José María López has inherited pole position for Sunday’s FIA World Touring Car Championship main race on home soil at the Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo after his compatriot Esteban Guerrieri was sensationally stripped of his fastest Q3 time for a procedural violation.
Guerrieri’s one-off outing with the Campos Racing team was generating plenty of attention after the Argentine driver was comfortably fastest in his venerable Chevrolet RML Cruze during both of the preceding 30-minute practice sessions earlier in the day.
The youngster subsequently went on to continue his red hot form in qualifying, making it all the way to Q3 before having his single flying lap time disallowed for failing to respect the red light at the pit exit.
The stewards’ decision thus promoted López to pole position and factor Honda driver Norbert Michelisz to second place for the Main Race, while Tom Coronel inherited the top independent category driver as a result of Guerrieri’s penalty and will start from third place.
Qualifying threw up a number of surprises, not least of which was the dramatic lack of pace from the field’s three LADAs and two Volvos. Along with rookie driver Dániel Nagy, all five factory-backed cars were eliminated from the reckoning in Q1, with the LADA Vestas particularly struggling for rear-end grip.
Guerrieri put in a late effort to go fastest in Q1 and almost repeated the feat in Q2 until he was beaten to top spot in the final stages by López. Yvan Muller was third-fastest in the second factory Citroën, with Coronel and Michelisz claiming the remaining spots for the one-lap Q3 shootout.
Rob Huff qualified sixth-fastest in his Honda, with he and teammate Tiago Monteiro sandwiching the Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën of Mehdi Bennani, whose teammate Tom Chilton wound up ninth-fastest.
Tenth-fastest and on pole position for Sunday’s first reversed-grid race is the Campos Racing Chevrolet of John Filippi, perhaps atoning for the disappointment of Guerrieri’s pole position that was not to be.
Sunday’s opening race, run over 13 laps, will start tomorrow at 14:05 local time (GMT -3), while the 14-lap main race is scheduled for a 15:20 start.
|2016 FIA World Touring Car Championship Race of Argentina – Qualifying Results|
|1.||José María López||Citroën Racing WTCC C-Elysée||1:43.044|
|2.||Norbert Michelisz||Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC||1:43.245|
|3.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze||1:43.284||IND|
|4.||Yvan Muller||Citroën Racing WTCC C-Elysée||1:43.474|
|5.||Esteban Guerrieri*||Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze||no time||IND|
|6.||Rob Huff||Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC||1:43.470|
|7.||Mehdi Bennani||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||1:43.537||IND|
|8.||Tiago Monteiro||Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC||1:43.540|
|9.||Tom Chilton||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||1:43.861||IND|
|10.||John Filippi||Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze||1:43.896||IND|
|11.||James Thompson||Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze||1:43.944||IND|
|12.||Grégoire Demoustier||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||1:44.431||IND|
|13.||Hugo Valente||LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC||1:44.250|
|14.||Nick Catsburg||LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC||1:44.336|
|15.||Gabriele Tarquini*||LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC||1:45.202|
|16.||Thed Björk||Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1||1:45.247|
|17.||Robert Dahlgren||Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1||1:45.361|
|18.||Dániel Nagy*||Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC||1:46.036||IND|
* Post Qualifying Penalties:
- Esteban Guerrieri – who provisionally qualified on pole position – subsequently had his Q3 qualifying time deleted for exiting the pit lane while the exit red light was still illuminated. He will start Race 1 sixth place and Race 2 from fifth place on the grid.
- Gabriele Tarquini and Dániel Nagy will start Race 1 from the back of the grid as a result of an unscheduled engine change.
Image via FIA WTCC Media