Yvan Muller takes WTCC pole in Portugal

Yvan MullerYvan Muller, driving a Chevrolet Cruze, will start the first of two WTCC races on the Porto Boavista street circuit from pole position with his teammate Tom Chilton alongside him, after the RML cars set the two fastest times in this afternoon’s Qualifying session.

This is Muller’s fourth consecutive pole position, following similar feats in Budapest, Salzburgring and Moscow, while making it an all-Chevrolet top three – and the fastest of the Yokohama Trophy entrants – was Michel Nykjær.

Qualifying 1
Muller set the fastest lap time of the session (2:05.979) ahead of Nykjær (2:06.461) and Tarquini (2:06.522). Norbert Michelisz (2:06.876) made it two Honda Civic cars in the top four, while the Chevrolet of Tom Chilton (2:06.993) rounded off the top five. Portuguese hero Tiago Monteiro failed to make it through to the second stage of Qualifying after only setting the 17th quickest time (2:08.209) following his Honda’s earlier turbocharger change, while Alex MacDowall’s chances of progressing into Q2 were effectively ended by a heavy contact with the wall at Turn 12 on his fifth lap. Mehdi Bennani also made contact with the barriers before the chequered flag fell and so failed to improve on his 13th fastest time. Mikhail Kozlovskiy took no part in the session as the LADA mechanics were unable to repair the damage sustained in the second Free Practice. The following drivers went through to Q2: Muller, Nykjær, Tarquini, Michelisz, Chilton, Huff, Coronel, Nash, Engstler, Basseng, Thompson, Oriola.

Qualifying 2
Yvan Muller set his best lap (2:05.347) right at the start of the session, with Michel Nykjær (2:05.977) the only other driver to beat the 2:06.000 barrier in the first few laps. The session was red-flagged after around six minutes when the Chevrolet of Pepe Oriola slid wide at Turn 2 and made contact with the tyre wall. Once the session resumed, Tom Chilton snatched second place away from Nykjær with a lap of 2:05.545 and James Thompson’s LADA Granta emerged from the pit lane to set the fifth quickest time (2:06.552), best qualifying result ever for the Russian manufacturer. The SEAT León of seventh-placed Rob Huff (2:06.660) was just three-thousandth of a second faster than his team-mate Marc Basseng’s (2:06.663).

Following mistakes in timing, wrong (and slower) lap times were allocated to Gabriele Tarquini and Pepe Oriola during today’s Q2 qualifying.
Tarquini’s and Oriola’s actual times of 2:06.172 and 2:06.414 moved them up to fifth and sixth respectively in detriment of Thompson who slipped from fifth to seventh.
As a consequence of the reshuffle, Coronel slipped to 11th and lost the pole position on the reverse grid for Race 2 that was inherited by James Nash.

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