A Spanish driver and the Spanish cars dominated today’s qualifying session at Valencia. Pepe Oriola claimed his first pole position for Craft-Bamboo Lukoil, while the SEAT León cars filled the first six spots of the grid with Andrea Belicchi, Stefano Comini, Michel Nykjær, Sergey Afanasyev, and Jordi Gené who qualified from second to sixth. Franz Engstler’s Audi TT was the best of the rest, in seventh position, followed by the Opel Astra of Oscar Nogués that made impressive progress today, significantly reducing the gap from the leading pace. Former championship leader Gianni Morbidelli, whose Honda Civic car is laden by BoP and success ballast, claimed his qualifying run was also affected by a loss of power and had to settle with ten position that will give him pole position on the top-ten reverse grid for the second race. Tomorrow’s races will start at 12.35 and 14.05 local time, on the distance of 15 laps.
Qualifying 1: Nogués qualifies his Opel Astra for Q2 With a last gasp improvement Sergey Afanasyev set the fastest lap in Q1 (1:42.238), demoting Kevin Gleason to second (1:42.448) by only 10 thousandths of a second. It was a very close session, with six lead changes and fourteen drivers covered by seven tenths. The biggest surprise was created by Oscar Nogués who put in a great performance to place his Campos Racing Opel Astra in 12th position (1:43.110), depriving Mikhail Grachev of a trip to Q2 by only 25 thousandths. Nogués’ team mate Jordi Oriola saw his chances vanishing when his Opel Astra suffered from a puncture. The following drivers advanced to Q2: Afanasyev, Gleason, Comini, Gené, P. Oriola, Belicchi, Engstler, Morbidelli, Nykjær, Cebrián, Schouten and Nogués.
Qualifying 2: Oriola and Belicchi fill the front row Two timed laps were enough to fix the front positions for the first race’s grid. Pepe Oriola clocked the time of 1:42.068 on his first try and immediately improved to 1:42.045 that earned him pole position. Andrea Belicchi qualified second, less than one tenth behind (1:42.143), ahead of Stefano Comini (1:42.183) and Michel Nykjær (1:42.300). Gianni Morbidelli ranked tenth (1:42.971) and won pole position for Race 2, while his team-mate Kevin Gleason could not post a significant time because of a fuel pick-up issue.
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