Defending WTCC champion Gabriele Tarquini has continued SEAT’s remarkable dominance of the Marrakech Tarquini Polesecond round of the 2010 season by topping the timesheets in qualifying to determine the grid for the event’s opening race on Sunday.

With its front-wheel drive turbo diesel power not initially expected to perform as strongly on the stop-start street circuit at Marrakech, the Spanish marque has shown a remarkable turn of speed to head all test and practice sessions this weekend.

Tarquini’s pole position was all but assured when his closest rival for the top spot in Q2, Michel Nykjær, crashed out at the final chicane to bring the second part of qualifying to a close.

The Italian’s other rival for pole, Norbert Michelisz, crashed at the end of Q1 after taking the quickest time in that session. The Hungarian will be kicking himself for throwing away pole position by stuffing it into the wall.

The front row will be shared with Robert Huff, who posted his quickest time of the weekend so far only moments before Nykjær’s accident.

It’s an all SEAT second row, occupied by Jordi Gené and Tiago Monteiro, who line up ahead of Yvan Muller, Michel Nykjær, Tom Coronel and Fredy Barth.

Two surprises were very much in evidence in qualifying: only one BMW made it through to Q2, and that BMW happened to belong to an Independent runner: Franz Engstler! The German continued his sensational weekend form and trumped the manufacturer pairing of Andy Priaulx and Augusto Farfus, who appear unable to get their cars working properly this weekend.

FIA 2010 WTCC Round 2 Marrakech Qualifying Results:

  Driver Car Q1 Time Q2 Time
1. Gabriele Tarquini SEAT León TDI 1:46.626 1:45.830
2. Robert Huff Chevrolet Cruze LT 1:46.662 1:46.364
3. Jordi Gené SEAT León TDI 1:46.675 1:46.375
4. Tiago Monteiro SEAT León TDI 1:47.601 1:46.696
5. Yvan Muller FRA Chevrolet Cruze LT 1:46.891 1:46.705
6. Michel Nykjær DEN SEAT León TDI 1:46.942 1:46.751
7. Tom Coronel NED SEAT León TDI 1:47.139 1:47.044
8. Fredy Barth Sui SEAT León TDI 1:46.899 1:48.027
9. Franz Engstler (I) BMW 320si 1:47.541 1:48.994
10. Norbert Michelisz HUN SEAT León TDI 1:46.437 no time
11. Augusto Farfus BMW 320si 1:47.616  
12. Andy Priaulx BMW 320si 1:47.752  
13. Alain Menu Sui Chevrolet Cruze LT 1:47.761  
14. Stefano D’Aste (I) BMW 320si 1:48.252  
15. Sergio Hernández (I) BMW 320si 1:48.556  
16. Mehdi Bennani (I)   BMW 320si 1:48.854  
17. Harry Vaulkhard (I) Chevrolet Lacetti 1:49.028  
18. Darryl O’Young (I) Chevrolet Lacetti 1:49.313  
19. Andrey Romanov (I) BMW 320si 1:51.014  
20. Ismail Sbaï (I) Chevrolet Lacetti 1:53.195  

[Original images via FIA WTCC official site]

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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.