Salzburgring WTCC: Gianni Morbidelli ends Citroen's pole streak

Gianni Morbidelli produced a stunning effort in qualifying for round five at the Salzburgring to end Citroen's unbeaten World Touring Car Championship pole streak

Salzburgring WTCC: Gianni Morbidelli ends Citroen's pole streak

The Munnich Motorsport driver, who already held the honour of being the only non-Citroen competitor to win this season, set a fastest Q3 time of 1m22.137s, to deny defending WTCC champion Yvan Muller pole by 0.049 seconds.

Morbidelli, consistently quickest through the Austrian venue's second sector during the weekend, surprised himself in the single-lap in Q3 which was faster than his Q2 time which had been set with the aid of a slipstream.

"To beat the Citroens and do a 1m22.1s lap alone is really something special, because there are three of them and they have been so strong everywhere," said Morbidelli.

Practice pacesetter Sebastien Loeb will start Sunday's opening race from third on the grid, ahead of the ROAL Motorsport Cruze of Tom Coronel.

Watch video highlights on the AUTOSPORT WTCC page

Championship leader Jose Maria Lopez's qualifying threat appeared to falter after the former TC2000 champion pirouetted at the daunting Turn 9 Fahrerlagerkurve in Q1.

Lopez only just made the Q3 cut by a scant 0.094s from Coronel's ROAL team-mate Tom Chilton.

The Fahrerlagerkurve was also the scene of spectacular spin for Serbian Dusan Borkovic in Q2, which brought the session to a halt.

In a near repeat of his Campos team-mate Hugo Valente's weekend-ending practice shunt, Borkovic managed to escape with less extensive damage to his Cruze.

Borkovic successfully scrubbed off speed by flooring the throttle on his front-wheel drive car when travelling sideways, ensuring he crashed into the barriers comparatively lightly.

On the restart, two large trains of cars circulated as drivers sought to find a slipstream.

Loeb led Lopez, Morbidelli, Rene Munnich and Tom Chilton, while the four Honda Civic WTCCs headed a separate group, onto the rear of which lurked Coronel and Muller.

Four-time WTCC champion Muller benefited from the tow to top Q2, while Coronel bumped Morbidelli back to third.

Factory Honda racer Gabriele Tarquini secured pole for the reversed-grid race two by qualifying tenth.

In the closing stages of the opening segment of qualifying, Tarquini had appeared vulnerable to being demoted from the top 12 who earn entry into Q2.

The Italian clung onto finish 12th in Q1 after a last ditch challenge from Lada failed to dislodge the former champion from his coveted position.

Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Gianni Morbidelli Munnich Chevrolet 1m22.137s 2. Yvan Muller Citroen 1m22.186s +0.049s 3. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 1m22.363s +0.226s 4. Tom Coronel ROAL Chevrolet 1m22.432s +0.295s 5. Jose Maria Lopez Citroen 1m22.507s +0.370s 6. Tom Chilton ROAL Chevrolet 1m22.565s Q2 7. Tiago Monteiro Honda 1m22.790s Q2 8. Mehdi Bennani Proteam Honda 1m22.866s Q2 9. Norbert Michelisz Zengo Honda 1m22.871s Q2 10. Gabriele Tarquini Honda 1m22.929s Q2 11. Rene Munnich Munnich Chevrolet 1m23.363s Q2 12. Dusan Borkovic Campos Chevrolet Q2 13. James Thompson Lada 1m23.705s Q1 14. Robert Huff Lada 1m23.722s Q1 15. Mikhail Kozlovskiy Lada 1m24.144s Q1 16. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW 1m27.550s Q1 17. John Filippi Campos SEAT 1m28.245s Q1 18. Pasquale Di Sabatino Engstler BMW 1m28.901s Q1 
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