Yvan Muller won his fifth pole position of the season

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.

Lopez gave the Weichers-Sport team pole position for Race 2Another 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:

Driver Team Q2 Time YIT
1. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:47.920  
2. Tom Chilton GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 0.503  
3. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC Honda + 0.935
4. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Castrol Honda Civic WTCC Honda + 0.999  
5. Pepe Oriola ESP Tuenti Racing Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 1.059 Y
6. Alex MacDowall GBR Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 1.119 Y
7. Tiago Monteiro* POR Castrol Honda Civic WTCC Honda + 1.257
8. James Nash GBR Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 1.316 Y
9. Michel Nykjær DEN NIKA Racing Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 1.486 Y
10. José María López ARG Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW + 1.754 Y
11. Hugo Valente^ FRA Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 2.210 Y
12. James Thompson GBR LADA Sport Granta LADA + 2.433  
  Q2 CUT-OFF: 1:50.212 Q1 Time  
13. Marc Basseng DEU Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC SEAT 1:50.272  
14. Robert Huff* GBR Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC SEAT 1:50.314  
15. Fernando Monje ESP Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC SEAT 1:50.583 Y
16. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 1:50.744
17. Stefano D’Aste ITA PB Sport BMW 320TC BMW 1:50.788 Y
18. Charles Ka-Ki Ng HKG Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 1:51.328 Y
19. Darryl O’Young HKG ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 1:51.345 Y
20. René Münnich DEU Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC SEAT 1:51.368 Y
21. Mehdi Bennani MOR Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW 1:51.862 Y
22. Franz Engstler DEU Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 1:51.886 Y
  OUTSIDE 107% Q1 Time  
NQ. Mikhail Kozlovskiy RUS LADA Sport Granta LADA 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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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.