Alain Menu has claimed pole for Race 1 at Porto

The Chevrolets have done it again, with Alain Menu heading another Team RML clean sweep in qualifying for this weekend’s World Touring Car Championship Race of Portugal on the streets of Porto.

In a thrilling final qualifying session, Menu pulled out a stunning sub-2m05s lap to snatch pole position from team-mate Yvan Muller, while fellow Chevrolet runner and championship leader Robert Huff was fractionally slower in third place.

Running with less performance ballast for the first time with their new turbocharged engines, the SEATs had a better time of it in qualifying, with lead drivers Gabriele Tarquini and home crowd favourite Tiago Monteiro rounding out the top-five for tomorrow’s first of two ten-lap races.

Quickest of the BMW drivers in Q2 was Tom Coronel, but he was unable to do any better than sixth place after he spun exiting the final corner on his last flying lap.

Robert Dahlgren’s impressive run of form continued in the little Volvo C30, with the Swede qualifying seventh-fastest in Q2, scraping into the final phase of qualifying with a late flying lap that will see him start fifth for Sunday’s second ‘reverse grid’ race.

The remainder of Race 1’s top-ten on the grid is a BMW trio, with Norbert Michelisz going quickest of the Independent Trophy drivers in eighth, followed by WTCC returnee Stefano D’Aste and veteran driver Franz Engstler.

Kristian Poulsen crashed The first phase of qualifying was a closely-fought affair that threatened to deliver plenty of upsets with some big names being threatened with elimination from the top-ten shoot-out. Late last-minute laps from the likes of Alain Menu were enough to see the Swiss driver through, and those who made it could count themselves lucky after Kristian Poulsen brought the session to a halt when he crashed at the final corner.

Stefano D'Aste starts from pole for Race 2 Gabriele Tarquini registered the fastest time of all in Q1, while Stefano D’Aste (tenth-quickest) will start from the all-important pole position in Race 2, which will give the Italian a shot at a fairytale victory on his return race to the series.

But D’Aste will have his work cut out warding off the Chevrolets of Muller and Huff, who start right behind him on the grid.

 

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

Driver Team Time
1. Alain Menu SUI RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 2:04.946 (Q2)
2. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 2:05.280 (Q2)
3. Robert Huff GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 2:05.284 (Q2)
4. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Lukoil-SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 2:05.548 (Q2)
5. Tiago Monteiro POR SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 2:05.656 (Q2)
6. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 2:06.143 (Q2)
7. Robert Dahlgren SWE Polestar Volvo C30 1.6T Volvo 2:06.678 (Q2)
8. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ-Dension Team BMW 320TC BMW 2:06.682 (Q2)
9. Stefano D’Aste ITA Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW 2:06.722 (Q2)
10. Franz Engstler DEU Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 2:06.770 (Q2)
11. Michel Nykjær DEN SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 2:07.021  
12. Darryl O’Young HKG Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 2:07.066  
13. Fredy Barth SUI Swiss SR León 1.6T Sunred 2:07.071  
14. Javier Villa García ESP Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW 2:02.072  
15. Kristian Poulsen DEN Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 2:07.134  
16. Pepe Oriola ESP SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 2:07.361  
17. Aleksei Dudukalo RUS Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 2:08.480  
18. Yukinori Taniguchi JPN Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 2:10.123  
             
  OUTSIDE 107%       2:15.244  
19. Mehdi Bennani MOR Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW no time  

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

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

Driver Team Time
1. Stefano D’Aste ITA Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW 2:06.987
2. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 2:06.964
3. Robert Huff GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 2:06.918
4. Tiago Monteiro POR SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 2:06.838
5. Robert Dahlgren SWE Polestar Volvo C30 Volvo 2:06.830
6. Franz Engstler DEU Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 2:06.827
7. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ-Dension Team BMW 320TC BMW 2:06.789
8. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 2:06.673
9. Alain Menu SUI RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 2:06.622
10. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Lukoil-SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 2:06.397
11. Michel Nykjær DEN SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 2:07.021
12. Darryl O’Young HKG Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 2:07.066
13. Fredy Barth SUI Swiss SR León 1.6T Sunred 2:07.071
14. Javier Villa García ESP Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW 2:02.072
15. Kristian Poulsen DEN Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 2:07.134
16. Pepe Oriola ESP SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 2:07.361
17. Aleksei Dudukalo RUS Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 2:08.480
18. Yukinori Taniguchi JPN Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 2:10.123
           
  OUTSIDE 107%       2:15.244
19. Mehdi Bennani MOR Scuderia Proteam 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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