Curitiba: BMW Motorsport qualifying notes

Priaulx quickest BMW driver in maiden WTCC qualifying in South America. Curitiba (Brazil), 01st July 2006. In qualifying for the ninth round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) at the 'Autodromo Internacional de Curitiba' Andy...

Priaulx quickest BMW driver in maiden WTCC qualifying in South America.

Curitiba (Brazil), 01st July 2006. In qualifying for the ninth round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) at the 'Autodromo Internacional de Curitiba' Andy Priaulx (GBR) of BMW Team UK claimed seventh position on the grid. Setting a time of 1:25.272 minutes, the championship leader was the fastest driver of the BMW national teams. Local hero Augusto Farfus (BRA) claimed pole position, posting a best time of 1:24.761 minutes.

"I'm really happy, but I think something was missing," said Priaulx, who is carrying 65 kilograms of handicap weight at the WTCC's debut in Brazil. "The position is excellent, especially with regards to the weight situation." Duncan Huisman (NLD) was also satisfied with the outcome of qualifying at the 3.695-kilometre track. At Curitiba, the 34-year-old is contesting his first two races for BMW Team Italy-Spain. He took 11th position on the grid. "My first WTCC qualifying this season was okay", Huisman commented. "We managed to improve compared to the free practice sessions, when we were struggling a bit. This result is good for the confidence."

His team-mate Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) was unlucky. On his first timed lap, the 39- year-old lost control of his BMW 320si WTCC and crashed into the tyre barriers in turn nine. Following this incident, he was forced to watch the action on the track from the garage. Zanardi had delivered a promising performance in the free practice sessions, gaining top-ten positions at all times.

The drivers of BMW Team Germany also failed to make it onto the front rows. Jorg Muller (GER) took 13th place, carrying 60 kilograms of handicap weight. His team- mate Dirk Muller (GER), who is having 70 kilograms onboard his car, finished 19th. Both drivers have to perform a massive catch up, if they want to leave Brazil with some more points to their tally. "The field is very close here in Curitiba again," said BMW Team Germany's Team Manager, Charly Lamm (GER). "It's a fight for fractions of a second. Unfortunately we were unable to gain these decisive hundredths of a second today. Consequently we find ourselves in midfield positions. A lot of work is before us if we want to gain some ground tomorrow."

Therefore, it's reigning World Champion Priaulx who for the moment is carrying BMW's hopes for a good result in Sunday's races. However, the 31-year-old is well- aware of the fact that he is facing a tough challenge. "We knew before that Brazil will be a tough event for us," he said. "That's why I'm not expecting massive points for tomorrow. But I'll do my best in the races, and let's see what will be the result."

Race one at Curitiba will start on Sunday at 12:05hrs local time (16:05hrs BST). The second race starts at 13:15hrs (18:15hrs BST).

-bmw

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Series WTCC
Drivers Andy Priaulx , Dirk Müller , Augusto Farfus , Duncan Huisman , Charly Lamm