Gabriele Tarquini believes second was the best he could probably achieve after qualifying, starting behind triple champion Yvan Muller on the grid for the first race tomorrow, and is hopeful that the reliability issues which plagued SEAT in Italy are no more.
The Italian led the way in the second free practice session, and again in Qualifying 1 (courtesy of Yvan Muller’s fastest lap being disallowed by the stewards), but despite going faster in Q2, couldn’t match the best two laps set by Muller which sealed the Frenchman’s first pole since September last year, which was also at Valencia.
“The first run in Q2 was quite good. (The team) informed me I was two-tenths from Yvan’s first lap, I had another set of new tyres and I knew that I must gain two-tenths,” said Tarquini to TouringCarTimes.
“I tried to attack a little bit more but unfortunately I went off on corner 11. I was a little bit faster than my first run but not enough to score the pole position to be honest.”
Although Tarquini took pole position in Monza three weeks ago and fought with the Chevrolets in the first race to finish third, there were numerous problems for the other drivers with the new SEAT engine, with Aleksei Dudukalo stopping on circuit in both races, Pepe Oriola missing the start of race one and Darryl O’Young’s car suffering two engine failures before the first race had even started.
“I think the oil pressure problem is solved,” said Tarquini. “(As for the) electronics, I hope yes, because we had some problems in race and in free practice in Monza. Sometimes the car stopped in the middle of the straight and sometimes in the middle of the lap. It seems (to be) solved, but we’re not 100% sure.”
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s races, Tarquini’s uncertain whether or not the SEAT can overhaul Muller’s Chevrolet, despite the 50kg difference in weight due to the compensation weight Chevrolet is carrying, and is more weary of an attack from behind.
“Normally Chevrolet is a little bit more kind than us on tyre wear. To be honest I think Tom (Coronel) has a good chance to win the race as in race pace after a few laps always the BMW is much faster than front-wheel drive. He’s very close to the front row…and I think he’ll be big trouble after five or six laps especially if the temperature’s hotter than qualifying.”