Salzburgring WTCC: leaders bemused by farcical end to qualifying

Yvan Muller, Tom Chilton and Rob Huff were all left bemused by their rivals' tactics as World Touring Car qualifying ended in laughable fashion at the Salzburgring

Salzburgring WTCC: leaders bemused by farcical end to qualifying

NEWS UPDATE: massive fines and penalties for WTCC field

Muller was on provisional pole, with Chilton and Huff second and third, when the field - led by Chilton - headed out for one final flyer.

With ample time on the board, drivers elected to fight for the perfect slipstream position, worth around four tenths of a second, behind Chilton.

The Briton had intended to tow Muller, but with the Frenchman back in the pack he simply backed his pace off in an effort to deny the rest of the field a tow, and with it the chance to demote either himself or Muller.

Rather than pass the Chevrolet however the field followed suit, with all 12 cars locked together at a crawl for almost the entire out-lap - the result being that they failed to make the line before the chequered flag fell.

"You have to question some of the drivers out there," Muller said in the post-session press conference.

"For us it was funny - I didn't have to push for pole because I did it on my first go, but others did need to improve lap time and didn't.

"OK slipstream is important, but it's better to have no slipstream than no lap time."

Chilton said he opted to back the field up once he was given the all-clear from RML that he did not need to try and tow Muller.

"I feel like we outsmarted the field today," he told AUTOSPORT, "it was just a case of using our head.

"All of us [himself, Muller and Huff] were happy with where we were. There was no point in me pushing - it was only going to make everyone else go faster. I'm sure everyone else is kicking themselves."

Huff added: "Everyone wanted a slipstream from these two [Chilton and Muller], it's as simple as that.

"My engineer was counting time in my ear and it was obvious we were going to run out of time, and then the pace slowed even more.

"I've never crashed in first gear, in a line of 10 cars, in qualifying before... I've experienced it today."

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Series WTCC
Author Sam Tremayne
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