Defending series champion Yvan Muller has led another Chevrolet clean sweep in qualifying, with the Frenchman eclipsing the Hungaroring’s qualifying lap to claim pole position for the first of tomorrow’s two World Touring Car Championship races.
With Muller and team-mate Robert Huff having set the pace in the first phase of qualifying, the pair repeated the effort in the second stint to claim a provisional 1-2 on the grid.
Despite having been the quickest driver in today’s second practice session, SEAT’s Gabriele Tarquini was unable to mount a serious challenge for pole position, and had to settle for third place until Alain Menu’s last-minute lap bumped him down to fourth, giving Chevrolet a 1-2-3 in qualifying.
The first phase of qualifying was closely fought with little more than a second covering the top twenty drivers on the timesheets. As much as it was a surprise, it was also no surprise that this would mean a few more-favoured drivers would fail to secure one of the top twelve positions needed to make Q2.
Having made that cut-off just a week before in Slovakia, Alberto Cerqui, Stefano D’Aste, Aleksei Dudukalo, Tom Coronel and Tom Chilton all fell short of the required lap-time, meaning they will start in the bottom half of the grid for both races tomorrow.
Mehdi Bennani recorded the best qualifying result of his 2012 season in the sole Proteam BMW entry, with the Moroccan pipping local hero Norbert Michelisz to fifth spot and the honour of the fastest Independent Trophy driver.
The top-ten was rounded out by Tiago Monteiro, Darryl O’Young, Pepe Oriola and Franz Engstler, who will occupy the first four places in Sunday’s second race, which sees the grid positions of the fastest ten qualifiers reversed.
A special mention must also go to James Thompson, who – despite being forced to stop in the opening phase of qualifying – still managed to qualify his brand-new LADA Granta sixteenth-fastest on the Russian carmaker’s return to the championship.
2012 FIA WTCC Race of Hungary Q1 & Q2 Session Times:
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).