This page contains archived information and may not display perfectly

WTCC - Magic lap gives Bennani maiden WTCC pole


WTCC - 2016 Race of Qatar - Qualifying

FIA, Motorsport, Mobility, Road Safety, F1, WRC, WEC, WTCC, World RX

Mehdi Bennani has claimed a stunning first FIA World Touring Car Championship pole position at WTCC DHL Race of Qatar following a “magic lap” in his Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën.

As the fifth fastest driver in Q2, the 2016 WTCC Trophy champion was first to run in the Q3 shootout and posted a sub-record lap of 2m00.456s that none of his rivals could match.

His factory counterparts, José María López and Yvan Muller, were both up on Bennani’s effort during their laps, but could not match the Moroccan’s final sector time following mistakes and finished up third and fourth respectively.

It was instead Volvo Polestar driver Thed Björk that came closest to Bennani, missing out on pole by just 0.036 seconds, having also faltered in the final sector.

“It’s my first pole position and it’s something very nice for me in my second home race because there is a lot of support between Qatar and Morocco,” said Bennani. “The lap was magic. The first and second sector I was very clean and my engineer told me I had nothing to lose because the target had been Q3. In the end some drivers do mistakes and we had some luck.”

Honda’s Norbert Michelisz failed to complete his Q3 lap after making contact with a tyre stack marking the track limit, which caused the session to be red-flagged.

In Q2, Hugo Valente suffered broken front left suspension on his LADA, bringing out the red flags. Only Muller and López had times on the board at the time, so the restart was a single-lap shootout for the other drivers to set a time.

Rob Huff missed out on a place in Q3 in sixth, ahead of Tiago Monteiro, Robert Dahlgren, Gabriele Tarquini and Tom Chilton, who claimed Opening Race pole.

Tom Coronel was knocked out in Q1, together with James Thompson, John Filippi, Ferenc Ficza, Dániel Nagy and Grégoire Demoustier.

The Opening Race takes place at 21h20 local time, followed by the Main Race at 22h35.