April 18, 2008
Published on tags: Superleague
For full qualifying results, click HERE.

The 2008 GPVWC World Championship started today with the qualifying session for the Australian Grand Prix. Mark Wicks on Woods Racing - Renault took the first pole of the season with a brilliant display and a flawless lap. The Cornish driver edged out fellow Briton Adam Rouse on APR by about half a second - leaving fans and pundits alike wondering whether fuel load can explain the difference between two of the most skilled drivers in the league.

The duel between Wicks and Rouse, hugely anticipated in the run-up to this day, can potentially become one of the most intense rivalries in the history of the GPVWC - at least on track, being that the two drivers are in perfectly friendly terms once outside of the car. Their efforts in this session are made even more impressive by the consideration that both drivers are equipped with cars that are believed not to be the top of the performance range in the GPVWC, a demonstration that pure driver's skill is often the best investment a team can make.

The second row was occupied by Philip Cullen, on the second APR Racing, and league veteran Scott Whiteman, on his return after a two-year hiatus: the Australian, multiple race winner for EIRE in 2004 and 2005, being a little more than a second off Wicks pace. Behind him, Daniel Bolman shares the third row with William Ponissi. The Dutch driver had some slippery moments in his lap, and we cannot help but think where he'd have been with a luckier lap: for sure, he will be one of the prospects to keep an eye on come raceday, and can surely score his first GPVWC points here at the Albert Park.

The last three classified drivers are Mal McKee in 7th, Laurentiu Albu in 8th and Martijn Vosselman in 9th. McKee, the third "survivor" from the 2002 season (the others being Ponissi and Wicks), seemed very heavy on fuel, and might be going for a strategy of consistency rather than for fast stints. Albu scored a little success for his Belami Racing team, by beating Vosselman on a Woods which share the Renault engines with the Romanian team - although on a works deal. Come race day, he'll be delighted to confirm his result and impress people at the French manufacturer.

For the Platform Michelangelo team, instead, qualifying was an absolute nightmare. Team owner and lead driver Michelangelo Manrique saw his efforts made vain by a technical irregularity resulting in a disqualification - despite the glitch had actually made his car slower! The team's second driver, Dutchman Jeroen Jansen failed even to make the track, and will be forced to start from the pit lane.

Conditions for the race seem likely to remain the same as in qualifying - sunny with no wind. As traditional in the opening Grand Prix of the season, anything can happen - and everything usually does!