BMW surprised by qualifying pace
|By Steven English||Sunday, March 22nd 2009, 02:04 GMT|
Augusto Farfus says he was surprised that BMW locked out the front row of the grid in the qualifying session for the first World Touring Car race at Puebla on Sunday.
Following SEAT's domination of the season-opening event at Curitiba two weeks ago, the BMW drivers arrived at the high altitude circuit in Mexico expecting the Leon turbo diesels to have an advantage once again.
But despite SEAT drivers leading the weekend's test and practice sessions, Farfus and Priaulx went quickest in the final qualifying session.
"After our start at Curitiba we didn't expect to come here and get something better," admitted Farfus. "We didn't expect pole, our target was just to be in the top 10, but somehow we achieved pole and put two BMWs on front row."
Farfus believes the improved grip level of the Puebla track over previous seasons has allowed the rear-wheel drive BMWs to compete with the front-wheel drive SEATs.
"Definitely the track helped us, the surface improved a lot - more than three seconds quicker than last year's pole shows how the track improved."
Priaulx agreed with Farfus on the increased grip helping BMW, and believes the result was important for all the BMW entries, to see that they are able to match and beat SEAT's level of performance.
"We needed this, everybody at BMW needed this," Priaulx said. "Brazil was a terrible weekend and last year was a very hard year.
"It seems the circuit's grip level suits our car. If we came here and it was slippery, we'd be nowhere – simple as that.
"We have to take this opportunity. We'll look to take more points here than we ever have before, which isn't many. But for BMW this was what we needed, we need the championship to be close between two manufacturers."