Yvan Muller has claimed a commanding pole position – his fifth of the 2013 season – in the FIA World Touring Car Championship’s debut in Argentina.
But the affections of the local crowd were geared solely towards local driver José María López, who made the final phase of qualifying on his one-off outing for the Weichers-Sport BMW team, and then posted a lap-time good enough to give him pole position for Sunday’s second race, which sees the ten-fastest qualifiers’ grid positions reversed.
With the RML Chevrolets of Muller and teammate Tom Chilton having dominated proceedings in the earlier practice sessions, qualifying was simply a case of which driver would ultimately secure top spot.
Once again Muller rose to the top of the pile, lapping quickest in the opening phase of qualifying before going a full 1.2 seconds quicker in Q2 to claim pole position by over half a second from Chilton.
The opening phase of qualifying saw a number of high profile casualties, most notably being the two ROAL BMWs of Tom Coronel and Darryl O’Young, who both ruined each other’s flying laps in a bungling attempt to slipstream the other around the circuit.
Another driver to suffer an early bath was Rob Huff, who only managed to get out for one flying lap in Q1 after his Münnich Motorsport SEAT mechanics were forced to perform a last-minute engine change. His time was still good enough for fourteenth overall, but the Englishman will have to slog it out from the back of the grid for Race 1 because of the unscheduled nature of the engine switch,
With all Chevrolet Cruze and Honda Civic runners making it into the top-twelve shootout for pole, López (BMW), Hugo Valente (SEAT) and James Thompson (LADA) were the sole runners flying the flags of their respective manufacturers in Q2, and managed to occupy the final three spots on the timesheets at the end of the session.
Up at the front, Muller posted the fastest provisional time in Q2, before lowering the benchmark on his second run to lead another RML 1-2 on the grid for Sunday’s opening race.
Norbert Michelisz finished as the quickest Honda runner in third, ahead of fellow Civic racer Gabriele Tarquini, while Pepe Oriola was fifth-fastest.
Alex MacDowall claimed top Independent Trophy qualifying honours with sixth in his Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet, two spots ahead of teammate James Nash, while Independent Trophy points leader Michel Nykjær (who is also second in the overall Drivers’ Championship standings behind Muller) will be hoping to claim an outright race win with his front-row start for Race 2.
2013 FIA WTCC Race of Argentina Q1 & Q2 Session Times:
|1.||Yvan Muller||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||1:47.920|
|2.||Tom Chilton||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 0.503|
|3.||Norbert Michelisz||Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC||+ 0.935|
|4.||Gabriele Tarquini||Castrol Honda Civic WTCC||+ 0.999|
|5.||Pepe Oriola||Tuenti Racing Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 1.059||Y|
|6.||Alex MacDowall||Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 1.119||Y|
|7.||Tiago Monteiro*||Castrol Honda Civic WTCC||+ 1.257|
|8.||James Nash||Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 1.316||Y|
|9.||Michel Nykjær||NIKA Racing Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 1.486||Y|
|10.||José María López||Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC||+ 1.754||Y|
|11.||Hugo Valente^||Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC||+ 2.210||Y|
|12.||James Thompson||LADA Sport Granta||+ 2.433|
|Q2 CUT-OFF: 1:50.212||Q1 Time|
|13.||Marc Basseng||Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC||1:50.272|
|14.||Robert Huff*||Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC||1:50.314|
|15.||Fernando Monje||Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC||1:50.583||Y|
|16.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||1:50.744|
|17.||Stefano D’Aste||PB Sport BMW 320TC||1:50.788||Y|
|18.||Charles Ka-Ki Ng||Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC||1:51.328||Y|
|19.||Darryl O’Young||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||1:51.345||Y|
|20.||René Münnich||Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC||1:51.368||Y|
|21.||Mehdi Bennani||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC||1:51.862||Y|
|22.||Franz Engstler||Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC||1:51.886||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.
^ Denotes ten-place grid penalty for Race 1.
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