Rob Huff moved another small step closer to his first WTCC title by winning pole position today at Macau and stretching his championship lead by two and one further points ahead of Alain Menu and Yvan Muller.
Once again the Chevrolet team made a clean sweep, placing their three drivers on top of the qualifying sheet. Huff’s pole position was not unexpected, as he had been the fastest in both today’s free practice sessions and had also been on pole at Macau in the three previous years.
However, Muller and Menu – who are now lying 42 and 37 points behind their team-mate – have still some chances to try and reverse the situation in the two races on Sunday.
Gabriele Tarquini put in a solid performance as he qualified fourth, and best of the rest on his last appearance at the wheel of a SEAT car, while his 2013 team-mate Tiago Monteiro claimed a brilliant fifth, the best qualifying result for Honda since they joined the championship one month ago at Suzuka.
Once again, local hero Darryl O’Young shone in qualifying, winning his third consecutive pole position in the Yokohama Trophy at Macau, ahead of Norbert Michelisz and Mehdi Bennani. An outstanding result considering that his bamboo-racing crew had worked all night to rebuild his car after yesterday’s crash.
Tomorrow WTCC drivers will enjoy a day off, before hitting the track again for the two final races of the season on Sunday.
On their first lap out of the pits the Chevrolet trio set provisional fastest laps: Rob Huff’s 2:31.540 was improved by Alain Menu’s 2:31.490 and by Yvan Muller’s 2:30.950. While Menu and Muller did not go for a second quick lap, Huff did and improved to 2:30.903 that was not to be beaten, also because the session was red-flagged four minutes before the end when Fred Barth’s SEAT crashed at the Police bend.
Tiago Monteiro managed to squeeze among the Chevrolet drivers, posting the third fastest lap of 2:31.366.
In the minutes before the red flag, Gabriele Tarquini (2:31.868) and Pepe Oriola (2:32.698) made the top-twelve (in fifth and ninth position respectively), kicking Barth and Tom Coronel out.
As the session restarted for the final four minutes, Coronel had his last chance to make it to Q2, but the Dutchman was stuck behind Mehdi Bennani and when he managed to overtake the Proteam driver he stopped on the track due a broken driveshaft.
Darryl O’Young was the only local driver to win a place in Q2, ranking sixth and best of the Yokohama Trophy with a lap of 2:32.066, while André Couto crashed his Sunred León at Moorish Hill.
The following drivers advanced to Q2: Huff, Muller, Monteiro, Menu, Tarquini, O’Young, Michelisz, MacDowall, Oriola, D’Aste, Bennani and Engstler.
Once again, on their first lap out of the pits, the Chevrolet men were able to lock the first three positions of the grid for Sunday’s Race 1. Muller was the first one to cross the line, clocking a 2:30.361 that was immediately beaten by Huff’s 2:29.422, while Menu’s time of 2:30.507 placed him third.
Most of the positions were decided in the first run, except for Monteiro who aborted his first lap, but kept on running instead of pitting for new tyres. The Honda driver was able to move up to tenth on his second lap and then to fifth on his third lap (2:31.539). Monteiro was sandwiched by Tarquini in fourth (2:30.936) and O’Young in sixth (2:31.643) and on pole for the Yokohama Trophy.
On the second run, Muller, Menu and Tarquini improved their laps times but not their positions.
Alex MacDowall qualified tenth, meaning that he will start from pole position on the top-ten reverse grid for Race 2, alongside Pepe Oriola.