging your car. And we have also lost the feeling of negotiating the Curvone flat out, which was quite a feeling."
Dirk MÜLLER, BMW Team Deutschland, 3rd: "Honestly I did not expect to be among the top three drivers after the qualifying. I thought three red cars would fill the first three spots of the grid. But I have to say that we, BMW Motorsport and the Schnitzer team, have worked hard to improve the car step-by-step, and now the gap we had from the Alfa Romeo on the straight has been reduced. The evidence is that today my qualifying time was very close to Tarquini's, and I think I could have been even a bit faster. On the paper we will have to struggle in the races, because the Alfa is using the tyres better than us on this track. But Pergusa is not only an engine circuit, as there are also a lot of kerbs that can make the difference. This is why I feel confident for tomorrow."
Fabio FRANCIA, Clever Cats R&M Team, 4th: "It was a great day for me. Everything turned out the right way. I might have done even better, if not for a couple of slight mistakes I did on my best lap. But I'm too happy to have any regrets. A fourth place is a great result for me and the team. I am not only pleased with the position itself, but with the fact that I qualified less than two tenths behind Tarquini who is second. I think the fact that my car is 30 kg lighter than the Autodelta's, because it has the H-pattern gearbox, might have helped me, but I'd like to have 30 kg more and the 6-speed sequential gearbox. Now I have to think of a strategy for the races. The first thing to do is to have a good start; I hope not to lose any places after the first corner. Then we'll see; my priority is to win the Independents race, but I would also like to be classified as high as possible in the overall classification."
Fabrizio GIOVANARDI, BMW Team Italy-Spain, 5th: "There was no place for praise or blame in my qualifying performance today. I know the Alfa cars very well and I expected them to be ahead of me today. But to be honest I also expected them to be faster than they were. I think the potential of the Italian cars here should be enough to create a 1.5-second gap, just like last year. But if we look at today's times, BMW has improved more than them compared to 2002, which is quite promising for us. I made a mistake on my first qualifying attempt on new tyres; I came out too wide from the Schumacher chicane, driving beyond the kerbs. This spoiled the balance of my car and when I went out on my second set of new tyres I immediately understood that I no longer had a car which was good enough to improve my lap times. Obviously my time today is a long way from Colciago's, but the others are close, which makes me confident for the race."
Frank DIEFENBACHER, SEAT Sport, 14th: "I was very surprised by my seventh time in the qualifying session, because this is a very fast track and is also very hard on the cars because of the high kerbs. But I found a set-up which makes me feel very comfortable at the wheel and helped me to push. The car was very stable while jumping over the kerbs. It's clear we are making progress; the car's performances are improving and the lap times too. When I managed to set my fastest lap, which was the seventh fastest in the session, I decided to stop, because I though it was impossible for me to improve it again. And this finally proved to be a mistake, because then I had my best lap disallowed due to cutting a chicane, and I dropped down to 14th. It was a cold shower, but I know the car should be good in the race and I will try my best to recover."