Brands Hatch: Practice and qualifying notes

Weather: windy and changeable, with heavy showers; the track remained slippery, with dry lines and puddles of water. PRACTICE 1 ­ TAVANO CHASES YVAN MULLER The name at the top of the timesheet changed as many times as the weather for the...

Weather: windy and changeable, with heavy showers; the track remained slippery, with dry lines and puddles of water.

PRACTICE 1 ­ TAVANO CHASES YVAN MULLER

The name at the top of the timesheet changed as many times as the weather for the first practice session of the day. Huff, Rydell, Thompson and Priaulx all had a spell as fastest but Yvan Muller of SEAT posted a 1:35.013 which was the quickest overall. Salvatore Tavano of N.technology posted the second best time, 0.404 seconds behind Muller. Spaniard Jordi Gené was the third quickest with a lap of 1:35.489 at the wheel of his SEAT León.

Andy Priaulx, who was fourth fastest overall, set the best BMW time of 1:35.602 followed by fellow Briton James Thompson and the young Peter Terting. Alain Menu, completed the best lap of the Chevrolet crew, 7th overall. Piers-Yves Corthals of JAS Motorsport led his independent competitors at the wheel of a Honda Accord Euro R. The Belgian driver's time of 1:36.524 was 15th overall and 0.290 seconds better than fellow independent driver Tom Coronel who was 16th overall.

The session begun on a damp track, which caused a few drivers to spin. Gianni Morbidelli was the man to suffer the most as on his first flying lap he spun his Alfa Romeo 156 at Sheene Curve, damaging his car. Red flags were issued as half of his car was stranded on the track. Minutes after the session resumed, the weather took a turn for the worse and the final ten minutes of the session were run during heavy rain.

PRACTICE 2 ­ MENU BEHIND FOUR SEATS

SEAT showed strength in the second practice session with the top four lap times being set by a León. James Thompson was the quickest of them all with a time of 1:34.668 which was set half way into the session. Behind him was Yvan Muller who's best lap was 0.021 seconds off Thompson's. The top three was completed by Rickard Rydell with Peter Terting right behind. At the wheel of his Chevrolet Lacetti, Alain Menu drove a 1:35.080 lap, placing him ahead of his team-mates and 5th overall. The 6th best time was set by BMW Team Germany man Dirk Müller, who shot up from towards the bottom of the table by setting a 1:35.134 with 13 minutes remaining. Jordi Gené was 7th fastest overall followed by a quartet of BMW 320si cars driven by Costa, Priaulx, Zanardi and Jörg Müller respectively. Augusto Farfus had a best lap of 1:35.446 in his Alfa Romeo to be classified 12th overall. Tom Coronel took command of the independent field for the session and his time of 1:35.496 placed him 5th overall at one stage before the rest of the field improved moving him down the time sheet to 14th.

In a scenario that resembled a re-play of this morning's incident, an Alfa 156 spun at Sheene Curve and crashed into the tyre wall. This time however, it was Tavano at the wheel. Moments later, Emmet O'Brien of Wiechers Sport fell fowl of the same slippery area of the track and spun but avoided making contact with the barrier. The red flag was issued and with just 3 minutes left on the clock the session was not resumed.

QUALIFYING ­ FIRST POLE FOR RYDELL

Never before has the FIA WTCC seen such a breathtaking qualifying session. On a track that was driying as the session progressed, the name at the top of the timesheet changed a total of 18 times before Rickard Rydell secured pole for SEAT in the closing stages. The first of the season for him, the second consecutive for SEAT after Tarquini's in Magny-Cours.

With a time of 1:34.493 the Swede will start ahead of the field tomorrow joined by team-mate Peter Terting on the front row. Chevrolet achieved its best qualifying result so far after Rob Huff posted a spectacular 1:34.675 which placed him 3rd on the grid at his home race. On the last lap however he took a hard crash at Westfield Bend after going wide. Alain Menu will line up 5th; the two Chevrolet men being separated by Yvan Muller in his SEAT León.

James Thompson looked strong throughout the entire session until, with 6 minutes remaining, he had to pit with a problem. Meanwhile, the field had changed to slicks to capitalise on the drying track. The times were falling dramatically and leaving Thompson to fall down to 20th. He managed to rejoin the session with moments to spare and salvaged a time of 1:35.102 which was good enough for 6th on the grid.

Andy Priaulx was the fastest of the BMW drivers in 10th place with a time of 1:35.668. Dirk Müller will begin Race 1 behind him after posting the 11th best time. The Alfa Romeo team's best lap was completed by Gianni Morbidelli, it was 12th fastest of the entire field.

Two independent drivers made it into the top ten. Tom Coronel of GR Asia and Pierre-Yves Corthals of JAS Motorsport will line up among the works drivers in 7th and 9th positions respectively. Jordi Gené had a technical problem which made it unable for him to post a competitive time. The SEAT team are investigating whether the engine was the cause of the Spaniard's difficulties.

The seven fastest drivers in the session were all covered by only 0.6 seconds.

-wtcc

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About this article
Series WTCC
Drivers Andy Priaulx , Dirk Müller , Tom Coronel , Jorg Muller , Yvan Muller , James Thompson , Augusto Farfus , Peter Terting , Rob Huff , Rickard Rydell , Gianni Morbidelli , Jordi Gene , Salvatore Tavano , Emmet O'Brien , Pierre-Yves Corthals , Alain Menu