Yvan Muller is on pole for the opening race at Valencia

Having been quickest in today’s two practice sessions, Chevrolet driver Yvan Muller has continued the rout in this weekend’s World Touring car Championship round at Valencia by claiming pole position in the afternoon’s qualifying session.

The defending champion broke the lap record en route to claiming pole by a comfortable margin. He shares the front row with his main championship rival and team-mate Robert Huff, although the Briton was almost half-a-second adrift.

SUNRED driver Gabriele Tarquini had looked to break Chevrolet’s front-row stranglehold by posting the fastest time in the first phase of qualifying on the team’s home circuit, but he had to settle for third-fastest in Q2, lapping just fractionally off Huff’s pace. He starts alongside team-mate Tiago Monteiro, who won the second race at the same event last year.

The third row is occupied by Tom Coronel – fastest of the four BMWs that made it into Q2 – and Alain Menu, with the Swiss driver needing a miracle to remain in the championship hunt after being unable to demonstrate the correct pace from his Chevrolet in either phase of qualifying. He was too speedy in Q1 – which means he starts ninth in Race 2’s semi-reversed grid – and too slow in Q2…

It’s an all-BMW fourth row for Race 1, with Norbert Michelisz lining up ahead of local hero Javier Villa as the BMW duo head the battle for the Independent Trophy standings, while the top-ten is rounded out by fellow independents Franz Engstler and Michel Nykjær.

With the top ten on the grid in Race 2 being determined by reversing the classification of the ten fastest drivers in Q1, Franz Engstler starts from prime position once again, no doubt hoping he can possibly repeat his second race heroics from a month ago at Oschersleben, where he claimed his long-awaited maiden WTCC win.

He shares the front row with Tom Coronel, while Nykjær and Garcia complete the second row.

Muller is the lead championship contender in fifth place – two spots ahead of Huff – while Monteiro splits the Chevrolets in sixth. The top ten is completed by Michelisz, Menu and Tarquini.

Spanish teen sensation Pepe Oriola was unlucky to miss a berth into Q2 with the 11th-fastest effort in Q1, while WTCC debutant David Sigacev qualified a creditable 140th.

Stefano D’Aste and Robert Dahlgren both disappointed in their more fancied entries, only qualifying 16th and 17th fastest. Dahlgren suffered from a lack of practice mileage courtesy of a spin in the opening practice session.

D'Aste and Dahlgren both struggled in qualifying It’s also been a difficult day for the Proteam squad, with Mehdi Bennani failing to post a lap time following an off in second practice, while Fabio Fabiani yet again qualified outside the 107% threshold. The Italian suffered a sizeable high-speed accident at Turn 1 in the second practice session, comprehensively destroying his normally-aspirated BMW against the barriers.

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

Driver Team Time
1. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:42.649 (Q2)
2. Robert Huff GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:43.105 (Q2)
3. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Lukoil-SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:43.182 (Q2)
4. Tiago Monteiro POR SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:43.269 (Q2)
5. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 1:43.367 (Q2)
6. Alain Menu SUI RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:43.387 (Q2)
7. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ-Dension Team BMW 320TC BMW 1:43.731 (Q2)
8. Javier Villa García ESP Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW 1:43.759 (Q2)
9. Franz Engstler DEU Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 1:44.077 (Q2)
10. Michel Nykjær DEN SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:44.836 (Q2)
11. Pepe Oriola ESP SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:44.614  
12. Kristian Poulsen DEN Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 1:44.734  
13. Darryl O’Young HKG Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:44.741  
14. David Sigacev RUS DeTeam KK BMW 320TC BMW 1:44.768  
15. Fredy Barth SUI Swiss SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:44.849  
16. Stefano D’Aste ITA Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW 1:44.905  
17. Robert Dahlgren SWE Polestar Volvo C30 ‘Drive’ Volvo 1:45.082  
18. Yukinori Taniguchi JPN Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:45.096  
19. Aleksei Dudukalo RUS Lukoil-SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:45.113  
             
  OUTSIDE 107%       1:51.180  
Fabio Fabiani ITA Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si BMW 2:04.283  
Mehdi Bennani MOR Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW no time  

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 Spain Q1 Session Times (Race 2 Grid):

Driver Team Time
1. Franz Engstler DEU Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 1:44.577
2. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 1:44.565
3. Michel Nykjær DEN SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:44.461
4. Javier Villa García ESP Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW 1:44.395
5. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:44.155
6. Tiago Monteiro POR SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:44.086
7. Robert Huff GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:44.060
8. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ-Dension Team BMW 320TC BMW 1:44.047
9. Alain Menu SUI RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:43.992
10. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Lukoil-SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:43.907
11. Pepe Oriola ESP SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:44.614
12. Kristian Poulsen DEN Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 1:44.734
13. Darryl O’Young HKG Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:44.741
14. David Sigacev RUS DeTeam KK BMW 320TC BMW 1:44.768
15. Fredy Barth SUI Swiss SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:44.849
16. Stefano D’Aste ITA Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW 1:44.905
17. Robert Dahlgren SWE Polestar Volvo C30 ‘Drive’ Volvo 1:45.082
18. Yukinori Taniguchi JPN Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:45.096
19. Aleksei Dudukalo RUS Lukoil-SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:45.113
           
  OUTSIDE 107%       1:51.180
Fabio Fabiani ITA Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si BMW 2:04.283
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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