Salzburgring: Muller on pole after strangest qualifying
Yvan Muller secures third pole of 2013
The least that can be said is that this was the strangest-ever qualifying session since the WTCC began in 2005. Possibly, it was one of the strangest ever in motorsport history.
It is true that slipstream at the Salzburgring makes a big difference – up to seven-tenths of a second per lap for WTCC cars. However, this does not justify the behaviour of drivers who acted more like sprint cyclists on a velodrome rather than car racers.
It is unlikely that someone could have seriously challenged Yvan Muller and Tom Chilton for the front row positions, however, a number of other drivers have seen their hopes spoiled by someone else or have spoiled them themselves.
The provisional results speak of Muller’s third pole position of the season, the second in a row after Budapest. However, the Stewards might have something to say and have put fourteen drivers under investigation.
Tom Chilton posted the fastest lap of the session in the early stages, completing a lap of 1:26.670 and then improving to a 1:26.570 that was not to be beaten. Alex MacDowall ranked second and Yvan Muller climbed to third just before the end, demoting Michel Nykjær to fourth.
The final minutes were full of drama, with a bunch of drivers who looked more interested in bothering each other than in improving their positions. Pepe Oriola hit Charles Ng at Turn 9; James Thompson outbraked himself at Turn 1; Hugo Valente and Tom Coronel made contact to avoid Gabriele Tarquini who was driving at a pedestrian’s pace and Marc Basseng crashed at the exit of the last bend just before being given the chequered flag.
As a consequence, only Tarquini was able to improve and make the cut for Q2 in 11th position, kicking Mehdi Bennani out of the top twelve.
The following drivers went through to Q2: Chilton, MacDowall, Muller, Nykjær, Monteiro, Michelisz, Nash, Huff, Coronel, Oriola, Tarquini, D’Aste.
The matter was settled on the first timed lap, when Muller set pole position at 1:25.756, beating Chilton by two-tenths of a second. Huff clocked the third fastest lap, seven-tenths off the pole, and relegated MacDowall to fourth and best of the Yokohama Trophy entrants. Nykjær moved up to fifth, demoting Tarquini to sixth, while Coronel was still sitting in the pits.
All cars left the pitlane for the second attempt with less than two minutes to go. They were driving at a slow pace and nobody seemed willing to open hostilities. Eventually, time ran out before they completed a timed lap, so no one improved and Coronel remained without a qualifying time. And to add insult to injury, he then crashed out on the cooling down lap…
|Pos.||Driver||Car||Q1 time||Q2 time|
|1||Yvan MULLER||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||1:26.981||1:25.756|
|2||Tom CHILTON||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||1:26.570||1:25.961|
|3||Rob HUFF||SEAT Leon WTCC||1:27.128||1:26.554|
|4||Alex MACDOWALL||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||1:26.950||1:26.560|
|5||Michel NYKJAER||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||1:27.018||1:26.654|
|6||Gabriele TARQUINI||Honda Civic||1:27.308||1:26.701|
|7||Tiago MONTEIRO||Honda Civic||1:27.068||1:26.746|
|8||Pepe ORIOLA||SEAT Leon WTCC||1:27.203||1:26.887|
|9||Norbert MICHELISZ||Honda Civic||1:27.084||1:26.902|
|10||James NASH||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||1:27.093||1:26.938|
|11||Stefano D’ASTE||BMW 320 TC||1:27.319||1:27.432|
|12||Tom CORONEL||BMW 320 TC||1:27.148||8:38.901|
|13||Mehdi BENNANI||BMW 320 TC||1:27.323|
|14||Mikhail KOZLOVSKIY||Lada Granta||1:27.415|
|15||Fredy BARTH||BMW 320 TC||1:27.564|
|16||Franz ENGSTLER||BMW 320 TC||1:27.647|
|17||Marc BASSENG||SEAT Leon WTCC||1:27.860|
|18||Hugo VALENTE||SEAT Leon WTCC||1:27.912|
|19||Darryl O’YOUNG||BMW 320 TC||1:28.017|
|20||James THOMPSON||Lada Granta||1:28.021|
|21||Charles NG||BMW 320 TC||1:28.575|
|22||René MUNNICH||SEAT Leon WTCC||1:28.932|
|23||Fernando MONJE||SEAT Leon WTCC||1:29.454|
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