Fourth successive pole for Muller
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.
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.
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) while the tenth quickest time (2:06.903) means the BMW of Tom Coronel will start Race 2 from pole position.