Macau WTCC: Yvan Muller takes first Macau pole of career
|By Sam Tremayne||Friday, November 15th 2013, 09:38 GMT|
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.
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.
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 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