Muller lays down the gauntlet in tricky conditions as the Frenchman snares pole before the rain sets in, frustration for team-mate Chilton who lines up 12th on the grid
MOSCOW [Russia] - Saturday 8 June 2013: Triple World Champion, Yvan Muller will start from pole position for tomorrow's inaugural race of the FIA World Touring Car Championship Race of Russia having banked a perfectly timed flying lap moments before heavy rain brought Q2 running to a premature end.
With the track slowing and the rest of the field unable to respond as conditions deteriorated, the Frenchman had done enough to protect his pole and ensure the Lukoil-liveried Cruze lines up in pride of place at the front of the grid.
Across the garage Tom Chilton's early rapture from Q1 pace - in which he pipped his team-mate to second fastest just behind Tom Coronel - turned to disappointment as the Briton was unable to further capitalise and push the Cruze to the limit despite his best efforts.
Chilton explains: "We did a great job with the car this weekend and after Q1 I set a quicker time than Yvan, which is never easy, so I was very happy with the pace and performance at that stage. And then for Q2 the rain started to come in and so my plan was to get out ahead, passing Yvan, Gabriele and Norbert on the out lap to ensure a clean run. I needed that quick dry lap. But half way round the track was already getting slippery and, being first on the track I was a little cautious, keen to avoid any big slides so I lost time to the others there. It's a real disappointment and another lesson learnt but tomorrow we'll be determined to work through to the front. The podium is a realistic target."
Ron Hartvelt, WTCC Project Manager: "The guys have done a great job today and pole position is the perfect reward for that. It's a real shame for Tom because as we saw in the first qualifying session, he definitely has the pace there and has very quickly adapted to this new track so we were confident he'd be right at the front with Yvan. But then with heavy rainfall, inevitably the track loses pace and nobody was able to go out and improve. It's frustrating and we can wish we had an extra dry lap in the bag but tomorrow I know they will both, as always, be 100% committed to doing their best and putting on a good show for all our partners, sponsors and the many fans that already seem totally engaged in what the WTCC has to offer, which is great news for the championship."