ROB HUFF CLAIMS HIS FIRST POLE POSITION
Robert Huff will start the first of tomorrow’s two WTCC races at the Salzburgring from pole position, after setting the fastest time with less than a minute remaining on the clock. Huff’s first pole position of the 2012 season, with a lap time of 1:26.791, headed an all-Chevrolet top three, with Yvan Muller in second (1:26.933) and Alain Menu third (1:26.961). Compounding the strength of the Chevrolet challenge at the Austrian circuit, Alex MacDowall will start as the first of the Yokohama Trophy competitors from fifth on the grid in his bamboo-engineering Cruze.
The long straights at the Salzburgring were always going to see tactics employed to ensure drivers benefitted from the aerodynamic ‘tow’ from other cars and so it proved. All three of the Chevrolet drivers took turns to lead their teammates around the 4.2km circuit, with Muller eventually topping the timesheets ahead of Menu and Huff, while MacDowall made it an all-Chevrolet top four. Once again, the tight chicane at Turn 1 caused problems for several drivers, with Tom Coronel spinning his BMW on his fourth lap. With just over three minutes remaining, the red flags came out after the Ford Focus of Tom Chilton made contact with Franz Engstler’s BMW at T5; Chilton later making his way to the Liqui Moly Team Engstler garage to apologise.
Going through to Q2 were: Muller, Menu, Huff, MacDowall, Oriola, Coronel, Tarquini, Dudukalo, Bennani, O’Young, D’Aste, Monteiro. James Nash missed the cut by only 0.015 seconds.
Team tactics were once again employed by the three factory Chevrolet drivers, allowing each to benefit from the slipstream of his colleagues in turn. Although it was Alain Menu that was initially quickest, with only seconds remaining Robert Huff and Yvan Muller both eked out slender advantages over their teammate to complete the session with yet another Chevrolet 1-2-3. Gabriele Tarquini, who has been feeling unwell all weekend, will start as the best non-Chevrolet driver from fourth on the grid (1:27.490) ahead of MacDowall, Tiago Monteiro (1:27.808), Stefano D’Aste (1:27.927), Pepe Oriola (1:28.122), Tom Coronel (1:28.124) and Aleksei Dudukalo (1:28.317).
Thanks to the reversed grid, it will be the SEAT León of Dudukalo that will start Race 2 from pole position.
ETCC - ROUNDS 5 & 6
MONJE IS FASTEST, BUT NOT ON POLE
Thanks to a ten-place grid penalty after an incident in Slovakia, the SEAT León of Fernando Monje will start the first of tomorrow’s two ETCC races at the Salzburgring from 11th position, despite the Spanish driver setting a lap time that was over 1.5 seconds faster than anyone else. Monje (1:29.453) was the only driver to break the 1:31 barrier, but due to that penalty, pole position will be occupied by Igor Skuz - making his debut in a SEAT León TDI - who lapped the 4.2km circuit in 1:31.001. Third fastest in the Super 2000 category was the BMW of Petr Fulín (1:31.430) and so Fulín will line up in third place on the grid.
Despite Monje’s ten-place demotion, it will still be an all-SEAT front row, with second place on the grid alongside Skuz going to the leading entrant in the Single-Make Trophy, Andreas Pfister (1:31.301). Arriving in Austria, Pfister was in second place in the category, trailing Stian Paulsen by two points. Paulsen (1:31.812) will start Race 1 from fourth on the grid and will be hoping that Monje’s penalty will enable him to extend his lead.
In Super 1600, it was once Kevin Krammes in a Ford Fiesta who set the fastest time in Qualifying. His lap time of 1:41.706 was over a second quicker than Paolo Necchi in a similar car, but an engine change after the morning’s Free Practice means a ten-place penalty for Necchi. Ulrike Krafft, third fastest with a time of 1:43.057, also drops ten positions on the grid after picking up a penalty after the two races in Slovakia, and so it will be Ronny Reinsberger (1:43.347) who will line up alongside Krammes on the grid.
The Super Production category might only have two entrants, but it produced the closest battle of all four classes. In the end, it was Aleksander Tošić who set the quickest time, but by a mere six-thousandth of a second from Nikolay Karamyshev.