Reigning European Touring Car Cup champion Michel Nykjaer claimed pole position for the first race of the 2008 edition at Austria's Salzburgring at the wheel of the Chevrolet Lacetti run by the Chevrolet Motorsport Denmark team.

Another former champion, Richard G?ransson - who won at Vallelunga in 2005 - will complete the front row with his Flash Engineering BMW 320si, while fellow BMW driver Franz Engstler took his Liqui Moly Team Engstler car to the third fastest lap.

In the Super Production class, Italian driver Fabio Fabiani claimed the second consecutive pole position in an F. Motorsport BMW 320i, while Ralf Martin from Germany and his TLM Ford Fiesta set fastest time in the Super 1600 class.

Qualifying took place in sunny conditions and Nykjaer - in his first weekend at the wheel of the Lacetti was the first driver to post a provisional fastest lap at 1min 28.430secs. However, having completed just two timed laps, George Tanev went off at turn 13 and his car remained stranded in the gravel trap - with the session being red-flagged to allow his car to be recovered.

A few minutes after the session resumed, another driver went off in the same corner, Oscar Nogues with the SUNRED SEAT Leon. With his car immediately towed to a safe place, the Spaniard did not cause a second red flag, but he wasn't able to rejoin but still secured seventh on the grid.

Thomas Engstr?m's Honda Accord then set a new provisional fastest lap at 1min 28.155secs, which was soon improved by Franz Engstler who went down to 1min 28.072secs. Nykjaer was ready to strike back however. First he regained the top spot with a lap of 1min 27.766secs and then improved further to 1min 27.609secs, which was enough to win pole position.

"It is fantastic to come and defend the title from last year," he said. "It is the first time I am racing for Chevrolet Denmark and, yes I am very happy! We start from pole position tomorrow, which is very good beginning for the race. There are many laps to go, so let's see what we can do. The Chevrolet is fantastic to drive and has a very good grip. Yesterday we set the car up to get the best from it, the tyres and the track. I think we have a chance to stay where we are now when the weekend is over. All considered I don't think it was risky to move to Chevrolet at the eve of this event."

In the final stages, Richard G?ransson and Kristian Poulsen moved on to second and fifth respectively, with Engstler and Engstrom between them. Jan 'Flash' Nilsson took sixth ahead of Nogues, while the top ten was completed by Cesar Campanico, Jens Reno Moller and Mikko Eskelinen.

In the Super Production class, Fabiani set the fastest lap in his BMW 320i in 21st overall which put him a second clear of the VW Golf of Nikolay Karamishev. The Honda Integra of Egons Lapins was third fastest, albeit three seconds off the pace.

"I am very happy for this result," Fabiani said. "My car was absolutely perfect and the team did a great job. Tomorrow I expect to have a couple of good races because I really aim for a good result."

Pole position in the Super 1600 class was won by Martin's Ford Fiesta with a lap of 1min 39.120secs. That put him four-tenths of a second clear of Carsten Seifart, with the Citroen C2 of Jens Lohnig in third.

"We are very happy with this result, especially because this morning we had a few problems," Martin said. "But later in the second practice and the qualifying it was very good. I think that tomorrow we will have good fights, there are only six cars in the class but competition is very close. I believe that Carsten Seifer and Guido Thierfelder will be two serious competitors as they are both fast drivers."



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