ROUNDS 3 & 4 – LE CASTELLET, FRANCE
Sébastien Loeb and José María López set the two fastest laps in today’s qualifying, and this would have been Loeb’s first WTCC pole position. However they were both stripped of their positions after the technical checks.
During the post-qualifying checks, the FIA Technical Delegate tested the automatic fuel cut-off system on all the five cars that took part in Q3.
This test failed on the Citroën C-Elysée cars of Loeb and López; the same test had been successfully performed last week before the opening event of the season at Marrakech.
Consequently, the Stewards of the Meeting decided to disallow all lap times set by the two drivers who will be demoted to the back of the starting grids of both tomorrow’s races.
This will place Yvan Muller and Gabriele Tarquini on the front row of the starting grid for Race 1, while Mehdi Bennani and René Münnich will share the front row of the top-ten reverse grid for Race 2.
On the track he knows better among those that host the championship, Loeb had improved in each part of the qualifying session. Second behind Yvan Muller in Q1 (one tenth slower) and Q2 (with a gap of 0.07 seconds) the former rally ace clocked the fastest lap in Q3, beating José María López by 0.09 and Muller by 0.33.
One of the first persons to congratulate Loeb was His Serene Highness the Prince Albert of Monaco who was visiting the WTCC paddock invited by Daniel Elena, Loeb’s former co-driver.
Behind the Citroën trio, Honda and Chevrolet cars fought for the other positions. Eventually Gabriele Tarquini pipped Hugo Valente to secure fourth position, while Norbert Michelisz and Tom Chilton were the first two drivers who remained out of Q3.
John Filippi provided the icing on the cake for the French fans, posting the fastest lap in the TC2T class.
ETCC – ULRIKE KRAFFT TAKES SUPER 1600 POLE
Nikolay Karamyshev (TC2T), Norbert Kiss (TC2), Ulrike Krafft (S1600) and Dmitry Bragin (SMT) set pole positions in today’s qualifying at Le Castellet.
After setting the fastest laps in yesterday’s testing and this morning’s practice the two Chevrolet Cruze cars run by Campos Racing topped again the overall classification and the TC2T class. Karamyshev improved significantly from 1:35.022 to 1:33.964, inflicting a one-second gap to his team-mate Igor Skuz (1:35.021). BMW drivers Franz Engstler (1:35.493) and Mat’o Homola (1:36.114) were classified in third and fourth respectively.
Norbert Kiss placed his Team Unicorse Alfa Romeo 156 in fifth overall and on top of the TC2 class with a lap of 1:36.670, beating the BMW cars of the Krenek Motorsport duo of Petr Fulín (1:37.098) and Michal Matĕjovský (1.38.198).
In the Single Make Trophy, SMP Racing’s Dmitry Bragin pipped Andreas Pfister with a last lap of 1:37.956 that was also good enough for the eighth position overall; Pfister remained second (1:38.235), while young Finn Aku Pellinen took third (1:38.290).
In the Super 1600 class the best lap time was set by Ulrike Krafft in her Ravenol Team Ford Fiesta (1:49.819); the German girl literally outclassed her competitors, leaving her team-mates Christian Kranenberg (1:51.702) and Patrick Wolf (1:51.741) nearly two seconds behind.
Gilles Bruckner, runner up in the 2013 S1600 ETCC was forced out of the meeting following an engine failure that hit his Ford Fiesta car during Friday’s testing.
Race 1 starts at 12.45 local time tomorrow with Race 2 beginning at 13.50.