Yvan Muller has claimed pole for tomorrow's race at Donington

Mixed weather conditions threw qualifying for this weekend’s World Touring Car Championship round at Donington Park into chaos, but Chevrolet’s Yvan Muller kept his head through it all to claim pole position for tomorrow’s opening race.

The Frenchman headed a now-customary team 1-2-3 in both phases of qualifying, meaning that he will start from pole position for the first race, but tenth position for the second 13-lap event.

With both of today’s practice sessions having been rain-affected, the first phase of qualifying saw drivers greeted with a steadily drying track, only to be hit by a sudden short downpour just as the first 20-minute session got underway.

Typically the quicker drivers try to run at the bottom half of the top-ten on the timesheets to give themselves a good qualifying spot for Race 2, but the times kept changing so quickly as the conditions improved that all the usual tactics went straight out the window: it was simply a case of getting into the top-ten shootout.

One the lap times had sorted themselves out, Tom Coronel had been listed as tenth-fastest in the opening session, which will give the Dutchman pole for Race 2. He starts alongside SEAT driver Michel Nykjær, and then Javier Villa, Tiago Monteiro, Franz Engstler, Colin Turkington and Darryl O’Young.

The conditions saw some surprise eliminations at the end of the opening session, with Gabriele Tarquini (11th), Norbert Michelisz (18th) and Robert Dahlgren (19th) all failing to make the Q2 cut.

The three RML Chevrolets repeated the feat in the second phase of qualifying, with Muller’s late effort snatching pole from local hero Robert Huff. His compatriot, WTCC returnee Colin Turkington, qualified an impressive fifth on his one-off return to the series, a result that was all the more remarkable given he’d never driven a turbo BMW until yesterday morning.

Monteiro finished fourth-fastest and the quickest SEAT runner, while behind Turkington the top ten was completed by O’Young, Engstler, Coronel, Villa (who takes a five-place grid drop for a penalty stemming from the last round at Portugal) and Nykjær.

 

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

Driver Team Time
1. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:38.470 (Q2)
2. Robert Huff GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:38.551 (Q2)
3. Alain Menu SUI RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:38.794 (Q2)
4. Tiago Monteiro POR SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:39.167 (Q2)
5. Colin Turkington GBR Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW 1:39.332 (Q2)
6. Darryl O’Young HKG Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:39.471 (Q2)
7. Franz Engstler DEU Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 1:39.686 (Q2)
8. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 1:39.966 (Q2)
9. Michel Nykjær DEN SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:40.152 (Q2)
10. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Lukoil-SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:41.450  
11. Kristian Poulsen DEN Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 1:41.530  
12. Fredy Barth SUI Swiss SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:41.557
13. Pepe Oriola ESP SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:41.590  
14. Javier Villa García* ESP Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW 1:40.047 (Q2)
15. Mehdi Bennani MOR Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW 1:42.179  
16. Yukinori Taniguchi JPN Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:42.576  
17. Aleksei Dudukalo RUS Lukoil-SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:42.871  
18. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ-Dension Team BMW 320TC BMW 1:45.720  
  OUTSIDE 107%       2:15.244  
19. Robert Dahlgren SWE Polestar Volvo C30 Volvo 1:48.569  
20. Fabio Fabiani ITA Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si BMW 1:55.478  

Top-10 starting order determined via a separate top-ten single-lap qualifying session. * Denotes 5-place grid penalty

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

Driver Team Time
1. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 1:41.431
2. Michel Nykjær DEN SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:41.392
3. Javier Villa García ESP Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW 1:41.221
4. Tiago Monteiro POR SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:41.214
5. Franz Engstler DEU Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 1:40.995
6. Colin Turkington GBR Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW 1:40.965
7. Darryl O’Young HKG Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:40.895
8. Alain Menu SUI RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:40.838
9. Robert Huff GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:40.526
10. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:40.422
11. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Lukoil-SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:41.450
12. Kristian Poulsen DEN Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 1:41.530
13. Fredy Barth SUI Swiss SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:41.557
14. Pepe Oriola ESP SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:41.590
15. Mehdi Bennani MOR Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW 1:42.179
16. Yukinori Taniguchi JPN Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:42.576
17. Aleksei Dudukalo RUS Lukoil-SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:42.871
18. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ-Dension Team BMW 320TC BMW 1:45.720
  OUTSIDE 107%       1:47.451
19. Robert Dahlgren SWE Polestar Volvo C30 Volvo 1:48.569
20. Fabio Fabiani ITA Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si BMW 1:55.478

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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