However they were both stripped of their positions after the technical checks.
During the post-qualifying checks, the FIA Technical Delegate tested the automatic fuel cut-off system on all the five cars that took part in Q3.
This test failed on the Citroën C-Elysée cars of Loeb and López; the same test had been successfully performed last week before the opening event of the season at Marrakech.
Consequently, the Stewards of the Meeting decided to disallow all lap times set by the two drivers who will be demoted to the back of the starting grids of both tomorrow’s races.
This will place Yvan Muller and Gabriele Tarquini on the front row of the starting grid for Race 1, while Mehdi Bennani and René Münnich will share the front row of the top-ten reverse grid for Race 2.
On the track he knows better among those that host the championship, Loeb had improved in each part of the qualifying session. Second behind Yvan Muller in Q1 (one tenth slower) and Q2 (with a gap of 0.07 seconds) the former rally ace clocked the fastest lap in Q3, beating José María López by 0.09 and Muller by 0.33.
One of the first persons to congratulate Loeb was His Serene Highness the Prince Albert of Monaco who was visiting the WTCC paddock invited by Daniel Elena, Loeb’s former co-driver.
Behind the Citroën trio, Honda and Chevrolet cars fought for the other positions. Eventually Gabriele Tarquini pipped Hugo Valente to secure fourth position, while Norbert Michelisz and Tom Chilton were the first two drivers who remained out of Q3.
John Filippi provided the icing on the cake for the French fans, posting the fastest lap in the TC2T class.