Yvan Muller has claimed his fourth pole position on the trot and will look to extend his championship lead when he starts from the prime grid slot for Sunday’s opening race around the streets of Porto.
The Frenchman led home RML Chevrolet teammate Tom Chilton, with the Englishman scrambling around the 4.8-kilometre circuit to claim P2 after the second qualifying session was suspended due to an accident for Pepe Oriola.
Despite his dramas, Oriola still managed to qualify sixth-fastest in his first outing at the wheel of a Chevrolet Cruze to ensure four of the six-fastest qualifiers would represent the American carmaker. Michel Nykjær was third-quickest in his NIKA Racing entry.
As we had predicted, the Hondas would prove to be the closest challengers to the Chevrolets. Norbert Michelisz managed to qualify his Zengõ Motorsport entry fourth-quickest, while Gabriele Tarquini was fifth-fastest in his Castrol-sponsored Civic.
Tarquini’s teammate Tiago Monteiro had a nightmare Saturday, suffering a turbo failure in the morning’s second free practice session, which was still not fully cured come qualifying. The luckless Portuguese driver could only manage the 17th-fastest time.
The LADA outfit had another solid showing for James Thompson, who took his little Granta to seventh-quickest, beating home all SEAT and BMW runners and giving the team plenty of reasons to smile.
Münnich Motorsport managed to get two of its SEATs into the final phase of qualifying, with reigning champion Rob Huff qualifying eighth-fastest, one spot ahead of teammate Marc Basseng, who had his best qualifying performance since the second round of the season at Marrakech.
Tenth-quickest was James Nash in the first of the Bamboo Engineering Chevrolets, giving the Englishman pole position for Race 2, which will have the ten-fastest qualifiers reverse their grid positions. Nash’s teammate Alex MacDowall suffered a single-car accident in the opening qualifying session, consigning him to a lowly qualifying session for both races.
2013 FIA WTCC Race of Russia Q1 & Q2 Session Times:
|1.||Yvan Muller||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||2:05.347|
|2.||Tom Chilton||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 0.198|
|3.||Michel Nykjær||NIKA Racing Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 0.630||Y|
|4.||Norbert Michelisz||Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC||+ 0.686|
|5.||Gabriele Tarquini||Castrol Honda Civic WTCC||+ 0.825|
|6.||Pepe Oriola||Tuenti Racing Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 1.067||Y|
|7.||James Thompson||LADA Sport Granta||+ 1.205|
|8.||Robert Huff||Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC||+ 1.313|
|9.||Marc Basseng||Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC||+ 1.316|
|10.||James Nash||Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 1.555||Y|
|11.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||+ 1.556|
|12.||Franz Engstler||Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC||+ 1.718||Y|
|Q2 CUT-OFF: 2:07.539||Q1 Time|
|13.||Mehdi Bennani||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC||2:07.560||Y|
|14.||Stefano D’Aste||PB Sport BMW 320TC||2:08.045||Y|
|15.||Darryl O’Young||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||2:08.146||Y|
|16.||Fredy Barth||Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC||2:08.160||Y|
|17.||Tiago Monteiro||Castrol Honda Civic WTCC||2:08.209|
|18.||Tom Boardman||Special Tune Racing SEAT León WTCC||2:08.678||Y|
|19.||Charles Ka-Ki Ng||Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC||2:08.716||Y|
|20.||Fernando Monje*||Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC||2:08.778||Y|
|21.||Hugo Valente||Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC||2:09.122||Y|
|22.||Alex MacDowall||Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||2:09.361||Y|
|23.||Nikolai Karamyshev*||Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC||2:09.551||Y|
|24.||René Münnich||Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC||2:10.350||Y|
|OUTSIDE 107%||Q1 Time|
|NQ.||Mikhail Kozlovskiy||LADA Sport Granta||no time|
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 Race 1 for an unscheduled engine change.