Morbidelli Beats Kristoffersson To Pole As Audis Dominate Spa

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Gianni Morbidelli - Photo Credit: Superstars Media

The four-wheel-drive Audi RS5s dominated Saturday at the International Superstars Series round at Spa-Francorchamps, with Gianni Morbidelli beating Johan Kristoffersson to pole position in qualifying.

With rain throughout the two practice sessions, the Audi duo of Morbidelli and Kristoffersson had been unbeatable.

The track was drying during the 30 minute qualifying session, but still no one could topple the German manufacturer.

Morbidelli was the first to make the switch to slicks, setting a time of 2m37.875s inside the final ten minutes that decimated Kristoffersson's previous best of 2m43.425s.

Morbidelli improved to a 2m32.340s before the end of the session, betting Kristoffersson's final effort by six tenths of a second.

Championship leader Vitantonio Liuzzi was the best of the rest in his CAAL Racing Mercedes C63 AMG, 1.676s slower than Morbidelli.

2011 series runner-up Luigi Ferrara makes his return to CAAL this weekend in place of Max Mugelli and will start alongside his teammate Liuzzi on the second row of the grid.

Mika Salo is making his second appearance in the #1 Maserati Quattroporte he previously piloted at the season opener at Monza, and the Finn clocked the fifth fastest time. He was 2.6s slower than Morbidelli, and was only eighth in the 'ideal times' classification but crucially strung all his personal best sectors together in the same lap.

That put him 0.058s ahead of Romeo Ferraris Mercedes driver Camilo Zurcher, who was in turn 0.047s clear of Thomas Biagi in the best of the BMWs.

Biagi's Dinamic teammate Stefano Gabellini would have been ahead of Salo in fifth had he not lost time in the final sector on his final effort, but will have to make do with eighth.

Andrea Larini set the fastest first sector in the second Romeo Ferraris Mercedes but could only manage the ninth best lap. Thomas Schoffler had nothing like the pace of his fellow Audi drivers, and the German youngster was only tenth in his MTM-entered RS5, three seconds off the pace.

Paolo Meloni put his family-run BMW in 11th ahead of the Chevrolet Lumina of Francesco Sini and the Jaguar XFR of Domenico Ferlito.

British Touring Car Championship regular Jeff Smith qualified 14th for his debut in Dinamic's third BMW, some seven seconds off the pace. That still put him ahead of the second Maserati of Mauro Cesari.

Jeff Smith - Photo Credit: Superstars Media

Smith did not have it easy on his first day in the series – Photo Credit: Superstars Media

Roma Racing Team boss Nico Caldarola was 16th, while his second Mercedes that is being shared by Luca Rangoni and Alessandro Garafano had all its times deleted. 69-year-old Walter Meloni was nearly 20 seconds off the pace in 17th, while Max Pigoli managed only one flying lap.

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Peter joined the TCF team in September 2010 and covers GP2 and GP3 along with WTCC and Formula Two. You can find him on twitter at @PeteAllen_
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