Aspiring FIA World Touring Car champion Rob Huff has claimed an all-important pole position for Sunday’s traditional curtain-closer on the streets of Macau.
The Englishman broke the circuit’s qualifying lap record in the process, and will start Race 1 alongside team-mate and championship outsider Yvan Muller.
It was little surprise that the pace-setting Chevrolet trio made it through to Q2, and also that Tiago Monteiro managed the same in his ballast-reduced works Honda Civic S2000. The Portuguese driver had regularly featured at the sharp end of the timesheets during Thursday’s test session and Friday’s two practice sessions.
The first phase of qualifying was brought to a temporary halt when Fredy Barth crashed his SEAT at Police Bend, badly damaging the front of his León, but fortunately without causing himself any injuries.
The field tried to improve on their lap times when the session resumed, but with traffic so heavy around the circuit, none was able to do so.
This left a frustrated Tom Coronel having to sit on the sidelines once again in Q2, joining the two AON Ford entries of James Nash and Tom Chilton as the only two non-independent regular drivers who would have an early bath.
The second phase of qualifying saw Huff immediately set his record-breaking, and ultimately untouchable, benchmark lap, which gave him an extra five championship points in his pocket to extend his championship lead to 37 points over Alain Menu (who qualified third-fastest) and 42 points over Yvan Muller.
The Italian veteran just edged out his 2013 Honda team-mate Tiago Monteiro, who took the little Civic S2000 to the giddy heights of fifth place on the grid. Given it is just the third race weekend with the new car, this was all the more impressive and it bodes well for next year’s championship.
Sixth-fastest went to Darryl O’Young, who claimed the Independent Trophy pole position honours in is Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet, one spot ahead of class leader Norbert Michelisz, who will be battling for title honours with Pepe Oriola and Stefano D’Aste this weekend.
O’Young’s team-mate Alex MacDowall qualified tenth-fastest, and earns pole position for Sunday’s second nine-lap race.
2012 FIA WTCC Guia Race of Macau Q1 & Q2 Session Times:
|1.||Robert Huff||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||2:29.422|
|2.||Yvan Muller||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||2:30.144|
|3.||Alain Menu||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||2:30.488|
|4.||Gabriele Tarquini||Lukoil Racing SEAT León WTCC||2:30.936|
|5.||Tiago Monteiro||JAS Honda Civic S2000 TC||2:31.539|
|6.||Darryl O’Young||Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||2:31.643||Y|
|7.||Norbert Michelisz||Zengõ Motorsport BMW 320TC||2:31.670||Y|
|8.||Mehdi Bennani||Proteam Racing BMW 320TC||2:32.157||Y|
|9.||Pepe Oriola||Tuenti Racing Team SEAT León WTCC||2:32.475||Y|
|10.||Alex MacDowell||Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||2:32.521||Y|
|11.||Stefano D’Aste||Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC||2:33.025||Y|
|12.||Franz Engstler||Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC||2:33.107||Y|
|Q2 CUT-OFF: 2:33.091||Q1 Time|
|13.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||2:33.181|
|14.||Tom Boardman||Special Tune Racing SEAT León WTCC||2:33.270||Y|
|15.||Fredy Barth||Swiss Racing SEAT León WTCC||2:33.358||Y|
|16.||James Nash||Team Aon Ford Focus S2000 TC||2:34.792|
|17.||Tom Chilton||Team Aon Ford Focus S2000 TC||2:34.969|
|18.||Aleksei Dudukalo||Lukoil Racing SEAT León WTCC||2:35.025||Y|
|19.||Charles Ka-Ki Ng||Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC||2:35.180||Y|
|20.||André Couto||Tuenti Racing SR León 1.6T||2:35.218||Y|
|21.||Fernando Monje||SUNRED Engineering SEAT León WTCC||2:35.307||Y|
|22.||Kei Cozzolino||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||2:39.020||Y|
|23.||Joseph Merszei||Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320si||2:40.785||Y|
|107% CUT-OFF: 2:41.466||Q1 Time|
|NQ.||Henry Ho Wai Kun||Five Auto Racing Team BMW 320si||2:42.170||Y|
|NQ.||Célio Alves Dias||China Dragon Chevrolet Lacetti||2:43.630||Y|
|NQ.||Eurico de Jesus||Five Auto Racing Honda Accord R||2:43.816||Y|
|NQ.||Filipe de Souza||China Dragon Chevrolet Lacetti||no time||Y|
|NQ.||Kin Veng Ng||China Dragon Chevrolet Cruze LT||no time||Y|
|NQ.||Mak Ka Lok||RPM Racing BMW 320si||no time||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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