Qualifying: Weather seals pole for Bourdais

Sebastien Bourdais was untoucahable during qualifying for the Austrian round of the International Formula 3000 Championship, partly due to the young Frenchman's pace around the A1-Ring, but also because of the weather

Qualifying: Weather seals pole for Bourdais

Bourdais fully deserved his second F3000 pole position after spending almost the entire first session atop the time sheets, but must have been quietly pleased when rain began to fall before the second session, ensuring his time of 1m23.240s would remain unthreatened.

"It's nice to be back on pole, it's been nearly a year and a lot has changed since then," said Bourdais who swapped teams at the last minute from Prost to DAMS for this year. "The track would have been faster in the second session, but with the shower I was two seconds off. But you never know when it begins to dry like that, it could be quicker at the end.

"It was good to test the conditions because it could be the same for the race. It doesn't change anything for me if it is wet or dry, but I do know my car is good in the wet."

Austrian Patrick Freisacher took second place for the Red Bull Junior Team while a rejuvintated Bas Leinders, who finished second in Spain two weeks ago, managed to take third.

Tomorrow's race will mark Freisacher's first major event on home soil and despite harrying Bourdais throughout the first session, the 20-year-old did not manage to topple the Frenchman. And once the rain had fallen between sessions, there was no chance.

"I went into the gravel once [in the second session] because it was so slippery," said Freisacher, "but I was trying to find the wet line in case it rains tomorrow [Saturday]. Of course it's great to race at home because I have all my friends and family here and all the Austrian journalists too."

With drivers taking up to seven or eight laps to get enough heat into their tyres due to the smoothness of the A1-Ring circuit, putting in a quick time was all about finding a clear lap. Leinders was pleased with his third place, but felt sure he could have gone quicker had his run not been scuppered by traffic.

"I've a good car," said Leinders, "so from the start I could attack. I was quickest, but then I came up to a small group and I had to back off. It took three laps to get quick again and that's when they got ahead."

Championship leader Justin Wilson finished fourth just ahead of his Nordic team mate Tomas Enge in fifth. Both will be keen to beat the other in Saturday's race after Enge won last time out in Barcelona closing to within just one point of Wilson's 15-point total in the standings.

Super Nova ace Mark Webber came home sixth while reigning British Formula 3 Champion Antonio Pizzonia had to settle for seventh.

Arden Team Russia driver Darren Manning's session was brought to an early close when the Brit beached his Lola in the gravel and although he managed to keep his engine going, the car was stuck and his session was over. Luckily the time he had already set was good enough for 11th on the grid.

Dino Morelli makes a return to the F3000 series this weekend in place of Ananda Mikola at the Astromega team. The Irishman has not had a full-time drive in the series since he broke his legs at the Nurburgring in 1997 and qualified 21st for tomorrow's race.

For full qualifying times, click here.

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