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Macau WTCC: Yvan Muller takes first Macau pole of career

Yvan Muller, RML Chevrolet, Macau WTCC 2013

Yvan Muller captured the first Macau pole of his World Touring Car Championship career with an emphatic performance in qualifying.

The four-time world champion blazed to a new WTCC lap record of 2m28.933s on his final effort, leaving him a full second clear of the chasing pack in his RML Chevrolet.

Honda locked out second and third through works drivers Tiago Monteiro and Gabriele Tarquini, while 2012 champion Rob Huff - on pole for the last four years in Macau - claimed fourth for the Munnich SEAT squad.

Watch Macau video clips on the AUTOSPORT WTCC page

Rivals had feared Muller would be untouchable in qualifying, and so it proved as the Frenchman topped an extremely disjointed Q1, set the early pace in Q2 and then improved upon his own benchmark to blow his rivals out of the water.

His lap was nearly half a second faster than Huff's 2012 pole time, the previous WTCC qualifying record on the streets of Macau.

With Muller seemingly assured of pole, the final minutes of qualifying threatened to turn into a shootout for 10th and reversed-grid pole rather than the front rows - particularly as Huff, team-mate Marc Basseng and Tarquini were all yet to set a time going into the final two minutes.

The dynamic was never realised however; Tarquini put in his best lap of the weekend on his final flyer to seal third, just behind Monteiro, while Huff also jumped from 11th to fourth as the chequered flag flew.

Their gains worked in favour of Tom Coronel, who inherited 10th and therefore pole for Sunday's reverse-grid second race.

AUTOSPORT's Macau blog

Norbert Michelisz will share the third row of race one with Alex MacDowall, who starts directly ahead of Bamboo team-mate James Nash.

Tom Chilton split the pair, with the Briton's recovery from a heavy practice crash aided by numerous red flags both in Q1 and the preceding Formula 3 qualifying.

James Thompson, Lada, Macau WTCC 2013

James Thompson meanwhile sealed ninth, and with it a reverse-grid front row, for Lada.

Basseng and Boardman both narrowly missed out on the top 10 and will start from 11th and 12th respectively.

The pair had only narrowly crept through into the pole shootout, with free practice two pacesetter Pepe Oriola a surprise casualty. The Spaniard's Q1 best was just 0.045s slower than Boardman's.

First qualifying was a messy affair, punctured by three red flags as Campos duo Hugo Valente and Michael Soong and Wiechers' Fredy Barth all hit the barriers.

Pos  Driver               Team/Car                  Time       Gap
 1.  Yvan Muller          RML Chevrolet             2m28.933s
 2.  Tiago Monteiro       Honda                     2m29.933s  +1.000s
 3.  Gabriele Tarquini    Honda                     2m29.991s  +1.058s
 4.  Rob Huff             Munnich SEAT              2m30.107s  +1.174s
 5.  Norbert Michelisz    Zengo Honda               2m30.224s  +1.291s
 6.  Alex MacDowall       Bamboo Chevrolet          2m30.248s  +1.315s
 7.  Tom Chilton          RML Chevrolet             2m30.583s  +1.650s
 8.  James Nash           Bamboo Chevrolet          2m30.723s  +1.790s
 9.  James Thompson       Lada                      2m31.189s  +2.256s
10.  Tom Coronel          ROAL BMW                  2m31.287s  +2.354s
11.  Marc Basseng         Munnich SEAT              2m31.482s  +2.549s
12.  Tom Boardman         Special Tuning SEAT       2m34.989s  +6.056s
13.  Pepe Oriola          Tuenti Chevrolet          2m31.800s  Q1
14.  Mehdi Bennani        Proteam BMW               2m32.178s  Q1
15.  Stefano D'Aste       PB BMW                    2m32.666s  Q1
16.  Fredy Barth          Wiechers BMW              2m32.961s  Q1
17.  Darryl O'Young       ROAL BMW                  2m33.104s  Q1
18.  Hugo Valente         Campos SEAT               2m33.265s  Q1
19.  Konstantins Calko    Campos SEAT               2m33.847s  Q1
20.  Mikhail Kozlovskiy   Lada                      2m34.224s  Q1
21.  Franz Engstler       Engstler BMW              2m34.667s  Q1
22.  Charles Ng           Engstler BMW              2m34.775s  Q1
23.  Rene Munnich         Munnich SEAT              2m35.999s  Q1
24.  Henry Ho             Engstler BMW              2m37.142s  Q1
25.  Filipe de Souza      China Dragon Chevrolet    2m37.920s  Q1
26.  Yukinori Taniguchi   Nika Chevrolet            2m38.468s  Q1
27.  Jeronimo Badaraco    Son Veng Chevrolet        2m38.866s  Q1
28.  Michael Soong        Campos SEAT               2m39.897s  Q1
29.  Joseph Rosa-Merszei  Engstler BMW              2m40.551s  Q1
30.  Eurico de Jesus      PAS Honda                 2m41.016s  Q1
31.  Ng Kin Veng          China Dragon Chevrolet    2m41.494s  Q1
32.  Celio Alves Dias     China Dragon Chevrolet    2m42.521s  Q1
33.  Mak Ka Lok           RPM BMW                   2m42.959s  Q1
34.  Lam Kam San          China Dragon Chevrolet    2m46.831s  Q1
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