Priaulx makes it two pole positions in a row at thrilling Macau qualifying. Macau (China), 17th November 2006. Andy Priaulx (GBR) has made a big step towards defending his title in the FIA World Touring Car Championship. In an eventful...
Priaulx makes it two pole positions in a row at thrilling Macau qualifying.
Macau (China), 17th November 2006. Andy Priaulx (GBR) has made a big step towards defending his title in the FIA World Touring Car Championship. In an eventful qualifying session at Macau's "Guia Circuit" the BMW Team UK driver set a time of 2:33.318 minutes, thus being faster than any other driver at the narrow street circuit. The 32-year-old now is in the best possible position for the fight for the 2006 title, which a total of nine drivers still have the chance to claim. This has been the fourth pole of Priaulx's WTCC career and the third in this season.
However, neither BMW Team Germany's Dirk Muler (GER) nor his team-mate Jorg Muller (GER), the other two BMW title contenders, have to give up their hopes for winning the championship. Dirk Muller, who is currently ranked sixth in the drivers' classification, was 1.310 seconds slower than his band-mate, taking second position on the grid. Jorg Muller will start the first of two sprint races on Sunday from fifth place.
"I'm really happy about this result," beamed Priaulx. "The session was likely to be disrupted by red flags. Therefore, I aimed at setting a fast lap as early as possible. That worked fine, and I even managed to improve on my second flying lap. However I won't make the mistake to underestimate my competitors in the title fight. We will see what is going to happen on Sunday." Dirk Muller agreed with the defending champion, saying: "Everything is wide open, the chance is still there for many drivers. There can be many changes over the course of Sunday's races. I want to thank my team. Following a shunt in first free practice, the succeeded in fixing it in time. I felt comfortable and was able to attack."
Four-time "Guia Race" winner, Duncan Huisman (NLD), could also be satisfied with his performance. In the arguably most important qualifying of the season, he finished fourth. His BMW Team Italy-Spain team-mate, Alessandro Zanardi (ITA), had to make do with 16th grid position. At his return to Macau, Jan Magnussen (DEN) took tenth position for BMW Team UK.
Once more qualifying at the 6.117-kilometre track was a turbulent affair. The 30- minute session was red-flagged twice following accidents of Nicola Larini (ITA) and James Thompson (GBR). Just when many drivers went out again for a third flying lap, it started raining. The slippery track conditions made any improvements impossible during the last third of the session. At this point in time, many drivers had not even been able to complete a single free lap.
The first race will start on Sunday at 11:05hrs local time (3:05hrs GMT). The lights go off for race two at 12:15hrs (4:15hrs GMT). EUROSPORT is broadcasting live.