Yvan Muller proved to be in a league of his own today on Valencia’s Circuit Ricardo Tormo. After topping the two practice sessions, the reigning world champion claimed his third consecutive pole position, the fourth of the season for him, and the ninth for Chevrolet in nine events.
His team-mate and point leader Rob Huff will line up alongside him on the grid for tomorrow’s Race 1, with the SUNRED cars of Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro filling the second row.
The third Chevrolet man, Alain Menu could not achieve any better than a sixth place, behind Tom Coronel’s BMW.
It was not a lucky session for the Spanish drivers. Pepe Oriola was the first out of the top ten and missed the opportunity to start from the pole on the reverse grid for Race 2; Javier Villa lost the Yokohama Trophy pole position to Norbert Michelisz by 0.028 seconds.
Q1 – Javier Villa opened hostilities, posting a provisional fastest lap of 1:44.395 in the early stages. With eight minutes left on the clock, Gabriele Tarquini improved to 1:43.907, a time that eventually proved to be the fastest for good.
Norbert Michelisz and Tiago Monteiro were able to close the gap from Tarquini. They were timed at 1:44.047 (Michelisz) and 1:44.086 (Monteiro) provisionally moving up to second and third.
However, the Chevrolet drivers broke in to make sure they made the top ten: Alain Menu’s 1:43.992 gave him the second place behind Tarquini, and Rob Huff’s 1:44.060 enabled him to squeeze into fourth between Michelisz and Monteiro.
The usual drama to win a place for Q2 hit local hero Pepe Oriola, who was deprived of the 10th position (and pole for Race 2) by Michel Nykjær who climbed to eighth just when the chequered flag dropped.
This handed another Race 2 pole position to Franz Engstler, who may now hope to repeat his Oschersleben victory.
The following drivers advanced to Q2: Tarquini, Menu, Michelisz, Huff, Monteiro, Muller, Villa, Nykjær, Coronel and Engstler.
Q2 – On his first lap Muller stopped the watches on the time of 1:42.985, staking a serious claim on the pole position. None of the other nine drivers gave the impression to be fast enough to beat the reigning world champion’s time.
Then in the late moments Gabriele Tarquini completed a lap of 1:43.182 that propelled him to second, and immediately afterwards Rob Huff improved to 1:43.105 demoting the Italian to third.
However, Muller settled the matter for good posting an even faster lap of 1:42.649.
Just before the end of the session Norbert Michelisz qualified in seventh position, stealing the Yokohama Trophy pole from Javier Villa.