José María López has claimed an all-important pole position for the opening World Touring Car Championship race at the Shanghai International Circuit. The Argentine driver and championship leader led a Citroën 1-2-3 on the timesheets, with local driver Ma Qing Hua separating López from his sole title rival, Yvan Muller.

The opening qualifying segment saw Ma lead the way from the sister Citroëns of Muller, López and Sébastien Loeb. Beijing Race 1 winner Tom Chilton headed the ‘best of the rest’ charge in his ROAL RML Chevrolet, ahead of the three Honda Civics of Gabriele Tarquini, Norbert Michelisz and Tiago Monteiro.

The second ROAL Chevrolet of Tom Coronel made into the top twelve, along with Mehdi Bennani’s Honda and the Campos Racing Chevrolets of Dušan Borković and Hugo Valente.

Beijing race 2 Rob Huff threw everything but the kitchen sink in his final flying lap in his LADA, but the Englishman was among a trio of drivers – along with Gianni Morbidelli and James Thompson – who narrowly failed to make the Q2 cut.

There was drama in Q2 when Coronel was unable to make his final run after being called in by the scrutineers for a weighbridge check. The Dutchman was narrowly holding off Bennani’s Honda for the all-important tenth place on the timesheets, which would have given him pole position for Race 2. As it was, Bennani managed to get another lap in and lowered his benchmark by five-hundredths of a second to edge out his rival and claim the spot.

The mini-session was once again dominated by the Citroëns, which had all four cars ease into the top-five one-lap shootout for pole. The sole non-Citroën was Michelisz’s Honda, leaving fellow Civic runners Monteiro and Tarquini to claim sixth and seventh ahead of Chilton and Hugo Valente.

The final shootout saw López claim another pole position, just holding out Ma by 0.1 seconds; Muller claimed third-fastest by was a further half-second behind. Michesliz did well to split Muller and Loeb and claim fourth, with the latter having a scrappy lap which included clipping the tyre bundle placed at the last corner.

López’s pole position gave him another two championship points, easing him to a 68-point buffer over Muller with a further 50-point maximum haul on offer if he wins both of Sunday’s races – the first of which kicks off at 15:00 local time (GMT +8).


2014 FIA WTCC Race of Shanghai – Final Qualifying:

Q3 Qualifiers Team Time Class
1. José María López Total Citroën Racing C-Elysée Citroen 1:48.782 TC1
2. Ma Qing Hua Total Citroën Racing C-Elysée Citroen 1:48.898 TC1
3. Yvan Muller Total Citroën Racing C-Elysée Citroen 1:49.424 TC1
4. Norbert Michelisz Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC Honda 1:49.681 TC1
5. Sébastien Loeb Total Citroën Racing C-Elysée Citroen 1:49.830 TC1
Q2 Qualifiers Team Time Class
6. Tiago Monteiro Castrol Honda Racing Team Civic WTCC Honda 1:50.178 TC1
7. Gabriele Tarquini Castrol Honda Racing Team Civic WTCC Honda 1:50.229 TC1
8. Tom Chilton ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet 1:50.351 TC1
9. Hugo Valente Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet 1:50.406 TC1
10. Mehdi Bennani Proteam Racing Honda Civic WTCC Honda 1:50.528 TC1
11. Tom Coronel nl ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet 1:50.548 TC1
12. Dušan Borković Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet 1:51.665 TC1
Q1 Qualifiers Team Time Class
13. Gianni Morbidelli Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet 1:51.655 TC1
14. James Thompson LADA Sport Granta Sport 1.6T LADA 1:51.662 TC1
15. Rob Huff LADA Sport Granta Sport 1.6T LADA 1:51.781 TC1
16. Mikhail Kozlovskiy LADA Sport Granta Sport 1.6T LADA 1:51.953 TC1
17. René Münnich Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet 1:52.393 TC1
18. Franz Engstler Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW E90 320TC BMW 1:55.315 TC2
19. John Filippi Campos Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT
1:56.753 TC2
20. William Lok Campos Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT
1:58.664 TC2
21. Felipe de Souza Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW E90 320TC BMW 1:58.719 TC2

Image 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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