Defending World Touring Car champion Gabriele Tarquini has taken an all-important pole position for SEAT on their Spanish home soil ahead of Sunday’s double-race header at the Ricardo Tomo circuit.
Tarquini defied popular expectation that Chevrolet would take a 1-2-3 sweep in qualifying with a blistering early lap in the second phase of qualifying to hold out in the challenge against the blue Cruzes.
Robert Huff joins Tarquini on the front row of the grid, with the other Chevrolets of Yvan Muller and Alain Menu right behind them on the second row.
The third row will be headed by the next-quickest SEAT of Tiago Monteiro, who qualified just quicker than team-mate Tom Coronel.
Despite the Dutch driver posting the sixth-quickest overall, he will take a ten-place grid penalty into the opening race by dint of an engine change this weekend. Instead, this promoted Spanish favourite Jordi Gené onto the third row, ahead of Fredy Barth, who posted the fastest time overall in Q1.
Curiously, the works BMWs continued their poor pace into qualifying proper, and lined up slowest of all in Q2, with Andy Priaulx only scraping into Q2 by 0.026 seconds over Michel Nykjær.
Norbert Michelisz could be another driver who may have to face a ten-place grid drop, with his engine letting go in the final minutes of Q1, and ensuring that he wouldn’t be a part of proceedings in Q2.
The Independent Trophy runners occupied the slowest eight positions in Q1, but it was Marc Carol who carried some local pride by proving quickest of all the regular runners. The Valencia-born driver qualified 14th-quickest for Sunday’s rolling start race.
FIA 2010 WTCC Valencia Qualifying Results:
* Denotes 10-place grid penalty for an engine change.
[Original image via FIA WTCC official site]