Four-time World Touring Car champion Yvan Muller showed he has lost none of his speed by claiming pole position for Sunday’s Feature Race in a thrilling qualifying session at the Slovakia Ring.
The French veteran won pole position by just four-hundredths of a second from LADA Sport driver Nick Catsburg, narrowly avoiding being toppled by the Dutch driver in a tense one-lap shootout for pole position.
Fourth-fastest in Q2, Muller knocked Paul Ricard winner Rob Huff off provisional pole with a stunning 2:03.910 lap time that proved too hard for Citroën teammate José María López to beat.
Norbert Michelisz, the fastest man in Q2, was unable to match their efforts and had to settle for fourth place on the grid.
Thed Björk narrowly missed out on getting his Cyan Racing Volvo into the top-five pole shootout, but still managed to outpace Tiago Monteiro’s Honda and Gabriele Tarquini’s Lada. Mehdi Bennani was ninth-fastest and the best-placed Independent Trophy runner; he will share the front row of the reverse-grid opening race with the LADA of Hugo Valente.
Valente had himself set the pace in Q1, despite suffering a scare when he took an off-track moment that triggered a red flag for track debris and a broken splitter on the Frenchman’s car.
Valente’s compatriots John Filippi and Grégoire Demoustier both failed to make it beyond the Q1 cut, along with series returnee James Thompson, ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel and series debutante Ferenc Ficza.
The sister Volvo of Fredrik Ekblom made it to Q2 but was subsequently stripped of its qualifying times for failing to stop at the FIA scrutineers’ weighbridge when indicated.
|2016 FIA World Touring Car Championship Race of Slovakia – Qualifying Results|
|1.||Yvan Muller||Citroën Racing WTCC C-Elysée||2:03.910|
|2.||Nick Catsburg||LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC||2:03.950|
|3.||José María López||Citroën Racing WTCC C-Elysée||2:04.191|
|4.||Norbert Michelisz||Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC||2:04.378|
|5.||Rob Huff||Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC||2:04.751|
|6.||Thed Björk||Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1||2:04.821|
|7.||Tiago Monteiro||Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC||2:04.883|
|8.||Gabriele Tarquini||LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC||2:04.950|
|9.||Mehdi Bennani||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||2:04.998||IND|
|10.||Hugo Valente||LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC||2:05.022|
|11.||Tom Chilton||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||2:05.227||IND|
|EX.||Fredrik Ekblom^||Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1||excluded|
|12.||John Filippi||Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze||2:05.444||IND|
|13.||Grégoire Demoustier||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||2:06.105||IND|
|14.||James Thompson||Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze||2:06.222||IND|
|15.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze||2:07.005||IND|
|16.||Ferenc Ficza||Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC||2:07.202||IND|
- Fredrik Ekblom had his qualifying times excluded for missing the weighbridge check. He will start both races from the back of the grid.
Images via Motorsport.com
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