Alfa Romeo's Nicola Larini dominated the qualifying session for this weekend's FIA European Touring Car Championship rounds at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, heading an Alfa one-two
The former F1 star, currently second in the championship in his Nordauto-run 156 Gta, hammered in an early 2m34.697s - by far the quickest lap of the weekend. He then eclipsed that with a mighty 2m34.201s, and finished the session some two-tenths clear of his series leading team-mate Fabrizio Giovanardi.
"I am very 'appy with my second pole of the year," said Larini. "After our Oschersleben disaster, it shows the team has gone in the right direction."
Giovanardi, who admitted he was lucky not to roll in a high-speed off into the gravel in free practice on Thursday, left it until the very dying moments of the session to record his 2m34.474s.
"I had a problem on my first set of tyres, so I had to use all my tyres," he said. "I gained a lot of time on my final run, so I'm happy we have the front row of the grid."
Jorg Muller (Schnitzer BMW 320i), who carries 20kg of success ballast after the last round, was the best of the rest. But his 2m34.837s was six-tenths off Larini, despite his 500rpm advantage thanks to the recent rule changes.
"Without the weight handicap, I think I could have done the [pole] time," said Muller.
Oschersleben double winner Dirk Muller will have his work cut out to repeat the feat, however. His Schnitzer BMW ground to a halt at the bottom of Eau Rouge, just like the Carly-Isert sister car of Duncan Huisman had done earlier on. Dirk will start 11th, Huisman 21st and last.
Local hero Fredrik Ekblom was fourth fastest in his RBM-run BMW, just pipping the ever impressive Rickard Rydell, whose Volvo was fifth fastest despite carrying 10kg of success ballast.
Volvo gave the World Touring Car Championship a major boost when it announced it would enter the series, but its ambitions don't stop there. JACK COZENS examines its programme, the S60 and what its arrival means for the WTCC
The 2012 World Touring Car champion says he never had the money to race cars. Yet 2015 is his 11th season in the WTCC. He talks STUART CODLING through his journey from motorsport fan to paid professional - for little more than £100,000