Priaulx fastest BMW driver in a turbulent WTCC qualifying in Porto. Porto (Portugal), 07th July 2007. Andy Priaulx (GBR) of BMW Team UK will start Sunday's 11th round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship in Porto from seventh position. In...
Priaulx fastest BMW driver in a turbulent WTCC qualifying in Porto.
Porto (Portugal), 07th July 2007. Andy Priaulx (GBR) of BMW Team UK will start Sunday's 11th round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship in Porto from seventh position. In qualifying at the "Circuito da Boavista", the defending champion emerged as best-placed BMW national team driver, clocking a personal best time of 2:08.574 minutes. Priaulx shares fourth row on the grid with BMW Team Italy- Spain's Alessandro Zanardi (ITA). On his fastest lap, Zanardi was just 24 thousands of a second slower than Priaulx, thus taking eighth place. Alain Menu (SUI/Chevrolet) secured pole position at the 4.720-kilometre street circuit.
Jorg Muller (GER), who is carrying the maximum handicap weight of 60 kilograms in Porto, recorded the ninth-fastest time in qualifying. Muller's BMW Team Germany team-mate Augusto Farfus finished 12th. The 23-year-old also has 60 kilograms on board his BMW 320si WTCC this weekend. Zanardi's team-mate, Felix Porteiro (ESP), will start the first sprint race from 16th position.
"Obviously I want to be on top in every session," said Priaulx following the eventful qualifying. "But given the 55 kilos of handicap weight that I'm carrying this weekend, I'm happy with the result. The final chicane caused several red flags today. That's far from ideal, but I don't think the organisers can change it until tomorrow's races." Zanardi was able to find some positive aspects regarding the interruptions. He said: "At least they didn't hamper me too much. I had already completed my flying laps each time the red flags came out so we had a bit more time to improve the set-up of my car."
Accidents involving Michel Jourdain (MEX/SEAT), James Thompson (GBR/Alfa Romeo) and Tiago Monteiro (PRT/SEAT) in the tight chicane before start/finish were the reason that the session, which already had been lengthened to 45 minutes, was stopped three times. The BMW drivers also were involved in incidents. On his way to a final improvement in the time sheets, Muller clipped the barrier in turn 2 in the dying minutes of the session and had to give up. The consequent yellow-flag in the first sector meant that the others BMW drivers had no more chance to improve either.
Porteiro had an unexpected fright after the chequered flag had been waved. The 23- year-old was on his in-lap and about to go into the pits, when he was hit by Roberto Colciago (ITA/SEAT) and pushed into the wall. This accident saw his BMW 320si WTCC heavily damaged but Porteiro's start for Sunday's races is not in danger.
Round 11 of the World Touring Car Championship will start tomorrow at 10:05hrs (BST). Eurosport 2 is broadcasting the race live. The red lights are turned off for the second sprint race, which will be shown on Eurosport International, at 16:35 (BST).