Muller claims third consecutive pole
Current championship leader Yvan Muller claimed his third consecutive pole position (and the fourth for him in the season) at the end of an exciting qualifying session at the Moscow Raceway.
Once again the Frenchman was a master in choosing the perfect timing for his attempt. As it was made clear by the first drops of rain that a second try would not be possible, he pushed his Chevrolet Cruze to the limits on the first lap and posted the fastest time, beating Tom Coronel’s BMW and Rob Huff’s SEAT by narrow margins.
The Honda cars of Norbert Michelisz and Gabriele Tarquini qualified in fourth and fifth, while James Thompson’s LADA was sixth fastest, making five different car manufacturers in the top six.
Thanks to the reversed grid, Menhdi Bennani’s BMW will start Race 2 from pole position with the similar car of Charles Ng alongside him.
Tom Coronel emerged as the fastest in Q1, clocking the time of 1:42.966 on his first lap out of the pits.
Two other drivers also secured their place for Q2 at the beginning of the session: Yvan Muller (1:43.296) and Michel Nykjær (1:43.699). For the rest of the field it was a matter of improving before it was too late.
Tom Chilton managed to make the cut with five minutes left on the clock, posting the second fastest lap (1:43.262) and kicking Darryl O’Young off the top twelve. Pepe Oriola was next, climbing to fourth with the time of 1:43.450 and eliminating Fredy Barth.
While James Thompson had placed his LADA in fifth, all Honda drivers were struggling. Gabriele Tarquini and Norbert Michelisz eventually won the last two spots for Q2, while Tiago Monteiro remained off due to a problem to the hydraulic circuit.
The following drivers went through to Q2: Coronel, Chilton, Muller, Oriola, Thompson, Nykjær, Bennani, Nash, Huff, Ng, Tarquini and Michelisz. Barth was the first out of the top twelve with a gap of only 21 thousandths of a second.
Rain began to fall as soon as the drivers completed the warm up lap and everything was decided by the time they crossed the line at the end of their first timed lap.
Muller was fastest in 1:43.335, beating Coronel’s 1:43.405 and Huff’s 1:43.466; Michelisz placed his Honda in fourth (1:43.772) ahead of Tarquini (1:43.840), while Thompson’s LADA ranked in sixth (1:43.982) only one hundredth of a second faster than Oriola. Nykjær was classified eighth overall and topped the Yokohama Trophy.