Chevrolet driver Robert Huff has taken pole position for tomorrow’s opening race of the 2011 World Touring Car Championship season after clocking the fastest lap time in the top-ten qualifying shootout at Curitiba.

Robert Huff took a well-earned pole at Curitiba The Briton denied his team-mate Yvan Muller from a hat-trick of pole positions at the circuit, while Brazilian guest driver ‘Cacá’ Bueno delighted home fans by completing a Chevrolet 1-2-3. The team’s other driver, Alain Menu, will start from pole position for the second race, after getting a lucky break when SEAT driver Fredy Barth had his qualifying times disallowed.

All of the signs were pointing towards a Chevrolet on pole today after the blue cars had headed the order in the first (wet) and second (dry) free practice sessions on Saturday.

The teams and drivers were given their first opportunity to sample the new-for-2011 qualifying rules, which see the grid order for Race 2 determined by reversing the rankings of the ten-quickest drivers. The rule has been widely criticised up and down the grid, with many feeling that it would encourage them to sandbag in the opening phase of qualifying.

And if ever a driver was going to test this theory out, it was going to be Alain Menu. Having been penalised several times last season for similar offences – dropping down the order in Race 1 so as to give himself a better starting position for Race 2 – Menu rolled the dice with this ploy in Q1 and is backfired: he finished 11th-quickest.

Ironically, it would be a last-ditch effort from his team-mate Huff that knocked the Swiss driver out of the top ten, but his fortunes turned around when his compatriot Barth wasFredy Barth was stripped of his qualifying times stripped of his qualifying times for failing (twice, no less!) to stop at the FIA weigh bridge.

The stewards’ decision booted Barth – who had made the Q2 cut – to the back of the grid, and promoted Menu into the all-important tenth place on the timing sheets that would give him pole for Race 2.

Another driver to face the stewards after qualifying was Bamboo Engineering’s Darryl O’Young. The Hong Kong driver had his times – which put him 14th on the grid – disallowed for a breach of the Parc Fermé regulations. He will start from the back of the grid for both races alongside Barth.

Up at the front, Tiago Monteiro took the fastest time overall in Q1 after being outfumbled by some of his rivals running banker laps to work the qualifying rules in their favour. Kristian Poulsen was an impressive second-quickest and his Engstler BMW team-mate Franz Engstler was fourth-fastest in Q1, with the pair being split by Muller. Also making it through to Q2 were

In the top-ten shootout were Bueno, Michel Nykjær, Gabriele Tarquini and Tom Coronel.

Caca Bueno gave the home fans plenty to cheer about by qualifying third-fastest Huff’s Race 1 pole was all but assured when more rain hit the circuit in the ten-minute mad dash, and he finished comfortably quicker than team-mate Muller, while Bueno was a similar margin behind the defending World Champion.

Nykjær fiished quickest of the SEATs and will line up fourth, while team-mates Tarquini and Monteiro will line up sixth and seventh.

Poulsen took the honours as the fastest BMW driver in fifth place, while Coronel could do no better than eighth-fastest. Engstler had his quickest Q2 lap time disallowed for cutting the first corner chicane on his hot lap.

Eleventh on the grid for both races is Robert Dahlgren in the new Volvo C30, with the Swede proving to be the quickest of the four normally-aspirated cars in this field. Fellow non-turbo runner Fabio Fabiani (Proteam BMW) will need the grace of the race stewards to take the start in Sunday’s races, after he failed to post a lap time within 107% of Monteiro’s Q1-topping effort.

Pepe Oriola qualified fastest of the debutants Of the grid’s rookie runners, Pepe Oriola showed good discipline in his first WTCC outing and will start his SEAT from 12th on the grid, while fellow Spaniard Javier Villa had less mileage than he’d have liked – his BMW suffered all manner of mechanical issues in practice – and will start from 15th. Aleksei Dudukalo is not surprisingly down the order in 16th, after the Russian crashed his SEAT in the opening test session.

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2011 FIA WTCC Race of Brazil Q1 & Q2 Session Times (Race 1 Grid):

Driver Team Time
1. Robert Huff GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:21.758 (Q2)
2. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:22.147 (Q2)
3. Carlos ‘Cacá’ Bueno BRZ RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:22.503 (Q2)
4. Michel Nykjær DEN SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 1:22.632 (Q2)
5. Kristian Poulsen DEN Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 1:22.678 (Q2)
6. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 1:22.842 (Q2)
7. Tiago Monteiro POR SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 1:22.925 (Q2)
8. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 1:23.095 (Q2)
9. Franz Engstler DEU Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 1:31.527 (Q2)
10. Alain Menu SUI RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:23.260
11. Robert Dahlgren SWE Polestar Volvo C30 Volvo 1:23.300
12. Pepe Oriola ESP SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 1:23.343
13. Mehdi Bennani MOR Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW 1:23.556
14. Marchy Lee Ying Kin HKG KK Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 1:24.111
15. Javier Villa García ESP Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW 1:24.268
16. Aleksei Dudukalo RUS Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 1:24.781
17. Yukinori Taniguchi JPN Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti 2.0 Chevrolet 1:25.069
18. Fabio Fabiani ITA Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si BMW 1:29.666
19. Darryl O’Young* HKG Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti 2.0 Chevrolet 1:23.793  
20. Fredy Barth** SUI Swiss SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 1:23.338 (Q2)

Top-10 starting order determined via a separate top-ten single-lap qualifying session
* Darryl O’Young’s qualifying times were excluded due to a Parc Fermé infringement.

** Fredy Barth’s qualifying times were excluded for failing to stop at the weigh bridge when requested during qualifying.

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2011 FIA WTCC Race of Brazil Q1 Session Times (Race 2 Grid):

Driver Team Time
1. Michel Nykjær DEN SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 1:23.180
2. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 1:23.138
3. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 1:23.095
4. Carlos ‘Cacá’ Bueno BRZ RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:23.084
5. Robert Huff GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:23.059
6. Franz Engstler DEU Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 1:23.008
7. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:22.980
8. Kristian Poulsen DEN Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 1:22.925
9. Tiago Monteiro POR SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 1:22.869
10. Alain Menu SUI RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:23.260
11. Robert Dahlgren SWE Polestar Volvo C30 Volvo 1:23.300
12. Pepe Oriola ESP SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 1:23.343
13. Mehdi Bennani MOR Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW 1:23.556
14. Marchy Lee Ying Kin HKG KK Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 1:24.111
15. Javier Villa García ESP Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW 1:24.268
16. Aleksei Dudukalo RUS Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 1:24.781
17. Yukinori Taniguchi JPN Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti 2.0 Chevrolet 1:25.069
18. Fabio Fabiani ITA Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si BMW 1:29.666
19. Darryl O’Young* HKG Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti 2.0 Chevrolet 1:23.793
20. Fredy Barth** SUI Swiss SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 1:23.338

Top-10 starting order determined reversing the order of the ten fastest drivers in Q1.
* Darryl O’Young’s qualifying times were excluded due to a Parc Fermé infringement.

** Fredy Barth’s qualifying times were excluded for failing to stop at the weigh bridge when requested during qualifying.

[Original images via FIA WTCC Media]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

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