Chevrolet's Rob Huff has claimed pole position for tomorrow's opening race of the World Touring Car Championship at Curitiba
The Briton denied RML team-mate Yvan Muller a hat-trick of pole positions at the Brazilian venue by going fastest in the second, decisive, 10 minute qualifying session. Rain affected the closing stages, preventing Huff's competitors from improving on his time of 1m21.758s. The Briton had earlier looked in danger of missing the Q2 cut until he loosened the reins for his final lap and took fifth in Q1.
World champion Muller will start tomorrow's race from the outside of the front row. Caca Bueno will line up third in only his second WTCC outing with Chevrolet, ahead of highest-placed Yokohama Trophy driver Michel Nykjaer. The Danish SUNRED SEAT driver will head the grid for Sunday's second, reverse grid, race, courtesy of finishing 10th in the opening 20-minute qualifying session.
The failure of Alain Menu, in the final Chevrolet entry, to progress into Q2 was the biggest upset of an intriguing first qualifying session. The Swiss failed to make cut for the 10 fastest drivers after appearing to misjudge an attempt to secure the race two pole by taking 10th in Q1. Instead he finished in a frustrated 11th place, though team boss Ray Mallock remained satisfied with the overall result.
"I can't grumble with a one-two-three," said Mallock. "That first qualifying is a bit of a lottery for everyone. Alain's pace wasn't fast enough, which was bit of a shame. He was out there on the last lap, but I haven't spoken to him."
Tiago Monteiro, fastest in qualifying one, had mixed feelings on the new format as he will start 10th on the race two grid.
"It was a bad strategy, as we knew most people were going to play," said Monteiro. "That's what I don't like about this new system, there is too much waiting and playing. That's exactly what happened. I should have been told after going third fastest that Chevy weren't pushing.
"[Team-mate] Gabriele [Tarquini] held back, and that's what I should have done. But I went out early, because of our team's strategy with the other team-mates, and I thought, 'well, it's qualifying let's push.' I pushed a bit more, though, which was pole position. Look at Menu, though, you can play too much. It's not how I feel qualifying should be. Perhaps you could award points, but then you're making it very complicated."
Engstler's Kristian Poulsen second took second in Q1, and ninth on the race two grid. Muller lapped half a second off his final practice pace in Q1 and finished the session third overall, ahead of Poulsen's team-mate Franz Engstler.
Race one grid:Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Rob Huff Chevrolet 1m21.758s 2. Yvan Muller Chevrolet 1m22.147s + 0.389s 3. Carlos Bueno Chevrolet 1m22.503s + 0.745s 4. Michel Nykjaer SUNRED SEAT 1m22.632s + 0.874s 5. Kristian Poulsen Engstler BMW 1m22.678s + 0.920s 6. Gabriele Tarquini SUNRED SEAT 1m22.842s + 1.084s 7. Tiago Monteiro SUNRED SEAT 1m22.925s + 1.167s 8. Tom Coronel ROAL BMW 1m23.095s + 1.337s 9. Fredy Barth SUNRED SEAT 1m23.338s + 1.580s 10. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW 1m31.527s + 9.769s 11. Alain Menu Chevrolet 1m23.260s (Q1) 12. Robert Dahlgren Polestar Volvo 1m23.300s (Q1) 13. Pepe Oriola SUNRED SEAT 1m23.343s (Q1) 14. Mehdi Bennani Proteam BMW 1m23.556s (Q1) 15. Darryl O'Young bamboo Chevrolet 1m23.793s (Q1) 16. Marchy Lee KK BMW 1m24.111s (Q1) 17. Javier Villa Proteam BMW 1m24.268s (Q1) 18. Aleksei Dudukalo SUNRED SEAT 1m24.781s (Q1) 19. Yukinori Taniguchi bamboo Chevrolet 1m25.069s (Q1) 20. Fabio Fabiani Proteam BMW 1m29.666s (Q1) Race two grid:Pos Driver Team/Car 1. Michel Nykjaer SUNRED SEAT 2. Fredy Barth SUNRED SEAT 3. Tom Coronel ROAL BMW 4. Gabriele Tarquini SUNRED SEAT 5. Carlos Bueno Chevrolet 6. Rob Huff Chevrolet 7. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW 8. Yvan Muller Chevrolet 9. Kristian Poulsen Engstler BMW 10. Tiago Monteiro SUNRED SEAT 11. Alain Menu Chevrolet 12. Robert Dahlgren Volvo 13. Pepe Oriola SUNRED SEAT 14. Mehdi Bennani Proteam BMW 15. Darryl O'Young bamboo Chevrolet 16. Marchy Lee KK BMW 17. Javier Villa Proteam BMW 18. Aleksei Dudukalo SUNRED SEAT 19. Yukinori Taniguchi bamboo Chevrolet 20. Fabio Fabiani Proteam BMW Race one: Q2 top 10 then Q1 results from 11th Race two: Q1 results with top 10 reversed
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