Yvan Muller is on pole position for Sunday's opening WTCC race at Macau

Yvan Muller has kicked off his final weekend in RML colours in the best possible fashion, claiming a dominant pole position for Sunday’s opening World Touring Car Championship race at Macau.

The Frenchman broke the lap record in a heavily-disrupted session, ultimately finishing quicker the Castrol Honda pairing of Tiago Monteiro and Gabriele Tarquini by more than a second around the 6.1-kilometre street circuit.

The lead-up to qualifying wasn’t completely without drama for the RML team. While Muller had managed to remain error-free in the preceding practice sessions, the same could not be said for his teammate Tom Chilton, who badly mangled his car in FP2 after a heavy accident at the Fisherman’s Bend.

The first half-hour Q1 session was interrupted by no less than three red flags. The Campos Racing pairing of Hugo Valente and Michael Soong triggered the first two with separate crashes in their SEAT Leóns. Valente binned his car at Paiol, while Soong’s was a bit more dramatic: his car caught fire after crashing at Fisherman’s Bend.

The third red flag came courtesy of Fredy Barth, who also crashed his Weichers-Sport BMW at Paiol.

That left the remaining runners with just five minutes in Q1 in which to improve on their earlier lap times. Chilton managed to get his hastily-repaired Chevrolet inside the top-twelve cut-off, while late improvements for Gabriele Tarquini, Rob Huff and Norbert Michelisz proved enough to knock the unfortunate Pepe Oriola into an early bath.

Outside of Oriola’s misfortune, the final make-up of Q2 didn’t produce too many surprises. James Thompson did well to get his LADA into the second stage, while Tom Coronel was the sole BMW runner to make it through.

Henry Ho finished as the fastest of the EuroSport Asia Trophy contenders, with the Macanese driver getting his very outdated and underpowered BMW 320si 24th-fastest overall, only seven seconds of Muller’s provisional pole time.

Coronel will have pole position for Race 2The second stage of qualifying proved to be just as straightforward for Muller. The Frenchman’s first of two timed runs proved good enough to move him to the top of the timesheets, less than 0.3 seconds clear of Monteiro’s Honda Civic.

But not to be outdone, he had a crack at another run, smashing the lap record with a time eight-tenths of a second faster!

Monteiro wasn’t able to better Muller’s first timed run, and so the four-time World Champion finished a second clear of the Portuguese driver, while former champions Gabriele Tarquini and Rob Huff locked out the second row of the grid.

Alex MacDowall was the fastest Independent Trophy qualifier; he lines up two sports ahead of teammate and trophy rival James Nash – the latter needs at least an eighth-placed finish in either of Sunday’s races to wrap up the crown.

Coronel took his ROAL BMW tenth-quickest in Q2, which gives him pole position for Sunday’s second race when the ten fastest qualifiers’ grid positions are reversed. Thompson starts alongside, and could be a dark horse for victory given his LADA’s impressive straightline speed.

2013 FIA WTCC Guia Race of Macau Q1 & Q2 Session Times:

Driver Team Q2 Time YIT
1. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 2:28.933  
2. Tiago Monteiro POR Castrol Honda Civic WTCC Honda + 1.000
3. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Castrol Honda Civic WTCC Honda + 1.058  
4. Robert Huff GBR Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 1.174  
5. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC Honda + 1.291
6. Alex MacDowall GBR Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 1.315 Y
7. Tom Chilton GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 1.650  
8. James Nash GBR Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 1.790 Y
9. James Thompson GBR LADA Sport Granta LADA + 2.256  
10. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 2.354
11. Marc Basseng DEU Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 2.549  
12. Tom Boardman GBR Special Tune Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 6.056 Y
  Q2 CUT-OFF: 2:31.755 Q1 Gap  
13. Pepe Oriola ESP Tuenti Racing Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 1.658 Y
14. Mehdi Bennani MOR Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW + 2.036 Y
15. Stefano D’Aste ITA PB Sport BMW 320TC BMW + 2.524 Y
16. Fredy Barth SUI Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW + 2.819 Y
17. Darryl O’Young HKG ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 2.962 Y
18. Hugo Valente FRA Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 3.123 Y
19. Konstantins Calko Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 3.705 Y
20. Mikhail Kozlovskiy RUS LADA Sport Granta LADA + 4.082
21. Franz Engstler DEU Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 4.525 Y
22. Charles Ka-Ki Ng* HKG Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 4.633 Y
23. René Münnich DEU Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 5.857 Y
24. Henry Ho Wai Kun MCU Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 320si BMW + 7.000 Y/A
25. Filipe de Souza* MCU China Dragon Chevrolet Cruze LT Chevrolet + 7.778 Y/A
26. Yukinori Tanuguchi JPN NIKA Racing Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 8.326 Y/A
27. Jerónimo Badaraco* MCU Son Veng Racing Chevrolet Cruze LT Chevrolet + 8.724 Y/A
28. Michael Soong HKG Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 9.755 Y
29. Joseph Merszei MCU Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320si BMW + 10.409 Y/A
  OUTSIDE 107% Q1 Gap  
DNQ. Eurico de Jesus MCU PAS Macau Honda Accord Euro-R Honda + 10.874 Y/A
DNQ. Ng Kin Veng MCU China Dragon Chevrolet Cruze LT Chevrolet + 11.352 Y/A
DNQ. Celio Alves Dias MCU China Dragon Chevrolet Lacetti Chevrolet + 12.379 Y/A
DNQ. Mak Ka Lok MCU RPM Racing BMW 320si BMW + 12.817 Y/A
DNQ. Lam Kam San MCU China Dragon Chevrolet Lacetti Chevrolet + 16.689 Y/A

’Q1 Gap’ denotes gap to fastest Q1 time of 2:30.142 set by Yvan Muller

* Charles Ng incurs a ten-place grid penalty for Race 1 for posing an on-track hazard by driving a damaged vehicle back to the pits.
* Felipe de Souza, Jerónimo Badaraco will start from the rear of the grid for Race 1 for an unscheduled engine change.

‘Y’ denotes Yokohama Independent Trophy entered driver
’A’ denotes Eurosport Asia Trophy entered driver

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.

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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.