There was a surprise in the BCN Competicion camp as FIA F3000 qualifying drew to a close at the A1-Ring in Austria, for rookie Alessandro Piccolo was further up the grid than team-mate Rob Nguyen.

With a year of action in the Formula One support series under his belt, the Australian was expected to comfortably out-gun his new Italian team-mate but, in front of a crowd of invited guests, the man who learnt his trade in Austria and Germany succumbed to the eyes upon him.

"We are relatively satisfied with the result of qualifying - in fact, this is our best qualifying on this season," commented team general manager Jaime Pintanel, "The surprise was to see Piccolo in front of Nguyen. It was a shame for Rob, who was under pressure in this race specially because his sponsors are Austrians, and perhaps the pressure affect him."

Nguyen was more rational in his explanation of the problem, preferring to admit to not having found the perfect handling balance on his Lola.

"It was a very difficult qualifying session," he confessed, "I had a lot of understeer and we need to improve the balance. We have a lot things to do on this matter. Starting from the back is not so good, but will see what happens in the race...."

Given his propensity for good starts - and the A1-Ring's record of producing a first corner accident, the Australian could soon be snapping at the heels of team-mate Piccolo, who recorded the BCN squad's best grid position ever, in eleventh.

"Things went well, but it would have been better to be in the top ten," the Italian said, "However, the result is good, and I hope to have a good race and take some points...."



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