Gabriele Tarquini has claimed back-to-back pole positions, leading an emphatic Honda 1-2-3 in qualifying for this weekend’s opening FIA World Touring Car Championship race at the Slovakia Ring.
The Italian starts the opening race ahead of Catrol Honda teammate Tiago Monteiro, while Norbert Michelisz lines in third place in his Zengo Motorsport Civic WTCC.
After topping both of today’s preceding practice sessions, Tarquini was a clear favourite to claim qualifying honours as well. The former F1 driver started out with the quickest time in Q1, and then repeated the feat to edge out Monteiro and Michelisz to repeat his pole-winning effort from the previous round in Morocco.
In a closely-fought Q2 session, he eased Monteiro from top spot by just 0.104 seconds, while the top-four places – with Yvan Muller in fourth spot – were covered by less than two-tenths of a second.
Series leader Muller ultimately failed to squeeze himself between the three Hondas and finished as the best of the Chevrolet pack in fourth place, followed by teammate Tom Chilton. Alex MacDowall was sixth-quickest – and the fastest Independent Trophy driver – in his Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet.
Once again, defending champion Rob Huff finished up as the fastest SEAT driver, although he will cop a ten-place grid penalty for Race 1 after the FIA Stewards ruled that his car had not met the minimum ride height requirements.
The opening phase of qualifying was interrupted by a thirty-minute red flag period, brought about by a heavy accident for Darryl O’Young. The ROAL BMW driver slid off the circuit at Turn 9 and slammed into the tyre barriers side-on, causing massive damage to his car, although fortunately without injury to the Hong Kong driver.
He was one of two drivers who failed to set a time in the session. The luckless Tom Boardman underwent two separate engine changes in his Special Tune Racing SEAT, and then suffered an electrical failure on his Q1 out-lap.
Race 2 will see the top-ten qualifiers’ starting positions reversed, which means that Tom Coronel will start from pole position in the sister ROAL BMW, sharing the front row with Pepe Oriola, winner of the previous reverse-grid race in Morocco.
2013 FIA WTCC Race of Slovakia Q1 & Q2 Session Times:
|1.||Gabriele Tarquini||Castrol Honda Civic WTCC||2:10.773|
|2.||Tiago Monteiro||Castrol Honda Civic WTCC||+ 0.104|
|3.||Norbert Michelisz||Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC||+ 0.116|
|4.||Yvan Muller||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 0.168|
|5.||Tom Chilton||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 0.389|
|6.||Alex MacDowall||Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 0.649||Y|
|7.||Robert Huff*||Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC||+ 0.851|
|8.||James Nash||Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 0.941||Y|
|9.||Pepe Oriola||Tuenti Racing Team SEAT León WTCC||+ 1.109||Y|
|10.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||+ 1.275|
|11.||Mehdi Bennani||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC||+ 2.084||Y|
|12.||Michel Nykjær||NIKA Racing Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 6.841||Y|
|Q2 CUT-OFF: 2:12.363||Q1 Time|
|13.||Marc Basseng||Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC||2:12.603|
|14.||Fredy Barth||Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC||2:12.610||Y|
|15.||James Thompson||LADA Sport Granta||2:12.641|
|16.||Stefano D’Aste||PB Sport BMW 320TC||2:12.665||Y|
|17.||Charles Ka-Ki Ng||Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC||2:12.891||Y|
|18.||Fernando Monje*||Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC||2:21.921||Y|
|19.||René Münnich||Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC||2:13.223||Y|
|20.||Franz Engstler||Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC||2:13.582||Y|
|21.||Mikhail Kozlovskiy||LADA Sport Granta||2:14.900|
|OUTSIDE 107%||Q1 Time|
|NQ.||Darryl O’Young||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||no time||Y|
|NQ.||Tom Boardman*||Special Tune Racing SEAT León WTCC||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).
* Rob Huff received a ten-place grid penalty for Race 1 after failing a post-qualifying technical inspection. Fernando Monje received a five-place grid penalty for Race 1 as a result of his Race 2 collision with James Thompson during the preceding round in Morocco. Tom Boardman received two ten-place grid penalties for separate unscheduled engine changes this weekend.
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