Yvan Muller says he has been surprised by the pace advantage the SEAT Leon TDi has had over its rivals so far in the opening World Touring Car weekend of the season at Curitiba.
The reigning champion stated prior to winter testing that he feared the horsepower restriction imposed on the turbo diesels would make it difficult for him to defend his crown this season.
But Muller scored an emphatic pole position today as SEAT locked out the first five places on the grid with their works cars, and expected a closer fight with BMW and Chevrolet.
"We spent all winter worrying about the horsepower we lost and we didn't think we could recover the performance," Muller told autosport.com. "In testing we progressed some points of the car, but no major changes. Then to come here with 18 horsepower less and be in front, I am surprised, something is not normal.
"Ok, Chevrolet have a new car, but BMW don't seem to have progressed in the winter. I don't understand it, but of course I am pleased to be in front."
Muller warned against reading too far into the cars' respective performances at this early stage of the season, though.
"We have to see the first three races and then we will know a bit more," he added. "We were on pole here last year and we won both races, so I honestly don't know yet how it looks for the rest of the season."