World Champion Priaulx secures Monza pole for BMW. Monza (Italy), 01st April 2006. In the first qualifying session of the 2006 FIA World Touring Car Championship, BMW Team UK driver Andy Priaulx (GBR) succeeded in clinching pole position. At the...
World Champion Priaulx secures Monza pole for BMW.
Monza (Italy), 01st April 2006. In the first qualifying session of the 2006 FIA World Touring Car Championship, BMW Team UK driver Andy Priaulx (GBR) succeeded in clinching pole position. At the wheel of his new BMW 320si WTCC, the 31-year old set a fastest lap time of 2:00.254 minutes, thus beating second-placed SEAT driver Yvan Muller (FRA) by 0.106 seconds. Augusto Farfus jr (BRA) qualified third. "What a great start to the season," beamed Priaulx following the 30-minute session. "It's the new car's maiden race weekend - and we're able to battle at the front end of the grid right away. That's encouraging. Still, tomorrow's races will be tough as the field is extremely competitive."
The other BMW national team drivers also secured promising grid positions for the first round of the new season at the "Autodromo Nazionale di Monza". BMW Team Germany's Dirk Muller (GER) qualified fourth, therefore, the 30-year old will start the race from row two. BMW Team Italy-Spain driver Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) qualified fifth, directly behind his German brand-mate, and Jorg Muller (GER), who also races for BMW Team Germany, also made it into the top ten: He will start tenth on the grid. At the same time, Zanardi's team-mate, Marcel Costa (ESP), finished twelfth in the first WTCC qualifying session of his career.
Qualifying at the 5.770-kilometre circuit turned out to be turbulent. Under overcast skies and at temperatures reaching 16C, the drivers fought a close battle for the top grid positions, a glance at the time sheets proving the field's extreme competitiveness: The first 15 drivers were split by just a second. Priaulx set the decisive lap time for the second pole position of his WTCC career in the closing minutes of the session.
The reigning World Touring Car Champion experienced some problems in the morning's second free practice session. Following a short circuit, the battery on his car caught fire and brought an early end to Priaulx' preparations for the remainder of the weekend. But the RBM team mechanics completed the necessary repair works in record time, thus offering their driver the chance of using the full potential of the BMW 320si in the qualifying session. "A big compliment to my crew," said Priaulx. "They quickly identified and solved the problem. Therefore, I was able to truly push in the qualifying session. But I have to admit that I also benefited from a good slipstream from some of the cars driving in front of me. That's a massive advantage at this circuit."
Now, the BMW national teams focus on preparing for the two rounds held on Sunday. The first round of the season will start at 15:05hrs, while the 35 cars will start round two at 16:15hrs. The top eight from round one will start the second race in reverse order.