Trio lead in Chamonix

Opel's Yvan Muller and Dany Snobeck, the Citroen semi-factory team of Marcel Tarres and Marc Duez, and, Nissan's Jean-Pierre Malcher and Emmanuel Collard were leading the field after Saturday's qualifying of the Ice Race Series International at Chamonix, France.

Trio lead in Chamonix

"At Chamonix, you've got to start off slowly and steadily, and gradually increase the pressure over the weekend," said Muller.

"It's a long weekend, and it's getting to the end that matters."

The main purpose of the qualifying heats at Chamonix is to reduce the initial grid of 48 cars to a more manageable 16, who will then take part in Sunday's races.

Using the practice times, the cars were divided into three more or less equal groups of 16 cars.

Each group had three 25-minuteraces, with an obligatory driver change-over between the 10th and 20thminutes.

For the third heat, the groups were redrawn using the provisional classification.

Muller and Snobeck, in the Opel Astra, dominated their group, winning all three races with ease.

Likewise, Tarres and Duez won their first two heats, finishing second behind the Peugeot 306 of Colard and Noberasco in the third.

Nissan's Malcher and Collard won their first race when Eric Helary, taking over from his Opel team-mate Jean-Philippe Dayraut, made a minor mistake, blocking the track.

They also won their night round, while Dayraut and Helary recovered to win their second heat, coming in second in the night race.

Helary and Dayraut were classified fourth, ahead of Colard and Noberasco and the Ragnotti/Vaison Renault Mégane.

The Méga Glace, making a reappearance on the ice in the hands of Stéphane Peterhansel and Bertrand Balas, was classified seventh.

This is the car that Philippe Gache took to third place in last year's Andros Trophy, and although it has a new, more powerful, engine, there has been little time for testing.

The car is still set up for Gache, who favours a totally different style of driving to Peterhansel and Balas.

GT driver Michel Ligonnet was delighted with his result, his Porsche 993being classified ninth after qualifying.

"That was great." he said after the first race.

"I took the car over from Marcel in sixth place, gained a place on the first lap, two others by the fifth lap and then I was all alone until the chequered flag."

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