ALAIN MENU ON POLE, LIKE IN 2007
Alain Menu confirmed his pole position from last year with a last gasp effort that was worth a new lap record of 2:30.285, nearly one second faster than his 2007 pole. The Chevrolet man beat the outgoing world champion Andy Priaulx by 0.17 seconds as they crossed the line together a few seconds before the session expired.
Five different drivers sat on pole position during the 45-minute session.
Yvan Muller gave a big boost to his title hopes by setting the third fastest lap, while the only other pretender to the world crown, his fellow SEAT driver Gabriele Tarquini, had to settle with eighth position after an incident put a premature end to his efforts.
The top-three Chevrolet-BMW-SEAT sequence was repeated by the drivers who qualified in fourth, fifth and sixth positions: Robert Huff, Augusto Farfus and Jordi Gene. Excellent result for Huff, who is aiming for third place in the championship, disappointing for Farfus, who topped the three previous sessions and saw his hopes vanishing on the last attempt when he hit the wall at the Solitude Esses.
The two N.technology Honda cars failed to make the top ten; James Thompson posted the 11th fastest lap, 1.4 seconds off the pole, and local hero Andre Couto the 16th.
Tom Coronel was forced to skip most of the session because the SUNRED team were still working to repair his car after the crash in the second practice; however he managed to join after the second red flag in time to clock the 17th fastest lap.
Once again Sergio Hernandez claimed the Independents' pole position, ousting Franz Engstler in the late stages of the session. Qualifying was disrupted twice by the red flag: first with 18 minutes to go, after Masaki Kano's BMW stopped on the track at Moorish Hill; then again, four minutes after the restart, when Tarquini crashed at Paiol.