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Menu takes pole for FIA World Touring Car Championship finale
Chevrolet's Alain Menu took a last-second pole position for the FIA World Touring Car Championship finale at Macau on Saturday to upstage the world title contenders.
During a tense session as the different manufacturer teams adopted the slipstream tactics they needed to boost their lap times, several drivers fought it out for the top spot for tomorrow's first race.
Menu had first shown his speed with 10 minutes of qualifying remaining to move to the top of the timesheets, but he was knocked off that spot by BMW Augusto Farfus just three minutes later.
Joint-championship leader Yvan Muller then appeared to have put the matter beyond his rivals as he stormed to the best time with only four minutes of qualifying left, but Menu saved his best for the very last as he stole the pole position on his final lap of the session.
Speaking afterwards, Menu was not underestimating how special his lap was. "I think it was my best qualifying ever in a touring car," he said. "In 1994 I had a good lap at Oulton Park, but this one was better. At this circuit you get a good lap time if you try hard, but it is not easy to not hit anything. It was a fantastic effort from myself and the team."
Behind second place Muller on the grid will be his SEAT teammate Gabriele Tarquini, with Farfus eventually ending up in fourth place. Chevrolet's Nicola Larini will start fifth, ahead of SEAT's Jordi Gene, Chevrolet's Rob Huff and N.Technology's James Thompson.
The session proved to be a disaster for reigning FIA WTCC champion Andy Priaulx, who could not find the pace to match the top guys. Despite a lot of help from team mate Fredrik Ekblom, he eventually ended up down in 12th place - leaving him with an uphill task to take his third consecutive title.