Tarquini takes dominant pole
After setting an impressive fastest lap in this morning’s first free practice, Gabriele Tarquini and his SEAT León claimed their second pole position of the season in a dominant way.
It took only two flying laps to the Italian driver to leave the rest of the field behind. Tarquini topped Q1 with an already impressive 1:54.809, and in Q2 he literally annihilated his competitors with an improvement of nearly one second.
Yvan Muller was the only Chevrolet driver who managed to fight for the pole, and eventually claimed the second spot on the grid for tomorrow’s first race, while Rob Huff qualified in fourth and Alain Menu in a disappointing ninth.
Norbert Michelisz topped the Yokohama Trophy, and qualified a brilliant third overall. His team-mate Gábor Wéber completed Zengö Motorsport’s excellent result by qualifying seventh, ahead of local hero Tiago Monteiro.
Pepe Oriola qualified tenth, and therefore won pole position on the reversed grid for Race 2.
In a session that was disrupted by the red flag with only six minutes left on the clock, Tarquini posted the fastest lap beating the three Chevrolet cars of Muller, Huff and Menu. Huff was the first driver to set the early pace with a lap of 1:54.985, but he was soon ousted by Tarquini’s 1:54.809 that remained the best time for the rest of the session. After the red flag period, caused by Tom Chilton’s Ford that had stopped out of Turn 5 with a broken steering arm, Muller (1:54.982) and Menu (1:55.163) improved to rank second and fourth respectively, with Michelisz (1:55.242) in fifth, while Monteiro managed to make his way into the top-twelve on his last attempt, kicking Franz Engstler off. The following drivers went through to Q2: Tarquini, Muller, Huff, Menu, Michelisz, Oriola, Cerqui, Coronel, Monteiro, Bennani, Dudukalo and Wéber.
Tarquini settled the matter for good on his first flying lap, smashing the 1:54 wall and setting a new track record of 1:53.966. Muller was the only one who looked capable to threat Tarquini’s potential pole position, but the Frenchman could not achieve any better than the second fastest lap of 1:54.232.
Michelisz qualified in third position with the time of 1:54.598 and won pole position for the Yokhama Trophy, while Huff was able to climb to fourth with a last lap of 1:54.932.
MONTEIRO RECEIVES SUSPENDED PENALTY
Tiago Monteiro was given a suspended grid penalty by the Stewards for overtaking during the red flag period in today’s Q1. Monteiro will be dropped five places on the grid of one of the next races in case he will incur again in the same infringement before the end of the current season.
THEY SAID, THEY SAID…
Gabriele Tarquini (pole position):
“I am quite happy with my lap. I improved a lot between Q1 and Q2. I had asked for some changes on the car and these worked very well. Sometimes I’m surprised by the performance the SEAT León is able to achieve. It’s seven years old now, and yet on some tracks is still extremely competitive. Maybe it’s a good combination between old characters: the car and the driver… After I had realized that car was quick here, I decided to spent the second free practice to work on the race set-up. The races will be long and tough, and a good set-up can make quite a big difference.”
Yvan Muller (2nd):
“I think I can be pleased with my result today. Today it was impossible to beat Gabriele, but the in the race it may be different. I hope I had a chance to win tomorrow, but the most important thing for me is to focus on scoring points for the championship fight.”
Norbert Michelisz (3rd and 1st in Yokohama Trophy):
“I almost had a perfect lap in qualifying. I’m very pleased with today result, especially after we had a few engine problems in free practice. However, I think that in terms of pace we are far away from the SEAT and Chevrolet cars, although I hope I can be faster in the second part of the race.”