Gabriele Tarquini took his third European Touring Car Championship Super Touring pole of the season at Zolder, Belgium, on Saturday with his very last lap of the session
Tarquini (JAS Honda Accord) was languishing in fourth with 48secs of the session remaining, but a sensational final lap meant he pipped the Nordauto-run Alfa Romeos of series leader Nicola Larini and Fabrizio Giovanardi. Gabriele had aborted an earlier effort after overstepping the mark at the first chicane and bouncing across the grass at high speed.
"The track conditions changed a lot from the start to the finish," said Tarquini. "Because there are no cones or tyres in the chicanes it means it's easy to cut, so there's always a lot of gravel on the racing line. That makes it very difficult for the traction of a front-wheel drive car. My car prefers faster tracks to this, because it's not so good in the slow corners, but I'm 'appy to be in front of both Alfas."
Larini led the Alfa charge after sitting out much of the session early on, due to an oil leak, and did just enough to outpace Giovanardi. But both Alfas were in the pit lane when Tarquini's final tour knocked them off the top.
"We lost 13 minutes in the pits and the car had leaked oil everywhere," said Larini. "I pushed really hard on my best lap and I was happy with it...until the end!"
Fresh from its engine trouble at Silverstone, Roberto Colciago's four-wheel drive Audi A4 Quattro had been expected to challenge for pole. But the Italian could only manage the fourth fastest time, albeit a full second clear over Matt Neal's Nissan Primera, which is still suffering with a leaking engine cylinder.
Gianluca de Lorenzi's BMW 320i was a surprise sixth, ahead of the second JAS Honda of Fabrice Walfisch.
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