Vila Real WTCC: Citroen's Jose Maria Lopez and Ma Qing Hua on poles

Jose Maria Lopez claimed pole position for the first Vila Real World Touring Car Championship race, while Citroen team-mate Ma Qing Hua ran tactically to secure race two's reversed-grid pole

Vila Real WTCC: Citroen's Jose Maria Lopez and Ma Qing Hua on poles

Lopez, last to run in the Q3 top-five qualifying shootout, lapped in 1m58.515s and eclipsed team-mate Sebastien Loeb's already impressive 1m59.090s.

Ma and Yvan Muller, the other works Citroens, chose to shoot for race two pole and went out in Q2.

That helped two Hondas to make it through to Q3, the factory entry of Gabriele Tarquini and independent Zengo runner Norbert Michelisz.

But Tarquini made a mistake on his hot lap and went straight to the pits, leaving him fifth on the grid, while Michelisz was uncharacteristically scrappy and lined up fourth.

Campos Chevrolet driver Hugo Valente was an impressive third in a car that has struggled for pace all weekend.

WTCC drivers want Vila Real track changes

Q2 had ended dramatically as many drivers delayed their runs until the final moments.

With three minutes remaining only six drivers - Lopez, Loeb, Michelisz, Michael Valente, Nicky Catsburg and Jaap van Lagen - had set a time, while the factory Hondas and remaining works Citroens held out to the last.

Having 12 drivers in Q2 should in theory prevent anyone being able to drive slowly for the 10th place required for race two pole, but such tactics became possible with two of the 12 sidelined.

Nestor Girolami played no role in Q2, halting with a suspected puncture on his out-lap and bringing out qualifying's second red flag.

Mehdi Bennani had already brushed the barrier in his Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen and pitted without setting a time, enabling Muller and Ma to trundle around and finish ninth and 10th to claim the reverse-grid front row.

The works Hondas shot for the top five but only Tarquini made the grade, since Tiago Monteiro clipped a bollard at the Turn 19 chicane and dropped time, closing the session sixth.

Q1 had been red-flagged just after the halfway point owing to a bizarre incident in which Muller was waved out of the pits with a supplementary cooling fan still attached to the front of his Citroen, a temporary liaison that lasted just a handful of corners before it fell off.

All bar one of the Chevrolets were eliminated in Q1, along with the brake-troubled Lada of Rob Huff, who lost track time after a double front-wheel bearing change delayed his entry to the circuit, compounded by a call to the weighbridge.

Gregoire Demoustier and John Filippi are regular Q1 departures but there was greater disappointment for Tom Chilton, who had made a raft of set-up changes in an effort to find more pace, and for Tom Coronel, who was left fulminating after Ma blocked him at Turn 19 on a lap that could have elevated him to the top 12.

Follow the first race of the Vila Real WTCC weekend as it happens with AUTOSPORT Race Centre Live from 11.45am UK time on Sunday

RACE ONE STARTING GRID:

Pos Driver Team Car Time Gap
1 Jose Maria Lopez Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 1m58.515s -
2 Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 1m59.090s 0.575s
3 Hugo Valente Campos Racing Chevrolet 1m59.333s 0.818s
4 Norbert Michelisz Zengo Motorsport Honda 2m00.023s 1.508s
5 Gabriele Tarquini Honda Racing Team JAS Honda - -
6 Tiago Monteiro Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 2m00.349s -
7 Nicky Catsburg LADA Sport Rosneft Lada 2m01.724s -
8 Jaap van Lagen LADA Sport Rosneft Lada 2m02.187s -
9 Yvan Muller Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 2m39.871s -
10 Ma Qinghua Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 3m17.063s -
11 Mehdi Bennani Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen - -
12 Nestor Girolami Honda Racing team Sweden Honda - -
13 Rob Huff LADA Sport Rosneft Lada 2m01.186s -
14 Stefano D'Aste All-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport Chevrolet 2m01.333s -
15 Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 2m01.338s -
16 Tom Chilton ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 2m01.516s -
17 John Filippi Campos Racing Chevrolet 2m04.538s -
18 Gregoire Demoustier Craft-Bamboo Racing Chevrolet 2m05.128s -


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Vila Real WTCC: Jose Maria Lopez leads race one Citroen one-two

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