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Tarquini grabs pole at Oschersleben

Gabriele TarquiniGabriele Tarquini boosted his title prospects in the World Touring Car Championship by taking pole position for tomorrow's first race at Oschersleben, while his main rivals suffered a torrid session.

A downpour less than five minutes into Q1 meant that the 10 places in the all-important Q2 session were effectively decided in the first two flying laps. Tarquini set the best time on his second flying lap and eased through, along with works SEAT team-mate Rickard Rydell.

The factory BMWs of Augusto Farfus, Jorg Muller and Alex Zanardi made it through, along with the Chevrolets of Rob Huff and Nicola Larini, the Lada of Jaap van Lagen and the independent class cars of Tom Coronel and Marin Colak.

Notable casualties included Andy Priaulx (15th), Yvan Muller (17th), Alain Menu (19th), Jordi Gene (22nd) and Tiago Monteiro (26th). Muller and Gene chose to pit after just one flying lap, while the others failed to set a quick enough time on their first two flying laps before the circuit was too wet for any improvements.

The whole field was soon in for wet tyres, but the rain meant that the times didn't get within 10 seconds of those set at the beginning.

The track was drying by Q2 and although Farfus and Muller set the pace initially for BMW, Tarquini gambled on slick tyres and went six seconds quicker at the end to take pole.

"It was a very tough session especially the second one," he said. "In the first I made the right decision to stay on the track as long as possible. In the second I was not 100 per cent sure that the slick tyre was the best option, but on my second lap I decided to stick with them until the chequered flag."

Colak will join Tarquini on the front row of the grid in his petrol-powered SEAT Leon, and Tarquini will have the back-up of team-mate Rydell, who will start third.

Jaap van Lagen put Lada fourth on the grid for his first race in the new Priora, while Larini and Huff will share the third row for Chevrolet, despite Huff breaking down mid-way through Q2.

Coronel was the quickest of those who chose to stay on wets in seventh, while Muller, Farfus and Zanardi followed on wets for BMW.

Tarquini lies just five points behind Yvan Muller, and one ahead of Farfus, in the standings and could take the lead tomorrow with his rivals starting 17th and ninth respectively.

Pos Driver                Team         Q1          Q2
 1. Gabriele Tarquini     SEAT         1m41.478s   1m39.866s
 2. Marin Colak           SEAT         1m41.490s   1m41.692s
 3. Rickard Rydell        SEAT         1m41.626s   1m42.192s
 4. Jaap van Lagen        Lada         1m41.629s   1m42.307s
 5. Nicola Larini         Chevrolet    1m41.804s   1m43.626s
 6. Robert Huff           Chevrolet    1m41.891s   1m45.526s
 7. Tom Coronel           SEAT         1m42.073s   1m46.104s
 8. Jorg Muller           BMW          1m42.294s   1m46.249s
 9. Augusto Farfus        BMW          1m42.321s   1m46.481s
10. Alex Zanardi          BMW          1m42.916s   1m47.667s
11. Sergio Hernandez      BMW          1m43.034s
12. Stefano D'Aste        BMW          1m43.108s
13. Felix Porteiro        BMW          1m43.140s
14. Franz Engstler        BMW          1m43.183s
15. Andy Priaulx          BMW          1m43.533s
16. Tom Boardman          SEAT         1m43.987s
17. Yvan Muller           SEAT         1m44.198s
18. Michel Nykjaer        Chevrolet    1m44.204s
19. Alain Menu            Chevrolet    1m44.259s
20. Jason Watt            SEAT         1m44.273s
21. Jean-Marie Clairet    SEAT         1m44.407s
22. Jordi Gene            SEAT         1m44.705s
23. Kristian Poulsen      BMW          1m44.759s
24. Philip Geipel         BMW          1m45.476s
25. Viktor Shapovalov     Lada         1m45.521s
26. Tiago Monteiro        SEAT         1m46.127s
27. Kirill Ladygin        Lada         1m48.959s
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