Alain Menu has secured pole position for this weekend's WTCC round at Shanghai

Alain Menu has continued his strong end-of-season form by claiming pole position for this weekend’s penultimate round of the World Touring Car Championship at the Shanghai International Circuit.

After being quickest in the opening phase of qualifying today, the Swiss driver topped the top-twelve pole shootout in Q2 to beat Chevrolet team-mate and championship leader Yvan Muller by just 0.026 seconds.

Chevrolet had looked set to claim a lockout of the first two rows of the grid for tomorrow’s opening race, only for Norbert Michelisz to insert his BMW into third place, ahead of Robert Huff and Colin Turkington – making a one-off outing in a Cruze run by West Surrey Racing.

The result represents an excellent turnaround for the Hungarian, who had a shocking round last time out at Suzuka which saw his lead in the Independent Trophy standings dramatically trimmed.

Huff’s fourth-placed result gives him more work to do in his quest to claim the championship points lead from Muller, with whom he shared the championship lead heading into this weekend’s maiden visit to the Shanghai International Circuit.

Suzuka’s Race 2 winner Stefano D’Aste finished up sixth-fastest in his BMW, while Pepe Oriola claimed seventh-quickest and the unusual honour of being the fastest SEAT runner – a title usually bestowed to Gabriele Tarquini, who could only manage ninth-fastest.

Tom Coronel finished the session tenth-fastest to secure pole position for the reverse-grid Race 2, with the Dutchman hoping that he’ll be able to make one of his customary lightning getaways to skip into an early lead and secure his first win of the season.

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

Driver Team Q2 Time YIT
1. Alain Menu SUI RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:54.383  
2. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:54.409  
3. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 1:54.523 Y
4. Robert Huff GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:54.582  
5. Colin Turkington GBR WSR Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:54.777  
6. Stefano D’Aste ITA Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW 1:55.142 Y
7. Pepe Oriola ESP Tuenti Racing Team SEAT León WTCC SEAT 1:55.325 Y
8. Alex MacDowell GBR Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:55.378 Y
9. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Lukoil Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT 1:55.451  
10. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 1:55.720  
11. Aleksei Dudukalo RUS Lukoil Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT 1:55.840 Y
12. Fredy Barth SUI Swiss Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT 1:56.296 Y
  Q2 CUT-OFF: 1:55.586 Q1 Time  
13. Mehdi Bennani MOR Proteam Racing BMW 320TC BMW 1:55.616 Y
14. Darryl O’Young HKG Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:55.637 Y
15. James Nash GBR Team Aon Ford Focus S2000 TC Ford 1:55.658  
16. Fernando Monje ESP SUNRED Engineering SEAT León WTCC SEAT 1:55.734 Y
17. Tiago Monteiro POR JAS Honda Civic S2000 TC Honda 1:55.742  
18. Charles Ka-Ki Ng HKG Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 1:55.851 Y
19. Alberto Cerqui ITA ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 1:55.973 Y
20. Tom Boardman GBR Special Tune Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT 1:56.012 Y
21. Franz Engstler DEU Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 1:56.577 Y
22. Tom Chilton GBR Team Aon Ford Focus S2000 TC Ford 1:56.904  
23. Hugo Valente FRA Tuenti Racing SR León 1.6T Sunred 1:57.947 Y
24. Eric Kwong HKG Look Fong Racing Chevrolet Cruze LT Chevrolet 1:59.352 Y
25. Kelvin Leong MCU Song Veng Honda Accord Euro R Honda 2:00.864 Y
26. Kin Veng Ng MCU China Dragon Chevrolet Lacetti Chevrolet 2:00.969 Y
27. Filipe de Souza MCU China Dragon Chevrolet Lacetti Chevrolet 2:01.059 Y
  107% CUT-OFF: 2:04.374 Q1 Time  
NQ. Alex Liu Lic Ka MCU Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320si BMW 55.013 Y

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).

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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.