BMW Team RBM locked out the front row of the grid for tomorrow’s Race 1 at Okayama. Andy Priaulx claimed his first pole position since Macau 2006 with the quickest lap of the weekend so far, a 1:36.972 that is also a new track record for S2000 cars. His team-mate Augusto Farfus (1:37.408) will start alongside him ahead of Chevrolet’s Rob Huff (1:37.441).
Norbert Michelisz (1:37.577) emerged as the best rookie in fifth position overall, while Franz Engstler (1:38.605) will start in tenth, best of the independents after also making it through into Q2.
Q1 – Michelisz initially posted the fastest time, but the BMWs quickly took the advantage with Farfus and Priaulx jumping on top of the timesheets. With seven minutes to go, French newcomer Michaël Rossi improved to seventh and secured his place in Q2.
The BMW 320si cars looked strong with Colin Turkington recording a great lap in the final minutes to go fastest of anyone at that point in all three sectors and jump ahead of the Farfus-Priaulx pair with a time of 1:37.264.
With no improvements as the flag came out, the top ten going forward into Q2 remained Turkington, Farfus, Priaulx, Huff, Michelisz, Tarquini, Muller, Engstler, Menu and Rossi who managed to reach Q2 on his first appearance in the championship.
Q2 – With the help of a slipstream from his teammate, Andy Priaulx secured his first pole position of the season on his only flying lap in Q2. A best time of 1:36.972 gave him pole from Farfus by 0.436s and the team decided not to risk an extra flying lap on the tyres to hopefully give the pair an advantage in the race tomorrow.
Huff posted the third quickest time (1:37.441) from Turkington (1:37.495), and Michelisz (1:37.577), who was the quickest SEAT driver of the day as well as being the top rookie in fifth.
Reigning champion Gabriele Tarquini’s (1:37.727) best time was good enough for sixth ahead of Chevrolet’s Menu (1:37.844) and Muller (1:37.913). Rossi (1:38.387) was the only driver to improve on his second flying lap to move up to ninth ahead of Engstler.
SEQUENTIAL GEARBOX FOR PRIAULX AND FARFUS
Four BMW cars – Andy Priaulx’s, Augusto Farfus‘, Franz Engstler’s and Andrei Romanov’s – are equipped with an Xtrac 6-speed sequential gearbox. Although Romanov already used it in the previous three events, this is the first time ever since the Super 2000 regulations were adopted back in 2002 that BMW factory cars run with a sequential gearbox instead of the usual 5-speed H-pattern.
This change, along with the compensation weight system, enabled them to benefit from a significant weight reduction: 1168 kg compared to the 1198 kilos fixed by the sporting regulations and the application of the compensation weight.
Four other BMW cars – Kristian Poulsen’s, Colin Turkington’s, Yoshihiro Ito’s and Henry Ho’s – were accepted as "old" models and given a weight of 1123 kilos.
CHEVROLET INTEND TO APPEAL
The Chevrolet team announced their intention to appeal against the decisions 1 and 2 taken by the Panel of the Stewards that authorize the two BMW Team RBM cars to run with the 6-speed sequential gearbox.