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