Muller beats Tarquini and Coronel for pole
Chevrolet, SEAT and BMW filled the top three positions at the end of an exciting qualifying session at Valencia today. Yvan Muller claimed pole for tomorrow’s Race 1 surviving a sporting penalty that had risked to eliminate him at the end of Q1.
Gabriele Tarquini qualified second, despite a driving mistake on his last attempt in Q2, while Tom Coronel emerged as the third fastest.
Spaniard teenager Pepe Oriola beat Rob Huff by 0.033 seconds to achieve a brilliant fourth place overall that was also worth pole position in the Yokohama Trophy. Stefano D’Aste qualified tenth, and therefore won pole position on the reversed grid for Race 2. Aleksei Dudukalo’s SEAT provided a hot moment after the end of the session, catching fire inside the parc fermé.
Gabriele Tarquini only joined in the second half of the twenty-minute leg, but one lap was enough for him to top the list with the time of 1:42.933, ousting local hero Pepe Oriola’s provisional fastest lap of 1:43.340.
A few seconds later Yvan Muller improved the limit to 1:42.459, but his time was disallowed by the Race Director because the World Champion had cut the apex of Turn 1. This jeopardized Muller’s position as he risked to miss the cut to Q2.
However, on his last attempt, the Frenchman managed to climb to eighth. The final moments were breathtaking as usual. After sitting in the pit for most of the session, while the team was replacing a broken driveshaft, Tom Coronel posted the fourth fastest lap, kicking his team-mate Alberto Cerqui off the top-12. Aleksei Dudukalo set the third fastest lap of 1:43.230 just before the end, while Alex MacDowall missed a last opportunity to make the cut by one tenth. The following drivers went through to Q2: Tarquini, Menu, Dudukalo, Coronel, Oriola, O’Young, Huff, Muller, Michelisz, Engstler, Monteiro and D'Aste.
The first lap out of the pits saw Muller (1:42.352), Tarquini (1:42.591), Corone (1:42.643) and Oriola (1:42.829) significantly improving the times set so far. Of the other drivers admitted to Q2, only Rob Huff and Norbert Michelisz seemed capable of subverting this hierarchy. But Muller was the only one able to improve on the second run, completing a lap of 1:42.228 that consolidated his position on top of the list, while Tarquini spoiled his last attempt with a mistake that sent his car on the gravel.
DARREN TUNER NEW DRIVER ADVISER
After John Cleland attended the season opening event at Monza as the first WTCC Driver Adviser, Darren Turner was designated to join the Panel of the Stewards at Valencia.Turner, 37 years old from England, has built himself a solid reputation in GT and Sportscar competitions. Twice a winner of the GT1 class at the Le Mans 24 Hours (2007 and 2008), twice runner up in the FIA GT1 World Championship (2010 and 2011), Turner is currently racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship for Aston Martin.
THEY SAID, THEY SAID…
Yvan Muller – pole position
“It was tough after the penalty I had in Q1. I was pleased with my time, but they told me on the radio that it had been disallowed and I had to go again. The question was using the same set of tyres or going for a new one? But then I would have had only one set left for Q2. We decided to stay on the same set and fortunately I could secure a position among the top-12. In Q2 my first lap was very good, but because Gabriele (Tarquini) is capable of anything, I said myself : maybe this is not enough. So I made another attempt and managed to improve by one tenth. I’m happy to be on pole, because tomorrow’s races will be tough. It will be hot and Tommy (Coronel) is not far behind.”
Gabriele Tarquini – 2nd
“I’m a little bit disappointed because of the mistake on my last lap in Q2, but to be honest my time would have been slower than Yvan’s. I was trying to improve my first run’s time, but I lost the front on my car at Turn 11 and found myself driving wide on the gravel. I was lucky that my first run was good enough to secure second place. A front row starting position makes me happy, because I think this is the best I could achieve, considering that Yvan’s 42.2 was an amazing lap time.”
Tom Coronel – 3rd
“I missed most of Q1 in the pits, because a driveshaft broke on my first lap out. The team did a great job, as they were capable to fix it in time for me to rejoin the session and post a lap time that sent me to Q2. On my first run in Q2 I saw Muller and Tarquini in front of me, so I said: they know the way, they are fast, so it’s better I follow them. And indeed they gave me a good tow. On my second run I was following Gabriele once again, but he made a mistake which spoiled my lap as well.”
Pepe Oriola – 1st in Yokohama Trophy
“This has been a great result for me and the team, especially after we had to fix a technical issue during the second free practice. We knew I could fight for pole position in the Yokohama Trophy, but definitely we did not expect to be among the top four. I could not have dreamed of a better result for the team and the Spanish fans. Now we need to focus on finding a good set up for tomorrow’s races.”