Qual: Farfus on pole

After its domination of the previous round at Imola, Alfa Romeo maintained its new and improved form in qualifying for the penultimate meeting of the European Touring Car Championship. With just four races left in the series, two of them on BMW's home turf at Oschersleben this weekend, the red cars have hit form just at the right time

Qual: Farfus on pole

But rather than reigning champion and title challenger Gabriele Tarquini setting the pace, it was Alfa Romeo's rookie Augusto Farfus Jr that took the pole. The Italian could only manage the third fastest time behind title rival Andy Priaulx in the first of the BMWs.

"After Imola, it was no surprise to see the Alfas so strong," said Priaulx. "Even last year, Gabriele (Tarquini) was fighting for the podium with 40 kilos on board, so I'm not surprised at all.

"We had a few difficulties with the dust and the gravel on the track, but I think we put a good lap together in the end. I'm happy to be in such a strong position for the start of the first race tomorrow. I'm rather confident. I think the championship is probably going to be decided in Dubai. There are three or four drivers who still have a chance to win the title, and I'm among them."

Tarquini was surprised at the pace of the 156: "It's always quite hot here, and the long slow corners are normally hard for the Alfas. But this weekend, the car had been good from the first moment on. It was downright perfect in qualifying!

"It was hard to find a clear lap, though. The biggest problem however is that the track is always dirty. Concentration will be important for the races tomorrow, and let's hope that the heat won't be a problem. I think we are strong enough to fight for the podium, and maybe even for the win."

Championship leader Dirk Muller, carrying 30kg of ballast (10 less than Tarquini), could only manage fourth fastest time for the Team Deutschland BMW squad ahead of the moonlighting BTCC championship leader James Thompson, in the third of the Alfas. Franck Diefenbacher was sixth in the first of the works SEATs.

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