BMW Team RBM were caught out by pouring rain as their drivers – Andy Priaulx and Augusto Farfus – had to settle for ninth and tenth on the grid for the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) at Zolder, Belgium.
Both works backed cars made it through the first part of knockout qualifying, however, the team had to carry out a series of checks and set-up changes before Q2. Unfortunately, with the weather changing the delay meant both cars missed the ideal window to set a fast lap. Forced to take to the track in heavy rain Priaulx could only muster a lap of 1:42.856, while his Brazilian teammate was ten seconds slower (1:52.493).
“Unfortunately we had two situations that meant we could not send the cars out immediately at the start of Q2. Augusto had gone over a kerb in Q1 and we had to check his car over before we let him go out again for a shakedown lap,” explained Bart Mampaey, principal of Belguim based RBM. “Meanwhile Andy was among the last cars to take the chequered flag in Q1, so was back to his garage late. We needed to do a spring change to give him some more speed, and so this cost us vital moments.”
“If the weather had stayed dry we were sure we would benefit from the grip laid down by the other eight cars that had already gone out, but the weather conditions meant that this didn't happen. Sadly in the end neither driver was able to complete a flying lap in the dry.”
“I'm sure we could have been quite competitive in the second qualifying session, but
the weather conditions spoiled our strategy,” said Farfus, who ran the eighth fastest time in the first part of qualifying. “The rain came quickly and was heavier than could have been predicted.”
Priaulx was a promising fourth fastest after the opening session. “Of course I'm disappointed with this qualifying result,” he admitted. “We had hoped to be strong at this track. But as it turned out it would also have been difficult to challenge for pole under normal circumstances. It's a pity we then missed the right window to set a lap time in dry conditions only by a few seconds. Now we need to catch up on Sunday.”
Reigning champion Gabriele Tarquini, driving a SEAT took pole, with a time of 1:38.265.