Alex Zanardi admitted his delight at securing his maiden pole position in the World Touring Car Championship at Brno, claiming that a return to the top of the qualifying times for the first time in more than ten years was a special feeling.

The popular Italian, who has won twice in the series in the past for the ROAL Motorsport-run BMW Team Italy-Spain outfit, broke the qualifying lap record by more than a second during the session as he left it late to snatch top spot from the Chevrolet of Alain Menu.

"My last pole position in an International qualifying dated back to 1997," he said. "It has really been a very long time since!

"The result of today, from a certain viewpoint, rounds the circle after the accident of 2001 and, honestly, I thought I would have never been able to keep everyone behind me again on the single lap. In the last years I won two WTCC races, but today's pole position has a special taste and, despite the fact that it does not count for the classification, believe me, it made me happier than a victory.

"I will have a great chance in the race: the team performed as usual a huge work and the car is really fast even with worn tyres. Keep your fingers crossed!"

To cap a fine session for the team, Felix Porteiro put the sister car on the second row of the grid with the third fastest time.

"To be among the first three in qualifying is always a good satisfaction," he said. "The car was really competitive and, possibly, it is even faster with wore tyres. I am very optimistic for the races. The championship is still open and this might be the chance to place myself within the battle for the title."