Norbert Michelisz lived up to his billing as 'Hungarian Sportsman of the Year,' as voted for by his country's press, by achieving a shock maiden World Touring Car pole position at the series' inaugural visit to the Slovakia Ring
The Zengo Motorsport racer gained a useful slipstream from championship leader Yvan Muller at the completion of his 2m12.990s pole lap, to the delight of a significant number of Hungarian fans.
Lukoil Racing's Alesksei Dudukalo also achieved his best WTCC qualifying result in second, to complete an unusual front row for Sunday's opening race.
"This was a perfect day for me," said Michelisz. "For our team, a pole is almost as good as a race victory. I was expecting a headwind, so I was looking for someone to follow, and in the end I think the slipstream from Muller helped gain me around a tenth of second - perhaps that was enough to achieve pole."
Dudukalo praised the generosity of team-mate Garbriele Tarquini for sharing his racing lines. But the Russian completed an excellent lap to eclipse his "teacher," who lines up in third.
"I have to thank Gabriele for showing me the way," said Dudukalo, who was 0.086s shy of Michelisz's pole. "I made a small mistake on my best lap when I used too much kerb at the exit of Turn 1 and got a little sideways. It cost me around 0.2s, but I'm really happy."
Tarquini's performance follows a disrupted start to his Slovakian weekend. The Monza polesitter suffered a broken fuel pump and waste-gate control in practice, but the Italian played down power-steering gremlins that arose in qualifying.
"It is really unusual for there to be no blue cars among the top three," commented Tarquini on the absence of the RML Chevrolet drivers from the post-qualifying press conference. "I am not sure what happened to them, but I am sure they will come back strongly in the race."
Arena's James Nash continued his practice form to take fourth. Team-mate Tom Chilton's Ford Focus also progressed into the second qualifying session, reserved for the fastest 12 Q1 runners, despite completing just four flying laps during a troubled practice.
Portuguese Tiago Monteiro received a useful tow from Tuenti Racing team-mate Pepe Oriola to secure fifth place, ahead of fastest RML Chevrolet runner Yvan Muller.
The Chevrolets had appeared competitive in the 20 minute Q1 session, occupying three of the top five positions. Briton Rob Huff took an eventual seventh in his Cruze, ahead of Q1 pacesetter Oriola and the third factory Chevrolet of Alain Menu.
The combination of a late improvement in Q1 by Wiechers-Sport BMW Independent runner Stefano D'Aste and a red flag with 12s left on clocks resulted in Tom Coronel being bumped out of the all-important top 12.
The ROAL Motorsport driver had earlier received a black and orange flag when the left rear door of his BMW worked open.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Norbert Michelisz Zengo BMW 2m13.301s 2. Aleksei Dudukalo Lukoil SEAT 2m13.540s + 0.239s 3. Gabriele Tarquini Lukoil SEAT 2m13.621s + 0.320s 4. James Nash Arena Ford 2m13.725s + 0.424s 5. Tiago Monteiro Tuenti SEAT 2m13.790s + 0.489s 6. Yvan Muller Chevrolet 2m13.975s + 0.674s 7. Robert Huff Chevrolet 2m14.030s + 0.729s 8. Pepe Oriola Tuenti SEAT 2m14.148s + 0.847s 9. Alain Menu Chevrolet 2m14.166s + 0.865s 10. Stefano D'Aste Wiechers BMW 2m14.331s + 1.030s 11. Tom Chilton Arena Ford 2m14.414s + 1.113s 12. Alberto Cerqui ROAL BMW 2m14.447s + 1.146s 13. Tom Coronel ROAL BMW 2m14.490s + 1.189s 14. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW 2m14.676s + 1.375s 15. Mehdi Bennani Proteam BMW 2m14.823s + 1.522s 16. Darryl O'Young Special Tuning SEAT 2m14.856s + 1.555s 17. Alex MacDowall bamboo Chevrolet 2m15.039s + 1.738s 18. Pasquale di Sabatino bamboo Chevrolet 2m15.756s + 2.455s 19. Charles Ng Engstler BMW 2m16.129s + 2.828s 20. Gabor Weber Zengo BMW 2m16.536s + 3.235s 21. Tom Boardman Special Tuning SEAT
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