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Sonoma : Menu steals pole position from Tarquini

Only Menu was able to beat Tarquini’s time


By Olivier Ferret

23 September 2012 - 01:15
Sonoma : Menu steals pole position (...)

With a last gasp lap, Alain Menu claimed his fourth pole position of the season beating Gabriele Tarquini by two tenths of a second.

The Italian driver had set the benchmark with a very fast first lap and felt like he had wrapped pole position for good. However, the Chevrolet team managed to prepare their cars in time for a second attempt that eventually Menu exploited, stealing the pole at the very last moment.

Tarquini and the Lukoil Racing Team tried to react, but when the SEAT was ready to leave the pit lane, it was too late for a last flying lap. Although they also managed to improve, Yvan Muller and Rob Huff were not able to beat Tarquini’s time and qualified in second and third, ahead of the two best Yokohama Trophy competitors: Norbert Michelisz and Alex MacDowall.

A few drivers were disappointed by the results, as they did not manage to advance to Q2. Tom Coronel spoiled his Q1 by spinning on new tyres, Pepe Oriola could not make any better that 18th, and Team Aon team-mates James Nash and Tom Chilton were not able to repeat the good results they have had in Practice.

Stefano D’Aste and Mehdi Bennani qualified tenth and ninth, meaning a full BMW front row on the reversed grid for Race 2.

Qualifying 1

On his first lap Yvan Muller posted a provisional fastest lap of 1:46.572 that lasted for ten minutes, before Gabriele Tarquini improved to 1:45.947.

Afterwards, the session was disrupted by the red flag with six minutes left on the clock, when Aleksei Dudukalo beached his SEAT at Turn 2.

As action resumed, the Chevrolet trio achieved significant improvements. Rob Huff jumped on top of the list with a lap of 1:45.710, but he was immediately demoted to second by Muller’s 1:45.556. Alain Menu moved up to fourth (1:46.182) ahead of Tiago Monteiro (1:46.643).

Surprisingly the BMW cars seemed much more at ease, after they had struggled in practice.
Stefano D’Aste, Norbert Michelisz, Franz Engstler and Mehdi Bennani occupied the positions from sixth to ninth, while Alberto Cerqui won the 12th and last slot for the Q2. Alex MacDowall in 10th and Dudukalo in 11th completed the field of the drivers allowed to fight for pole position. James Nash was the first of the excluded from Q2, in 13th position, only 0.024 seconds behind Cerqui.

The following drivers adavanced to Q2: Muller, Huff, Tarquini, Menu, Monteiro, D’Aste, Michelisz, Engstler, Bennani, MacDowall, Dudukalo and Cerqui.

Qualifying 2

Three different drivers ousted each other from the top of the time sheet at the end of the first flying lap.

Muller was the first one to take the lead with a lap of 1:45.608, then he was beaten by Menu’s 1:45.567 and eventually Tarquini posted a new provisional fastest time of 1:45.468.

The three Chevrolet drivers prepared for another attempt and hit the track all together. They all improved, but only Menu was able to beat Tarquini’s time posting a 1:45.232 that was good enough for the pole. Muller and Rob Huff were classified third and fourth, while Norbert Michelisz qualified in fifth and best of the Yokohama Trophy, ahead of Alex MacDowall.

Pos. Driver Car Q1 time Q2 time
1 Alain MENU Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T 1:46.182 1:45.232
2 Gabriele TARQUINI SEAT Leon WTCC 1:45.947 1:45.468
3 Yvan MULLER Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T 1:45.556 1:45.539
4 Robert HUFF Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T 1:45.710 1:45.572
5 Norbert MICHELISZ BMW 320 TC 1:46.828 1:46.558
6 Alex MACDOWALL Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T 1:46.939 1:46.578
7 Tiago MONTEIRO SR Leon 1.6T 1:46.643 1:46.594
8 Franz ENGSTLER BMW 320 TC 1:46.842 1:46.761
9 Mehdi BENNANI BMW 320 TC 1:46.889 1:47.004
10 Stefano D’ASTE BMW 320 TC 1:46.717 1:47.263
11 Alberto CERQUI BMW 320 TC 1:46.976 1:47.851
---------- -------- ------ --------
12 Aleksei DUDUKALO SEAT Leon WTCC 1:46.976
13 James NASH Ford Focus S2000 TC 1:47.000
14 Charles NG BMW 320 TC 1:47.050
15 Fernando MONJE SEAT Leon WTCC 1:47.149
16 Darryl O’YOUNG SEAT Leon WTCC 1:47.167
17 Tom CHILTON Ford Focus S2000 TC 1:47.380
18 Pepe ORIOLA SEAT Leon WTCC 1:47.434
19 Tom BOARDMAN SEAT Leon WTCC 1:47.436
20 Tom CORONEL BMW 320 TC 1:47.546
21 Robb HOLLAND Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T 1:48.179


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