Paul Ricard WTCC: Sebastien Loeb and Citroen claim home pole

Citroen's Sebastien Loeb grabbed pole for his and the team's home World Touring Car Championship round at Paul Ricard in France

Paul Ricard WTCC: Sebastien Loeb and Citroen claim home pole

The nine time World Rally champion beat compatriot and team-mate Yvan Muller to pole by just over one tenth of a second in the top five shootout.

Citroen locked out the top four positions with Jose Maria Lopez and Ma Qing Hua filling row two ahead of Chevrolet's Tom Chilton.

While Citroen dominated most of the three qualifying segments, Chilton impressed in the battle to get into the top five shootout, placing his Cruze between Muller and Loeb for third in Q2.

Lopez had struggled for pace in the earlier sessions but unlocked the speed at the right moment to top that segment.

Loeb was closest to matching Lopez's pace, falling short by just 0.019s as just two tenths covered the quintet making it through.

Those narrow margins continued into the shootout.

Ma was first out in final qualifying but his place at the top lasted minutes as Muller moved clear by 0.239s to lead after two of the five cars' laps.

Loeb's time of 1m29.245s was then enough to set him just one tenth ahead of Muller, drawing applause from his nearest rival.

Lopez failed to beat his team-mates and took third behind the French pairing for Sunday's first race, lapping just 0.008s shy of Muller.

Mehdi Bennani will start on race two's reverse-grid pole for Loeb's Citroen customer team.

His crucial 10th place in Q2 looked like it might come under threat from Gregoire Demoustier and Nicky Catsburg before late problems for both.

The unpredictability of the practice sessions had flowed into Q1 as Tom Coronel's free practice two pace deserted him and he missed the cut, as did works Honda driver Gabriele Tarquini.

Also out early was Rob Huff, whose Lada Vesta's brake line failed and forced him into the barrier.

He would finish in 16th ahead of Rickard Rydell and John Filippi, behind Coronel, Tarquini and Stefano D'Aste.

RACE ONE STARTING GRID:

Pos Driver Team Car Time Gap
1 Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 1m29.245s -
2 Yvan Muller Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 1m29.370s 0.125s
3 Jose Maria Lopez Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 1m29.378s 0.133s
4 Ma Qinghua Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 1m29.617s 0.372s
5 Tom Chilton ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 1m29.831s 0.586s
6 Hugo Valente Campos Racing Chevrolet 1m30.133s -
7 Tiago Monteiro Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 1m30.158s -
8 Norbert Michelisz Zengo Motorsport Honda 1m30.559s -
9 Jaap van Lagen LADA Sport Rosneft Lada 1m30.843s -
10 Mehdi Bennani Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 1m31.345s -
11 Gregoire Demoustier Craft-Bamboo Racing Chevrolet 1m31.360s -
12 Nicky Catsburg LADA Sport Rosneft Lada 1m31.743s -
13 Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 1m30.688s -
14 Gabriele Tarquini Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 1m30.802s -
15 Stefano D'Aste All-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport Chevrolet 1m30.948s -
16 Rob Huff LADA Sport Rosneft Lada 1m31.029s -
17 Rickard Rydell Nika International Honda 1m31.162s -
18 John Filippi Campos Racing Chevrolet 1m31.443s -

RACE TWO STARTING GRID:

Pos Driver Team Car
1 Mehdi Bennani Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen
2 Jaap van Lagen LADA Sport Rosneft Lada
3 Norbert Michelisz Zengo Motorsport Honda
4 Tiago Monteiro Honda Racing Team JAS Honda
5 Hugo Valente Campos Racing Chevrolet
6 Tom Chilton ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet
7 Ma Qinghua Citroen Total WTCC Citroen
8 Jose Maria Lopez Citroen Total WTCC Citroen
9 Yvan Muller Citroen Total WTCC Citroen
10 Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WTCC Citroen
11 Gregoire Demoustier Craft-Bamboo Racing Chevrolet
12 Nicky Catsburg LADA Sport Rosneft Lada
13 Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet
14 Gabriele Tarquini Honda Racing Team JAS Honda
15 Stefano D'Aste All-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport Chevrolet
16 Rob Huff LADA Sport Rosneft Lada
17 Rickard Rydell Nika International Honda
18 John Filippi Campos Racing Chevrolet

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