Gabriele Tarquini has led a Honda qualifying rout at the Slovakia Ring

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.

Oops! Darryl O'Young inspects the damage to his BMW

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:

Driver Team Q2 Time YIT
1. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Castrol Honda Civic WTCC Honda 2:10.773  
2. Tiago Monteiro POR Castrol Honda Civic WTCC Honda + 0.104
3. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC Honda + 0.116
4. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 0.168  
5. Tom Chilton GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 0.389  
6. Alex MacDowall GBR Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 0.649 Y
7. Robert Huff* GBR Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 0.851  
8. James Nash GBR Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 0.941 Y
9. Pepe Oriola ESP Tuenti Racing Team SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 1.109 Y
10. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 1.275
11. Mehdi Bennani MOR Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW + 2.084 Y
12. Michel Nykjær DEN NIKA Racing Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 6.841 Y
  Q2 CUT-OFF: 2:12.363 Q1 Time  
13. Marc Basseng DEU Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC SEAT 2:12.603  
14. Fredy Barth SUI Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW 2:12.610 Y
15. James Thompson GBR LADA Sport Granta LADA 2:12.641  
16. Stefano D’Aste ITA PB Sport BMW 320TC BMW 2:12.665 Y
17. Charles Ka-Ki Ng HKG Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 2:12.891 Y
18. Fernando Monje* ESP Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC SEAT 2:21.921 Y
19. René Münnich DEU Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC SEAT 2:13.223 Y
20. Franz Engstler DEU Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 2:13.582 Y
21. Mikhail Kozlovskiy RUS LADA Sport Granta LADA 2:14.900
  OUTSIDE 107% Q1 Time  
NQ. Darryl O’Young HKG ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW no time Y
NQ. Tom Boardman* GBR Special Tune Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT 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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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.