Yvan Muller is on pole again

Yvan Muller has prevailed – despite the onset of a late rain shower – to win pole position for the World Touring Car Championship’s first visit to Russian soil.

The Frenchman survived a stern test from Tom Coronel, who took his ROAL BMW to the fastest provisional qualifying time with a lap record effort of 1:42.966.

The Dutchman continued to be Muller’s main threat in the second ten-minute qualifying phase, which also saw fellow BMW runners Mehdi Bennani and Charles Ng both qualifying inside the top-ten. The pair will share the front row in Race 2, with Bennani starting on pole.

Tom Coronel threatened Muller for pole positionMuller posted a provisional Q2 effort of 1:43.335, a scant seven-hundredths of a second faster than Coronel, who clocked the fastest opening sector time before the rain shower hit.

With the track now too wet for anyone to improve on their lap times, the Q2 results were effectively set, giving Muller pole position and five welcome championship points to add to his tally.

The second row of the Race 1 grid comprises reigning champion Rob Huff and Norbert Mischelisz, while Gabriele Tarquini was fifth-fastest in the second Honda.

In a great result for the team on home soil, LADA claimed its best ever outright qualifying result, with James Thompson claiming the sixth-fastest time. With five different manufacturers occupying the top-six grid positions, it speaks volumes for the health of the series.

James Thompson took LADA to the giddy heights of sixth on the grid at the carmaker's home race

With Michel Nykjær (eighth-fastest) being the only other Chevrolet runner to make the top-ten, it was a poor showing for the grid’s five Cruze runners, who are usually a dominant force in qualifying.

Muller’s RML teammate Tom Chilton was the slowest runner in Q2, making a mistake on his only flying lap and finding himself unable to improve when the rain fell down.

The Bamboo Engineering stable also had a rotten time in qualifying. Salzburgring winner James Nash could only manage one grid position better than Chilton, consigning himself to an eleventh-placed grid position for both of Sunday’s races. Nash’s teammate Alex MacDowall had a tougher time, qualifying 18th.

One of the other big names to fall in Q1 was the perennially unlucky Tiago Monteiro, whose Castrol Honda Civic suffered a recurrent fuel pump problem. He will start from a lowly 21st position.

Post-qualifying, both of the Campos Racing SEATs of Fernando Monje and WTCC debutant Nikolai Karamyshev were hit with grid penalties for both of tomorrow’s races and will start from the back of the grid. The pair had their qualifying times disallowed, with Monje’s car failing the ride height requirements and Karamyshev being disciplined for failing to stop at the FIA weighbridge.

2013 FIA WTCC Race of Russia Q1 & Q2 Session Times:

Driver Team Q2 Time YIT
1. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:43.335  
2. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 0.070
3. Robert Huff GBR Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 0.131  
4. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC Honda + 0.437
5. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Castrol Honda Civic WTCC Honda + 0.505  
6. James Thompson GBR LADA Sport Granta LADA + 0.647  
7. Pepe Oriola ESP Tuenti Racing Team SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 0.657 Y
8. Michel Nykjær DEN NIKA Racing Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 0.822 Y
9. Charles Ka-Ki Ng HKG Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 1.086 Y
10. Mehdi Bennani MOR Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW + 1.103 Y
11. James Nash GBR Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 1.784 Y
12. Tom Chilton GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 1.905  
  Q2 CUT-OFF: 1:43.829 Q1 Time  
13. Fredy Barth SUI Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW 1:43.850 Y
14. Darryl O’Young HKG ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 1:44.060 Y
15. Marc Basseng DEU Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC SEAT 1:44.150  
16. Alex MacDowall GBR Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:44.193 Y
17. Stefano D’Aste ITA PB Sport BMW 320TC BMW 1:44.265 Y
18. Mikhail Kozlovskiy RUS LADA Sport Granta LADA 1:44.435
19. Franz Engstler DEU Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 1:44.476 Y
20. Tiago Monteiro POR Castrol Honda Civic WTCC Honda 1:44.610
21. René Münnich DEU Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC SEAT 1:44.685 Y
  OUTSIDE 107% Q1 Time  
NQ. Fernando Monje* ESP Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC SEAT no time Y
NQ. Nikolai Karamyshev* RUS Campos Racing Team 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).
* Demoted to the back of the grid for both races.

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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.