Macau WTCC: Rob Huff storms to pole after setting new lap record
|By Peter Mills||Friday, November 16th 2012, 09:51 GMT|
Rob Huff took another step towards securing his maiden World Touring Car Championship with a fourth pole position in as many years on the streets of Macau.
The Chevrolet driver, fastest in both sections of qualifying, eclipsed reigning world champion Yvan Muller by 0.722s with a new qualifying record of 2m29.422s.
Alain Menu, who is Huff's closest rival in the championship, will start third in the third of the Chevrolets.
"The guys at Chevrolet have done an incredible job over the last eight years," said Huff, "and to finish it off with a fourth pole position at Macau, a circuit that is one of my favourites, is something I am really happy about.
"I didn't pay any attention to what Yvan or Alain were doing, in fact I thought about disconnecting my radio as it was making a distracting buzzing noise."
The result increases Huff's lead over Menu in the standings by two points to 37, meaning a third-placed finish in Sunday's opening race would be enough to secure him the title.
Maintaining his practice deficit of 1.5s to Huff, Gabriele Tarquini claimed fourth place ahead of his 2013 Honda team-mate Tiago Monteiro.
Hong Kong racer Darryl O'Young claimed his first independents' pole in sixth overall. His Bamboo-Engineering mechanics worked through the night to repair a severely damaged Chevrolet chassis, a legacy of a large accident in Thursday's test.
Independents' points leader Norbert Michelisz was two places ahead of his nearest rival Pepe Oriola in seventh. Teenager Oriola had to dig deep to progress into Q2, only moving into the all-important top-12 in the final six minutes of Q1.
The first part of qualifying was interrupted when Fredy Barth crashed his SUNRED SEAT at Police Bend.
On the restart, Tom Coronel's attempts to improve on his 13th place, on the cusp of the Q2 cut-off, were scuppered first by traffic in the form of Mehdi Bennani and then by contact with the barriers on the exit of the Melco hairpin.
Britain's Alex MacDowall will start race two's reversed grid race from pole position, courtesy of qualifying 10th fastest in Q2.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Rob Huff Chevrolet 2m29.422s 2. Yvan Muller Chevrolet 2m30.144s + 0.722s 3. Alain Menu Chevrolet 2m30.488s + 1.066s 4. Gabriele Tarquini Lukoil SEAT 2m30.936s + 1.514s 5. Tiago Monteiro Honda 2m31.539s + 2.117s 6. Darryl O'Young Bamboo Chevrolet 2m31.643s + 2.221s 7. Norbert Michelisz Zengo BMW 2m31.670s + 2.248s 8. Mehdi Bennani Proteam BMW 2m32.157s + 2.735s 9. Pepe Oriola SUNRED SEAT 2m32.475s + 3.053s 10. Alex MacDowall Bamboo Chevrolet 2m32.521s + 3.099s 11. Stefano D'Aste Wiechers BMW 2m33.025s + 3.603s 12. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW 2m33.107s + 3.685s 13. Tom Coronel ROAL BMW 2m33.181s Q1 14. Tom Boardman Special Tuning SEAT 2m33.270s Q1 15. Fredy Barth SUNRED SEAT 2m33.358s Q1 16. James Nash Arena Ford 2m34.792s Q1 17. Tom Chilton Arena Ford 2m34.969s Q1 18. Aleksei Dudukalo Lukoil SEAT 2m35.025s Q1 19. Charles Ng Engstler BMW 2m35.180s Q1 20. Andre Couto SUNRED SEAT 2m35.218s Q1 21. Fernando Monje SUNRED SEAT 2m35.307s Q1 22. Kei Cozzolino ROAL BMW 2m39.020s Q1 23. Jo Merzsei Engstler BMW 2m40.785s Q1 24. Filipe de Souza China Dragon Chevrolet 2m40.795s Q1 25. Henry Ho Five Auto BMW 2m42.170s Q1 26. Kin Veng Ng China Dragon Chevrolet 2m42.229s Q1 27. Celio Alves Dias China Dragon Chevrolet 2m43.630s Q1 28. Eurico de Jesus Five Auto Honda 2m43.816s Q1 29. Ka Lok Mak RPM BMW 2m46.200s Q1