Alain Menu took his first pole position for over two years

Chevrolet duo Alain Menu and Yvan Muller have put themselves in prime position to significantly close the points’ gap to team-mate and World Touring Car Championship points leader Robert Huff after the pair locked out the front row in qualifying for the opening race at the Hungaroring.

Their cause was made easier courtesy of a tactical error from the team, with Huff failing to make the top-ten phase of qualifying. He will start from 12th place for tomorrow’s two races. Huff was just 13th-fastest after his opening run, and although he improved to land up in the top-ten after his second run, quicker laps from rival drivers conspired to see him start from the midfield.

Fastest in Q1 was Javier Villa, with the WTCC rookie again showing impressive pace. He backed this up in Q2 with a lap that was provisionally quick enough to earn him a front-row start, until Muller’s final effort proved to much for the Spaniard.

Villa shares the second row of the grid with Tom Coronel, while Norbert Michelisz will start from fifth place on home soil in his BMW.

Aside from Villa, the other major hero in qualifying was Robert Dahlgren, who hauled his normally-aspirated Volvo C30 around the circuit quick enough to be second-fastest in Q1. With his car’s power deficit seemingly negated by the circuit’s slower nature, Dahlgren was revelling in the conditions and clocked the sixth-fastest time in Q2, less than four-tenths off Menu’s pole-grabbing time.

Tiago Monteiro wound up seventh-fastest and quickest of all the SEAT runners, with the SUNRED team splitting its runners between the venerable turbodiesel units and its new Lehman-developed 1.6-litre turbocharged engines.

The turbopowered SEATs – driven by Michel Nykjær, Pepe Oriola and Fredy Barth – wound up in positions 13th through 15th respectively, with the cars running roughly a second off the pace in Q1.

It was a disappointing day in qualifying for the two Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze entries, when one considers the headline-grabbing efforts of its sister RML squad. Darryl O’Young missed out on a Q2 berth by the merest fraction, while team-mate Yukinori Taniguchi could only manage a disappointing 18th-fastest.

With Race 2’s grid order decided by reversing the top-ten-fastest drivers from Q1, this means Mehdi Bennani will start the second race from pole position, while Menu’s ninth-fastest effort sees him enjoy another front-row berth and the optimum position to take a clean sweep of tomorrow’s races.

 

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

Driver Team Time
1. Alain Menu SUI RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:56.546 (Q2)
2. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:56.657 (Q2)
3. Javier Villa García ESP Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW 1:56.710 (Q2)
4. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 1:56.912 (Q2)
5. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ-Dension Team BMW 320TC BMW 1:56.923 (Q2)
6. Robert Dahlgren SWE Polestar Volvo C30 Volvo 1:56.945 (Q2)
7. Tiago Monteiro POR SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 1:56.974 (Q2)
8. Kristian Poulsen DEN Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 1:57.048 (Q2)
9. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 1:57.073 (Q2)
10. Mehdi Bennani MOR Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW 1:57.376 (Q2)
11. Darryl O’Young HKG Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:57.841  
12. Robert Huff GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:57.854  
13. Michel Nykjær DEN SUNRED SR León 1.6T SEAT 1:58.030  
14. Pepe Oriola ESP SUNRED SR León 1.6T SEAT 1:58.206  
15. Fredy Barth SUI Swiss SR León 1.6T SEAT 1:58.440  
16. Franz Engstler DEU Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 1:58.582  
17. Aleksei Dudukalo RUS Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 1:58.919  
18. Yukinori Taniguchi JPN Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:59.308  
             
  OUTSIDE 107%       2:05.367  
19. Fabio Fabiani ITA Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si BMW 2:05.381  
20. Urs Sonderegger SUI Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW no time  

Top-10 starting order determined via a separate top-ten single-lap qualifying session

————————————————————————————————————-

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

Driver Team Time
1. Mehdi Bennani MOR Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW 1:57.706
2. Alain Menu SUI RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:57.620
3. Kristian Poulsen DEN Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 1:57.599
4. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 1:57.589
5. Tiago Monteiro POR SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 1:57.578
6. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ-Dension Team BMW 320TC BMW 1:57.423
7. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 1:57.397
8. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:57.301
9. Robert Dahlgren SWE Polestar Volvo C30 Volvo 1:57.207
10. Javier Villa García ESP Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW 1:57.166
11. Darryl O’Young HKG Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:57.841
12. Robert Huff GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:57.854
13. Michel Nykjær DEN SUNRED SR León 1.6T SEAT 1:58.030
14. Pepe Oriola ESP SUNRED SR León 1.6T SEAT 1:58.206
15. Fredy Barth SUI Swiss SR León 1.6T SEAT 1:58.440
16. Franz Engstler DEU Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 1:58.582
17. Aleksei Dudukalo RUS Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 1:58.919
18. Yukinori Taniguchi JPN Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:59.308
           
  OUTSIDE 107%       2:05.367
19. Fabio Fabiani ITA Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si BMW 2:05.381
20. Urs Sonderegger SUI Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW no time

Top-10 starting order determined reversing the order of the ten fastest drivers in Q1.

[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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