MENU SETS POLE IN EXCITING QUALIFYING
Alain Menu claimed his second pole position of the season in what was a last gasp session for him. First the Swiss driver had to recover a difficult situation in Q1, improving in the dying seconds from 11th to second, which granted him the ticket to ride in Q2.
And then again, in the 15-minute Q2, Menu posted his fastest lap just before the end, moving up from third to first ahead of his Chevrolet team-mates Yvan Muller and Rob Huff who were separated by only four thousandths of a second.
Menu’s pole position lap was absolutely spotless and improved further the track record to a stunning 2:04.946.
Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro did their best, but could not achieve more than fourth and fifth positions, ahead of Tom Coronel, Robert Dahlgren and Norbert Michelisz who topped the Yokohama Trophy.
Q1 – In a breathtaking session Gabriele Tarquini posted the fastest lap of 2:06.397 under the chequered flag, which cost him pole position for tomorrow’s Race 2 as he jumped from 10th to first in Q1 classification. Seconds afterwards Kristian Poulsen crashed his BMW at the pit chicane while trying to make the top ten.
After a few cautious laps, Yvan Muller posted a provisional fastest time of 2:06.964 that was soon to be beaten by Rob Huff’s 2:06.918 and then Tom Coronel’s 2:06.673.
With ten minutes left on the clock, the ball for squeezing among the top-ten and kicking the others off began.
D’Aste, Tarquini, Poulsen and Michelisz in this order, demoted Villa, Monteiro, Engstler and Oriola to 11th position and downwards.
A couple of minutes later Monteiro, Engstler and Villa reacted, provisionally eliminating Barth, Menu and Poulsen.
Menu was able to recover and posted a provisional fastest lap of 2.06.622 kicking Villa off again.
Just as the session expired, Tarquini posted the fastest lap, while Dahlgren eliminated Nykjær.
The following drivers qualified for Q2: Tarquini, Menu, Coronel, Michelisz, Engstler, Dahlgren, Monteiro, Huff, Muller and D’Aste who won pole position for tomorrow’s Race 2.
Q2 – Compared to Q1, the second part of the qualifying session was relatively calm. Yvan Muller set a provisional fastest lap of 2:05.280, while Alain Menu (2:05.424), Gabriele Tarquini (2:05.665) and Rob Huff (2:05.782) were placed second, third and fourth respectively.
The second attempt resulted in a few improvements, with Tiago Monteiro (2:05.656) and Rob Huff (2:05.284) moving up to third and second in the provisional classification.
Eventually Menu claimed pole position with a last lap of 2:04.946, while Gabriele Tarquini’s last effort was worth the fourth place (2:05.548) and Tom Coronel spun during his final attempt.