Masterly Muller secures pole for Citroën!
The four-time World Champion produced a flawless lap to win the honour by just 0.04s.
Yvan Muller has clinched pole position at the Slovakia Ring, just as he did last year. Despite the 80kg of ballast he was required to carry in his Citroën C-Elysée WTCC, the four-time World Champion produced a flawless lap to win the honour by just 0.04s. José María López, meanwhile, finished third. These performances propel Citroën to the top of the Manufacturers’ World Championship.
Throughout the three free practice sessions, the Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs had produced some low-key performances. Driving on worn tyres, Yvan Muller and José María López were working on their setups with an eye on qualifying and the races, while also attempting to come to terms with the 80kg of ballast the regulations have imposed on their World Championship-winning cars.
Once they had slipped on a fresh set of tyres before qualifying, the Citroën Total team drivers were able to show what they were capable of. Having progressed to Q2, López and Muller pushed themselves a little harder to grab two of the five places available in Q3.
The final qualifying round saw Yvan Muller produce a magnificent lap. His time of 2m03.910s was enough to give him the upper hand over Rob Huff, who had been the first to go. And José María López, Nick Catsburg and Norbert Michelisz could not dislodge the man from Alsace, who duly notched up the 29th pole position of his FIA WTCC career!
López made a slight error in the second sector, costing him a few tenths of a second and relegating him to third place.
In MAC3, José María López, Yvan Muller and Mehdi Bennani produced a perfect performance to top the timing screens. The points accumulated in qualifying and MAC3 put Citroën at the top of the World Championship standings, four points ahead of their nearest rivals.
Tomorrow’s races at the Slovakia Ring will take place at 12.10 and 2.15 p.m.
What they had to say
Yves Matton (Team Principal, Citroën Racing): “According to the calculations done by our engineers in the run-up to this weekend, we were in with a shot of winning pole position, give or take a few tenths of a second. To achieve that, everyone would have to do a flawless job… and that’s exactly what happened! For the drivers, the difficulty was ignoring their times from free practice and trying to work out how the car would handle once they put on fresh tyres. Yvan put in an exceptional performance that was just reward for the whole team. Thanks to a great run by Mehdi Bennani, we also scored maximum points in MAC3, which is very satisfying.”
Yvan Muller (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC No. 68): “If my engineers tell me I could have gone even quicker on my Q3 lap, there’ll be trouble! I am as surprised as anyone by my time, but it is in line with the simulations we had done. I was pretty sceptical after free practice, but it turns out the engineers were right once again. They urged me to attack a little more, to try and shave off valuable hundredths on the turns and in my line… There’s no such thing as a perfect lap, but this one wasn’t far off.”
José María López (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC No. 37): “Your time in Q3 depends on your confidence, more than anything, and I think Yvan was a little more confident than I was today. Congratulations to him and to Nick Catsburg, who also went quicker than I did! The work we put in throughout free practice and before qualifying has borne fruit. I made a little mistake on turn no. 8 in Q3 which cost me four tenths. At this level, with the quality of opposition we are up against, you can’t get away with that. In any case, I think I’ve got good starting positions in both races. Our aim is to leave here leading the World Championship. From Hungary onwards, it will be another story.”
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