The Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs performed strongly in qualifying at the Hungaroring, despite carrying 60 kg more weight than the rest of the field for the first time this season.
Clocking the fastest time in both free practice sessions, which were contested in rainy conditions, José María López got his weekend off to a perfect start. Things were trickier for Sébastien Loeb, who crashed off on his first flying lap. Thanks to sterling work from the team mechanics, however, he was able to make it back out on track for the second session.
The sun was shining again in time for qualifying, which got under way in the early afternoon. The four Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs negotiated Q1 without any hiccups. In Q2, Yvan Muller led for much of the session, but was eclipsed by José María López at the very end. Sébastien Loeb completed a 1-2-3 for Citroën, with a time just 11 hundredths of a second behind Pechito! Ma Qing Hua, too, made it through to Q3, but his joy was to be short-lived. Despite a lightning-fast tyre change, the Chinese driver was not allowed to make it onto the track, the time allotted by the regulations proving too tight.
Yvan Muller secured his first pole position of the year
It was Yvan Muller who took control of the battle for pole position, with a flawless lap timed at 1:48.848. Hugo Valente clocked the second-fastest time. Despite two minor errors, José María López took third place ahead of Sébastien Loeb.
What they had to say
Yvan Muller: “I’m happy to have got my first pole position of 2015 under my belt. It’s down to a combination of a good car, effective teamwork and the confidence I felt driving my Citroën C-Elysée WTCC. On this circuit, it’s almost impossible to put together three perfect sectors, but my first two were really good and I was pleasantly surprised by my time. It augurs well for tomorrow.”
José María López: “I was quick in the rain this morning, but I knew Yvan would perform really well in qualifying, particularly on a dry track. He did a great job, so well done to him! As for me, I made two mistakes which put me out of contention. I’m still starting from the front row, though, which is a good result as far as the championship goes. I just hope that I can score enough points over the two races to keep a healthy lead in the overall standings.”
Sébastien Loeb: “The day finished better than it started. Coming off the track at the start of free practice cost me half an hour of driving. The team did a great job and I was able to take part in the second session to find my feet. The conditions changed for qualifying and I managed to get myself into Q3. I made a little mistake at the end of my warm-up lap. I came out a little too wide and my tyres got wet and dirty. I lost grip on the very first turn and I realised that my chances of pole had vanished.”
Ma Qing Hua: “I’m disappointed not to have been able to go out and compete in Q3. The regulations should be revised to avoid this kind of situation, which isn’t good for anyone. Starting from fifth on the grid in both races isn’t ideal on a circuit where it’s so difficult to overtake. But I’ll fight hard!”
Yves Matton: “Yvan has shown once again that he is the ‘Hungaroring Master’. Despite changing conditions throughout the day, he produced what I think we can call a perfect lap to claim pole position. Now that the compensation weights have taken effect, we have seen the gaps in performance narrow. That’s a sign that the regulations are working well! It’s a shame Ma Qing Hua didn’t get the chance to show what he could do in Q3.”
- Yvan Muller (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
- Hugo Valente (Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1)
- José María López (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
- Sébastien Loeb (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
- Ma Qing Hua (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
- Tiago Monteiro (Honda Civic WTCC)
- Rob Huff (Lada Vesta WTCC)
- Tom Coronel (Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1)
- Tom Chilton (Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1)
- Norbert Michelisz (Honda Civic WTCC)
- Mehdi Bennani (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)