Valencia: Qualifying notes

PRACTICE 1 BEST LAP FOR JÖRG MÜLLER Jörg Müller set the pace in the first free practice session, as he clocked a fastest lap of 1:43.274. The time was set on his third lap and none of the drivers could better it. Behind Jörg's BMW was ...

PRACTICE 1 BEST LAP FOR JÖRG MÜLLER

Jörg Müller set the pace in the first free practice session, as he clocked a fastest lap of 1:43.274. The time was set on his third lap and none of the drivers could better it. Behind Jörg's BMW was Gabriele Tarquini in his Alfa Romeo, 0.148 of a second slower, then Jordi Gené and Peter Terting in their SEAT León cars. Augusto Farfus completed the top 5 drivers.

The fastest 13 times were all within 0.7 seconds of each other with Alain Menu occupying 13th spot which made him the fastest of the Chevrolet drivers. Thomas Klenke looked like he was going to finish among the top ten times until James Thompson posted a 1:43.874, demoting the Ford man to 11th by just 0.066 of a second. Young Spaniard Marc Carol achieved an encouraging 14th quickest time in his first outing in the FIA WTCC for SEAT Sport, while Polo Villaamil is at the bottom of the times as he adjusts to touring cars. His GR Asia team-mate Tom Coronel however, was by far the quickest Independent competitor and 9th overall.

PRACTICE 2 ALFA, FORD AND SEAT ON TOP

The fastest time in the second practice was posted by Fabrizio Giovanardi who completed a lap in 1:45.162 in his Alfa Romeo 156. However, it was Michael Funke's name at the top of the timesheet for the first half of the session. The German set a time of 1:44.690 in his Ford Focus on the third lap before stopping seconds later and being towed away. Despite this early departure due to an engine failure; Funke's time was good enough to remain 2nd quickest.

SEAT continued to do well as Jordi Gené and Rickard Rydell were 3rd and 4th fastest respectively; their times just 0.007 apart, while the third León driven by Peter Terting was 6th. The SEAT Sport men were split by Chevrolet's Nicola Larini who had the 5th best time, 0.507 off the best pace. The best BMW car was 10th overall, driven by Jörg Müller.

In the Independents category, Tom Coronel dominated again clocking, the 9th fastest time overall.

QUALIFYING POLE FOR GENÉ IN THE NEW LEÓN

In a riveting qualifying session SEAT came out on top and Jordi Gené will start on pole tomorrow, joined by his team-mate Peter Terting on the front row. Gené was the only driver to set a time below 1 minute 43 seconds 1:42.778, meaning a Spanish driver in a Spanish car on pole in the WTCC Race of Spain, and also the first pole position for the new SEAT León on its only third appearance. Dirk Müller completed the top three who all set their best times in the final seconds.

SEAT Sport began their attack nine minutes into the session as Gené, Rydell and Terting jumped to 1st-2nd-3rd. The three then returned to the pits and waited to see if a challenge was mounted. It did indeed come, in the form of Farfus' Alfa Romeo as he split the SEAT trio by slotting into 3rd place with a lap of 1:43.361. Ten minutes later, Rydell and Terting were back on the track with the young German right on the tail of his team-mate to benefit from a slip-stream. The team tactics worked as Terting improved his time and returned to 3rd position.

However, the action was by no means over as Rob Huff of Chevrolet shot to 6th place and then the lap later he set a fantastic 1:43.295, promoting himself to 2nd. He couldn't hold on to that spot though as Gené and Terting worked together to reduce their times even further. They secured a SEAT 1-2 and Dirk Müller also stormed through on his final lap to set a 3rd fastest 1:43.277. This demoted Huff to 4th - still Chevrolet's best qualifying position so far. Rickard Rydell will be on row three with Farfus next to him in 6th. The Brazilian youngster emerged as the fastest of the Alfa Romeo men who were all fighting against understeer. Ford were unable to be as competitive as they were in the practice sessions as Klenke and Funke set the 18th and 20th quickest times.

The battle to be the fastest independent driver was also closely fought as at one point, Rosenblad, Coronel, De Micheli and Engström's times were within an incredibly tight 0.314 of a second. Eventually it was Coronel of GR Asia who prevailed and posted the 11th fastest time overall. However, due to an engine change after Istanbul, he will begin 21st after being penalised 10 grid positions. This means JAS Motorsport man, De Micheli in 16th will head the Independent field with Rosenblad in the spot right behind.

-fia-

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About this article
Series WTCC
Drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi , Dirk Müller , Tom Coronel , Jorg Muller , Peter Terting , Rob Huff , Rickard Rydell , Gabriele Tarquini , Jordi Gene , Nicola Larini , Alain Menu