Norbert Michelisz has secured his maiden WTCC pole

Norbert Michelisz has won his first ever World Touring Car Championship pole position with a shock qualifying performance at the series’ first ever visit to the Slovakia Ring. It being an unusual qualifying session, Aleksei Dudukalo will start alongside him on the front row with his career-best qualifying result.

Saturday’s two practice sessions had been a major learning exercise for all runners, who had just one hour of track time before qualifying began on a hot Saturday afternoon at the technical circuit.

With a number of his Hungarian fans having made the short trip over the border, Michelisz proceeded to delight them with a stellar qualifying effort in his Zengõ Motorsport BMW, gaining a useful slipstream from Yvan Muller on his final flying lap to go quickest.

With Dudukalo in second, his Lukoil Racing team-mate Gabriele Tarquini might find himself regretting the helping hand he gave his Russian team-mate by showing him the racing line, having been out-qualified. The former F1 driver will start from third place.

Aleksei Dudukalo and Gabriele Tarquini Tiago Monteiro and Pepe Oriola
Some famous SEAT teamwork saw four of its cars make the second phase of qualifying

In another encouraging performance by the new Arena Motorsports Ford team, both James Nash and Tom Chilton (who had next to no practice running) made the top-twelve shootout for pole as the team’s Ford Forcus S2000 cars found improved pace with a revised suspension layout.

Nash’s fourth-placed effort turned sour when scrutineers deemed his car to be running at too-low a ride height, earning him a ten-place grid penalty. Nash’s loss is Chilton’s gain, with the youngster being promoted to a Race 2 pole position, by dint of the top-ten qualifiers having their grid positions reversed for Sunday’s second race.

Tiago Monteiro will now start from the second row of the opening race in his older-spec SUNRED León, an impressive performance given the clear power deficit he suffers to those around him. The Portuguese driver was helped by a slipstream given to him by team-mate Pepe Oriola, who qualified eighth-fastest.

Reigning champion and points leader Yvan Muller heads an all-Chevrolet third row alongside Robert Huff – third driver Alain Menu is two spots behind Huff – with the works team at a loss to explain their worst qualifying performance in almost two years.

The Chevrolets qualified down the order Tom Coronel failed to make the Q2 cut
It was a tough qualifying session for all three works Chevrolet runners and Tom Coronel, who failed to make it into Q2

Stefano D’Aste and Alberto Cerqui both scraped into the second phase of qualifying, courtesy of a red flag brought out in the closing seconds of the first qualifying session, at the precise point when several faster runners were on their last flying laps.

The timing of the red flag was disastrous for Tom Coronel in particular, with the Dutchman failing to make the Q2 cut for the first time this season. Adding to the ROAL Motorsport driver’s frustrations, he was also issued with a mechanical black flag in the session when his left-rear door flew open and was furious with event organisers for shuffling around the position of teams’ pit garages, which he felt gave him a distinct disadvantage:

2012 FIA WTCC Race of Slovakia Q1 & Q2 Session Times:

Driver Team Q2 Time YIT
1. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 2:12.990 Y
2. Aleksei Dudukalo RUS Lukoil Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT 2:13.076 Y
3. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Lukoil Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT 2:13.137  
4. James Nash* GBR Team Aon Ford Focus S2000 TC Ford 2:13.317 Y
5. Tiago Monteiro POR Tuenti Racing SR León 1.6T Sunred 2:13.322  
6. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 2:13.366  
7. Robert Huff GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 2:13.575  
8. Pepe Oriola ESP Tuenti Racing Team SEAT León WTCC SEAT 2:13.684 Y
9. Alain Menu SUI RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 2:13.721  
10. Stefano D’Aste ITA Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW 2:14.668 Y
11. Tom Chilton GBR Team Aon Ford Focus S2000 TC Ford 2:14.762  
12. Alberto Cerqui ITA ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 2:15.288 Y
  Q2 CUT-OFF: 2:14.447 Q1 Time  
13. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 2:14.490  
14. Franz Engstler DEU Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 2:14.676 Y
15. Mehdi Bennani* MOR Proteam Racing BMW 320TC BMW 2:14.823 Y
16. Darryl O’Young HKG Special Tune Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT 2:14.856 Y
17. Alex MacDowell GBR Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 2:15.039 Y
18. Pasquale di Sabatino ITA Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 2:15.756 Y
19. Charles Ka-Ki Ng HKG Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 2:16.129 Y
20. Gábor Wéber HUN Zengõ Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 2:16.536 Y
  OUTSIDE 107%    
NQ. Tom Boardman GBR Special Tune Racing SEAT León TDi SEAT no time Y

* James Nash received a 10-place grid penalty after his car was found not to conform to the minimum ride height requirements in post-qualifying scrutineering. Mehdi Bennani will also be demoted to the back of the grid for changing his engine.

The starting order for Race 1 is determined by the qualifying results indicated above, unless states otherwise. The ten-fastest drivers – as indicated by their Q2 fastest times – start in reverse starting order for Race 2, unless stated otherwise. (‘Y’ denotes Yokohama Independent Trophy entered driver).

Sunday will see the field participate in two ten-lap races, with the first kicking off at 2:20pm local time (GMT+2).

Check out the ultimate Bathurst 1000 package!

The following two tabs change content below.

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.