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Priaulx returns to pole on French streets

16 May 2009

Andy Priaulx has secured his first World Touring Car Championship pole position since the 2006 season finale in Macau after leading the way in qualifying on the streets of Pau.

The BMW Team UK driver emerged on top in a tightly-fought session at BMW locked out the front row of the grid, but rivals SEAT were uncharacteristically off the pace as none of its drivers made it through to the second segment of qualifying and will all start well down the order as a result.

Priaulx had been second quickest in the first part of qualifying behind the Chevrolet of Rob Huff and left it led in the second segment of the session to steal pole from BMW Team Germany's Augusto Farfus by just 0.011secs. Behind them, Tom Coronel was third quickest in his Independent SEAT Leon TFSi, with the Dutchman's performance being made all the more impressive by the fact that he went into the barriers in the first part of qualifying and left the SUNRED team with work to do to repair the car.

Jorg Muller was fourth quickest ahead of Huff in the first of the Chevrolets, with Alain Menu and Nicola Larini right behind in sixth and seventh. Sergio Hernandez and Independent pair Felix Porteiro and Franz Engstler rounded out the top ten.

Of those unable to make the second section of qualifying, Alex Zanardi and Stefano D'Aste took eleventh and twelfth despite being forced to miss the second practice session following their coming together in first practice, while Marin Colak and Mehdi Bennani were 13th and 14th.

The first of the diesel-powered SEATs then slotted into 15th in the hands of Rickard Rydell as the Spanish armada struggled, with Jordi Gene, Gabriele Tarquini and Yvan Muller following the Swede on the times. Tiago Monteiro meanwhile was down in 21st place, just ahead of the LADA of Jaap van Lagen.


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