Reigning World Touring Car champion Yvan Muller was perplexed after his RML Chevrolet team recorded its lowest starting position of the World Touring Car Championship season so far at the Slovakia Ring.
The factory Cruzes entered the fourth round of the championship unbeaten in this year's WTCC, and indeed had claimed every podium position in the preceding meeting in Marrakech.
The Chevrolets had appeared relatively competitive in the opening qualifying session at the Slovakia Ring, when Muller secured third place, but the Frenchman was at a loss to explain his final sixth position.
"It looks like the others didn't show their real potential in Q1," said Muller. "I don't understand how [Norbert] Michelisz found around 1.2s in Q2, whereas I did more or less the same time. I think I was three tenths faster than Q1, but we actually saw a similar trend in Marrakech."
Chevrolet Europe's motorsport manager Eric Neve remained upbeat over the team's race prospects: "We were working more on our race set-up in practice, so perhaps we weren't quite as well prepared for qualifying as usual. I hope it pays off for the race, but I don't know, we'll have to see on Sunday."
WTCC teams have had a limited opportunity to evaluate tyre wear over long runs in Slovakia. A track temperature of 42 degrees in qualifying, with continued hot weather forecast for Sunday's races, raises the prospect of potential heavy tyre wear for the front-wheel-drive cars.
"As we've only had two practice sessions, and it is a long lap here at around 2m13s, no one has really done that many long runs," said Muller.
"The circuit is wider than Marrakech, but we have to be fast to be able to make up places. In any case, I don't want to think any more about qualifying now. I want to focus on the race."