Porteiro claims maiden pole position for BMW Team Italy-Spain in Brno. Brno (Czech Republic), 16th June 2007. The BMW national teams secured promising grid positions in qualifying for Sunday's ninth round of the FIA World Touring Car...
Porteiro claims maiden pole position for BMW Team Italy-Spain in Brno.
Brno (Czech Republic), 16th June 2007. The BMW national teams secured promising grid positions in qualifying for Sunday's ninth round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC). At the "Automotodrom Brno", all five drivers managed to take a spot in the first five rows. Fastest man of the session was Félix Porteiro (ESP) of BMW Team Italy-Spain. He set a best time of 2:11.584 minutes, thus staying 0.365 seconds ahead of BMW Team UK's Andy Priaulx (GBR). Despite carrying the maximum handicap weight of 60 kilograms, the reigning world champion posted the second-fastest lap time. Porteiro's team-mate, Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) put the icing on the cake for BMW Team Italy-Spain by taking third place on the grid. This is the best qualifying result for Team Principal Roberto Ravaglia's (ITA) squad since joining WTCC.
BMW Team Germany driver, Jörg Müller (GER), who is running with 45 extra kilos in Brno, will start the first of two sprint races from seventh position. The 37-year-old had set the third-fastest time in the dying seconds of the session, however, this time was disallowed as Müller had improved under yellow flags. His team-mate Augusto Farfus lost the time of his third flying lap for the same reason and will start from ninth place tomorrow.
For Porteiro, this pole position represents the biggest success in his still young career in touring car racing. "Obviously I'm really happy with this result," said the 23- year-old, who had joined BMW Team Italy-Spain from the GP2 series at the beginning of the year. "I have only five kilos on board my car here. Therefore, I was convinced that a top-five finish was in reach. However, I didn't expect to be at the very top of the results sheet. I'm a rookie and still learn a lot each weekend. This result shows me that I'm going in the right way."
Priaulx's performance was no less impressive. The maximum ballast did not hamper him in once more performing in great style. "I'm a bit surprised, I have to say", commented the two-time world champion. "My goal was to finish in the top eight. Now I'm starting on the front row. The track had only a little grip today, which made it difficult to find the perfect set-up. That's why I'm even happier about this result."
The final line-up for Sunday's grid was determined only in the final seconds of the 30-minute session. All BMW national team drivers had already completed two stints on the 5.403-kilometre track before going out for another assault. Porteiro and Priaulx were the only drivers beating the 2:12-minute mark. Zanardi celebrated his best qualifying performance since Istanbul 2006, where he had claimed second place on the grid. From there, he won the race.
Round nine of the FIA World Touring Car Championship will start at 12:05hrs on Sunday and will be held over a distance of ten laps. The second race begins at 15:35hrs. Eurosport International provides live coverage.