Citroën Total WTCC’s José María López is aiming to close out his incredible rookie season in the World Touring Car Championship in style by claiming his seventh pole position of 2014 at the season-ending Macau Guia Race.

The Argentine – having his first outing on what is undoubtedly the toughest street circuit in the world – gave another classy display to lead a Citroën 1-2-3 ahead of Sébastien Loeb and Yvan Muller. Norbert Michelisz led the ‘best of the rest’ charge in his Honda, while Tom Coronel rounded out the top-five in his Chevrolet.

The opening qualifying session was red-flagged barely two minutes in when Pepe Oriola crashed for the second time today, pinballing his Campos Chevrolet into the barriers at Maternity Bend. The Spanish driver – making his only outing of the season as he hopes to fund a full-time return to the series – blocked the circuit, forcing the session to be suspended before anyone had posted a timed lap.

One Oriola’s car was craned away, the session resumed and it was Muller who moved to the top of the timesheets before being eclipsed by Loeb’s Citroën C-Elysée. After aborting his first run, López slotted into second-fastest to ensure all three full-time Citroëns were safely into Q2. Despite a wild slide through the esses, Ma Qing Hua managed to get the fourth #33 Citroën through as well.

Late runs from Gianni Morbidelli and Tom Chilton proved enough to knock Mehdi Bennani’s Honda and James Thompson’s LADA out of the top-ten, and their fate was sealed when Q1 was red-flagged when Mikhail Kozlovskiy spun his LADA at Lisboa and blocked the track with two minutes to go. With not enough time for anyone to go out and try for another lap, the session was brought to an early close.

As ever, the second stage of qualifying provided a fascinating dual narrative: who would secure a top-five timesheet berth for the Q3 one-lap shootout, and who could secure the tenth-fastest time that would give them an all-important pole position for Sunday’s second race?

López popped out a time of 2:24.539 to go fastest from Loeb and Muller; Loeb temporarily lowered the benchmark only for López to snatch back top spot.

The fourth Citroën of Ma Qing Hua looked on course for the reverse grid pole until a late effort from Tarquini was enough to bundle him out of tenth place. As a result, Hugo Valente secured tenth, and he will share the front row of the grid with ninth-fastest Tom Chilton’s ROAL Chevrolet. Six-time Macau winner Rob Huff was eighth-fastest.

Michelisz and a delighted Coronel joined the lead Citroën trio in Q3. Michelisz was out first in his Honda, clocking a 2:25.327 – Coronel looked on course to better the effort, only to slap the wall going up the hill and damage his left-front suspension. The Dutchman abandoned his timed lap and peeled into the pits.

Muller was next up and claimed provisional pole position with a 2:24.779 – his fastest lap of the weekend – before Loeb bettered the effort thanks to a rapid first sector split.

López was last out and once again thrashed all comers with a new lap record, a 2:24.294 to go two-tenths quicker than Loeb and secure the seventh pole position of his season.

With Saturday functioning as a ‘rest’ day while the Formula 3 Grand Prix runners get down to business, the next on-track action for the touring cars is the first 10-lap race that kicks off at 11:15 local time (GMT +8), with Race 2 following shortly after at 12:30.


2014 FIA WTCC Guia Race of Macau – Final Qualifying:

Q3 Qualifiers Team Time Class
1. José María López Total Citroën Racing C-Elysée Citroen 2:24.294 TC1
2. Sébastien Loeb Total Citroën Racing C-Elysée Citroen 2:24.522 TC1
3. Yvan Muller Total Citroën Racing C-Elysée Citroen 2:24.779 TC1
4. Norbert Michelisz Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC Honda 2:25.327 TC1
5. Tom Coronel nl ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet no time TC1
Q2 Qualifiers Team Time Class
6. Gabriele Tarquini Castrol Honda Racing Team Civic WTCC Honda 2:25.769 TC1
7. Tiago Monteiro Castrol Honda Racing Team Civic WTCC Honda 2:25.825 TC1
8. Rob Huff LADA Sport Granta Sport 1.6T LADA 2:25.866 TC1
9. Tom Chilton ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet 2:26.187 TC1
10. Hugo Valente Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet 2:26.204 TC1
11. Ma Qing Hua Total Citroën Racing C-Elysée Citroen 2:26.535 TC1
12. Gianni Morbidelli Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet 2:26.911 TC1
Q1 Qualifiers Team Time Class
13. Mehdi Bennani Proteam Racing Honda Civic WTCC Honda 2:27.630 TC1
14. James Thompson LADA Sport Granta Sport 1.6T LADA 2:27.667 TC1
15. Mikhail Kozlovskiy LADA Sport Granta Sport 1.6T LADA 2:28.602 TC1
16. Franz Engstler Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW E90 320TC BMW 2:34.015 TC2
17. John Filippi Campos Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT 2:35.656 TC2
18. Felipe de Souza Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW E90 320TC BMW 2:38.204 TC2
19. Mak Ka Lok Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW E90 320TC BMW 2:41.086 TC2
Outside 107% Team Time Class
DNQ. René Münnich Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet 2:37.287 TC1
DNQ. William Lok Campos Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT 2:45.059 TC2
DNQ. Henry Kwong Campos Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT 2:45.110 TC2
DNQ. Pepe Oriola Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet no time TC1

Image via Christian Hartung / RichardsF1.com

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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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