Estoril: Series qualifying report

LARINI BACK ON POLE AFTER FIVE YEARS In the heat of the Saturday afternoon sunshine the Chevrolet and SEAT cars dominated qualifying. It was closely fought between the two manufacturers with the BMW cars trailing close behind. Chevrolet's...

LARINI BACK ON POLE AFTER FIVE YEARS

In the heat of the Saturday afternoon sunshine the Chevrolet and SEAT cars dominated qualifying.

It was closely fought between the two manufacturers with the BMW cars trailing close behind. Chevrolet's Nicola Larini, whose last pole position was at this circuit in the 2003 European Touring Car Championship, took the top spot of the grid by 0.150 seconds. The Italian driver dominated the last fifteen minutes of qualifying and even improved his time, therefore completing two laps that would have been good enough for pole, the best being 1:47.325.

SEAT Sport's Rickard Rydell claimed second position, closely followed by the second Chevrolet of Alain Menu in third. Jordi Gene took fourth position with his SEAT and Robert Huff, who was fastest in practice, took fifth position. The three Chevrolets drivers fought for pole position throughout the session, each holding it for a time. This was the team's first pole of the season.

The BMW drivers, who dominated Friday's wet test, struggled a bit more on the dry track with Andy Priaulx following his fellow countryman Huff into sixth position. Augusto Farfus came into seventh position while Championship leader Gabriele Tarquini rounded off the top eight struggling with the heaviest ballast of the field.

However, gaps between the drivers were very small, with the top fourteen covered by only one second.

Sergio Hernandez took pole position for the Independents' class ahead of Stefano D'Aste and Franz Engstler.

Newcomer Tom Boardman had a moment on his first laps out of the pits at the beginning of the session when he spun the car. However, the British driver was not the only one to make a mistake as later Alessandro Zanardi came off the track at the first corner.

THOMPSON PLAGUED BY ENGINE PROBLEMS

James Thompson's Honda Accord was plagued by engine failures today. The Briton had to stop in both practice sessions this morning; he only managed to complete four slow laps in the first one and three laps in the second one with a new engine. His fastest time of 1:50.552 was nearly two and half seconds off the pace.

Thompson was sidelined for the qualifying session as the N.technology team worked to rebuild a new engine to enable him to take part in tomorrow's races.

-credit: fia.wtcc

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Series WTCC
Drivers Andy Priaulx , James Thompson , Augusto Farfus , Sergio Hernandez , Tom Boardman , Franz Engstler , Rickard Rydell , Gabriele Tarquini , Jordi Gene , Stefano D'Aste , Nicola Larini , Alain Menu