José María López has won his second pole position of the 2014 World Touring Car Championship season, leading yet another 1-2-3 for Citroën Racing in a dramatic qualifying session at the Slovakia Ring. Sébastien Loeb and Yvan Muller will start Race 1 from second and third places, respectively.
With the Citroëns having dominated practice so far, it was a great surprise to see Zengõ Motorsport driver Norbert Michelisz’s Honda fastest in the opening qualifying session. Reigning champion Muller was second-fastest, with Tom Coronel putting his ROAL Chevrolet in third.
The same fortune would not befall Michelisz’s fellow Honda privateer, Mehdi Bennani. The Moroccan’s appalling luck plagued him yet again, with his Proteam Honda suffering a turbo problem and unable to post a lap time.
His absence left the LADA team with its first real chance of getting into Q2, although it too was one car down after Mikhail Kozlovskiy was also unable to set a time when his Granta was hit with more mechanical maladies. Nonetheless, Rob Huff came through to pip René Münnich for the twelfth and final spot.
The second phase of qualifying started in dramatic fashion when Gabriele Tarquini’s bonnet flew open, causing teammate Tiago Monteiro and Huff to take avoiding action. The works Honda driver was completely unsighted but managed to bring his car to a halt while the red flags were unfurled.
The time left meant that all of the Q2 runners only had the opportunity for one flying lap. López went quickest of all ahead of Michelisz and Loeb, while Tarquini took his repaired Civic eighth-fastest and Monteiro managed to tenth to give himself pole position for Race 2.
Also through to Q3 were Muller in the third Citroën, while Hungary race-winner Gianni Morbidelli also made the top-five.
The final phase’s one-lap shootouts saw Morbidelli post a competitive time, although he was ultimately slowest of the five as Muller, Loeb, Michelisz and then López – who became the first driver to break into the 2m03s barrier – bettered his effort.
Sunday’s first race takes place at 1:15pm local time (GMT +2), with Race 2 getting underway at 5:45pm.
2014 FIA WTCC Race of Slovakia – Final Qualifying:
|1.||José María López||Total Citroën Racing C-Elysée||2:03.912||TC1|
|2.||Sébastien Loeb||Total Citroën Racing C-Elysée||+ 0.372||TC1|
|3.||Yvan Muller||Total Citroën Racing C-Elysée||+ 0.629||TC1|
|4.||Norbert Michelisz||Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC||+ 0.991||TC1|
|5.||Gianni Morbidelli||Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze||+ 1.019||TC1|
|6.||Tom Chilton||ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze||2:04.870||TC1|
|7.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze||2:04.988||TC1|
|8.||Gabriele Tarquini||Castrol Honda Racing Team Civic WTCC||2:05.363||TC1|
|9.||Hugo Valente||Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze||2:05.429||TC1|
|10.||Tiago Monteiro||Castrol Honda Racing Team Civic WTCC||2:05.772||TC1|
|11.||Dušan Borković||Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze||2:06.835||TC1|
|12.||Rob Huff||LADA Sport Lukoil Granta Sport 1.6T||2:07.002||TC1|
|13.||René Münnich||Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze||2:06.625||TC1|
|14.||James Thompson||LADA Sport Lukoil Granta Sport 1.6T||2:07.718||TC1|
|15.||Franz Engstler||Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW E90 320TC||2:12.390||TC2|
|16.||Pasquale di Sabatino||Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW E90 320TC||2:13.381||TC2|
|17.||Petr Fulín||Campos Racing SEAT León WTCC||2:13.508||TC2|
|18.||John Filippi||Campos Racing SEAT León WTCC||2:13.786||TC2|
|DNQ.||Mikhail Kozlovskiy||LADA Sport Lukoil Granta Sport 1.6T||no time||TC1|
|DNQ.||Mehdi Bennani||Proteam Racing Honda Civic WTCC||no time||TC1|
Images via FIA WTCC Media