After inheriting pole position at Le Castellet – following his team-mates’ penalties – Yvan Muller topped the qualifying session at the Hungaroring.
The reigning world champion put in an brilliant performance in Q3, outclassing his rivals with a impressive first sector that was worth an advantage of nearly three tenths.
This enabled him to set the fastest lap of 1:48.727 that José María López did not manage to beat, although he recovered in the second part of the lap, reducing the gap to only three hundredths. Sébastien Loeb completed the Citroën trio on top of the qualifying, posting the third fastest lap (1:49.113).
Although the final results spoke again in favour of Citroën, this qualifying session was the closest since the beginning of the season: only three tenths covered the first six cars in Q1 and the first seven in Q2.
The Honda and Chevrolet cars have considerably reduced the gap from the French machines and for the first time a Citroën driver (Loeb) risked to be eliminated in Q2 and a non-Citroën driver (Tarquini in Q2) topped a part of the session.
Dušan Borković qualified in tenth, which will mean pole position on the reverse grid for tomorrow’s second race, alongside Gianni Morbidelli; while Pasquale Di Sabatino won his first pole in the TC2T class.
After brief spells of Bennani (1:50.017) and Muller (1:49.393) on top of the time sheet, López posted the fastest lap of 1:49.328, only 0.06 seconds faster than Muller.
In the dying moments of the session Monteiro (1:49.668) and Michelisz (1:49.328) improved and climbed up to third and sixth respectively, separated by Loeb (1:49.552) and Chilton (1:49.634). Bennani, Tarquini, Morbidelli and Coronel rounded off the top ten, while Valente managed to make the cut for Q2 with his last lap, taking 11th position ahead of Borković, and kicking Huff off the top twelve.
Pasquale Di Sabatino took pole position in the TC2T class ahead of his team-mate Franz Engstler who improved on his last attempt, but not enough to beat the young Italian.
The following drivers went through to Q2: López, Muller, Michelisz, Loeb, Chilton, Monteiro, Bennani, Tarquini, Morbidelli, Coronel, Valente and Borković.
With only 12 seconds left on the clock, Tarquini put in a perfect lap of 1:49.410 and topped the Q2, demoting López (1:49.496) to second.
Tarquini’s team-mate Monteiro managed to climb to third with a last gasp lap of 1:49.497, only one thousandth of a second slower than López’s. The Portuguese also kicked Bennani (1:49.745) off the top five.
Muller (1:49.546) and Loeb (1:49.652) won the last two spots for Q3, while Michelisz and Valente spoiled their chances with driving mistakes.
The second driver to hit the track in Q3, Muller proved the strongest among the top five and won pole position with a new record lap of 1:48.727.
López (1:48.761) was very effective in the second half of his lap and qualified second, only 0.034 seconds behind Muller; Loeb grabbed the third place with a lap of 1:49.113.
Monteiro improved by three tenths his Q2 time, however he had to settle in fourth position, five hundredths behind Loeb; his team-mate Tarquini had a disappointing performance and clocked the time of 1:50.576, 1.1 seconds slower than his Q2 time.