Weather: Sunny and clear
Date: Friday, November 14, 2008

Menu takes FIA WTCC pole as Muller moves closer to title

Chevrolet's Alain Menu secured pole position for the FIA World Touring Car Championship finale in Macau on Friday - but all eyes were on SEAT's Yvan Muller, who moved a step closer to claiming the title when he secured third on the grid.

Muller has a 14-points advantage over his SEAT teammate Gabriele Tarquini heading into the final event of the season, and his hopes of clinching the crown in the first of Sunday's races were boosted when his rival crashed out of qualifying - bringing out a red flag in the process.

Tarquini had been pushing hard in the early part of qualifying but he made a mistake at the Solitude Esses and clouted the barriers. The accident forced him out of the session, and left him unable to take advantage of improving track conditions.

The faster circuit enabled Muller to move to the top of the time sheets with eight minutes to go and, although he saw himself bumped down the order by Menu and outgoing champion Andy Priaulx in the final seconds of the session, he was far from unhappy.

However, Muller was still taking little for granted about his title ambitions - even though he will start five places on the grid ahead of Tarquini.

"For sure it is better to be in front than behind," he said. "But this is Macau and anything is possible. I am in a better place than him, but I have to stay focused anyway."

Behind Muller on the grid are Rob Huff in the Chevrolet and Augusto Farfus in the BMW, who also crashed out at the Solitude Esses in the dying seconds of the session as he tried to regain the top spot from Muller.

The other red flag of the session was caused by Masaki Kano, whose car stopped just after Police Bend and blocked the racing line.

-credit: macau gp