Australian F3000 Mark Webber will start tomorrow's race at Magny-Cours from seventh position, after overcoming handling difficulties in qualifying.

The opening half-hour left him only 13th fastest, but Webber and the Eurobet-backed Arrows team improved the car significantly between sessions, enabling the twenty-three year old to move up the order at the second attempt, and set a best time of 1min 27.555secs.

''The car was very good in the second session,'' commented Webber, ''I only wish we had had it that way in the first place! But, I couldn't get any traction through the slow stuff in the first session and was struggling quite a bit with the car. Time definitely wasn't on our side today, but I think we've done a pretty job in the second session considering where we were, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow's race. There are quite a few 'new' faces ahead of me on the grid while Bruno [Junqueira] is right behind! I think it will be n interesting race!''

Webber's team-mate, Dutchman Christijan Albers, will start 17th, after a best lap of 1min 27.923secs, but was disappointed not to be higher after setting the 12th fastest time in the opening session.

''The first session was okay for me,'' said Albers, ''We changed the ride height between sessions which made the car much better, but I had mid-corner understeer when I put my new tyres on and wasn't able to put together the lap I was looking for.''

''It was a rather uneventful qualifying,'' added team boss, Paul Stoddart, ''After the first session, we were hoping to have both our cars in the top ten, but we've ended up with just one. Mark did a creditable job to take seventh spot, but Christijan struggled a little bit in the second session and will start further back than he probably deserves. Points have been scored from this position before, however, so we'll have to wait and see.''

The front row for tomorrow's F3000 race will be an all French affair, with reigning French Formula 3 champion, Sebastien Bourdais, securing his first pole position with a time of 1min 27.071secs, while fellow countryman Nicolas Minassian will start in second position, with a time of 1min 27.329secs.



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