his Championship lead.
Neither of the Racing Engineering drivers had the Qualifying results they were hoping for today at the Hungaroring following a very promising Free Practice session this morning.
Free Practice was held under clear skies and fortunately, for all concerned, the high temperatures expected at the Hungaroring did not materialise. Both of the Racing Engineering drivers were immediately on the pace continuing the good form they had shown at the last race in Germany as once again the Spanish team produced two very competitive cars. At the end of the session Championship leader, Giorgio Pantano, was once again right at the front with the second fastest lap of 1m 28.820s, just 0.023s away from the quickest time. Javier Villa was also amongst the fastest finishing the session in 7th place with a time of 1m 29.112s, just 0.292s behind his team-mate.
With such competitive times both men were looking to be amongst the very fastest with their Repsol and Telefónica supported Dallaras during the 30 minute Qualifying session. However, through no fault of their own, neither driver was able to set the sort of times they were looking for with Giorgio Pantano finishing 7th in 1m 28.203s, 0.421s away from pole position as traffic ruined both of his quick laps. Javier Villa found himself down in 18th place with a time of 1m 29.094s as a slipping clutch hampered any chances he had of setting a quick lap.
For tomorrow’s Feature Race Giorgio Pantano will be looking to avoid any incidents and gain as many places as possible to increase his point score in the Drivers Championship. Given the speed and experience of the Italian driver this season nobody would be surprised to see Giorgio on the podium at the end of the day. For Javier the aim is similar, with his car repaired he will need to keep out of trouble and try and move up as high as possible. In the past the young Spaniard has been known for his great drives through the field so it would be wrong to discount his chances of a point-scoring finish tomorrow. One advantage both drivers have is the proven reliability of the Racing Engineering cars as the Spanish team have not suffered a single mechanical failure in any of the races this season.
Alfonso de Orleans Borbón (team principal): "A pity about the qualifying. I am sure we could have done much better. In any case we have to look forward now and prepare things well for tomorrow's race. Although overtaking is very difficult here in Budapest, the race will be long and everything is possible. Thanks to the boys again for their work."
Javier Villa (driver car 11): "The engine change was good. In free practice I was 7th, only 3 tenths off first position. I thought we can improve even more for qualifying, but in my second lap the clutch, newly mounted for this weekend, started to slip and I couldn't do more."
Giorgio Pantano (driver car 12): "We were quite unlucky today as I found traffic on both my fast laps. I was not allowed to do any better as then the tyres went and I had no grip anymore. Therefore I couldn't improve the time. It’s a long race tomorrow and difficult for the drivers as well as the car. We have to just stay calm, do a good start and see what happens."