REIGNING WORLD CHAMPION CLAIMS POLE POSITION Gabriele Tarquini claimed his eleventh WTCC pole position - the first of the season for him - taking the top spot for SR-Sport on the streets of Marrakech with a 1:45.830 that improved the existing...
REIGNING WORLD CHAMPION CLAIMS POLE POSITION
Gabriele Tarquini claimed his eleventh WTCC pole position - the first of the season for him - taking the top spot for SR-Sport on the streets of Marrakech with a 1:45.830 that improved the existing lap record by nealy four seconds. The Italian dominated proceedings in Morocco today, topping both practice sessions and taking pole by over half a second from the rest of the field.
Following a qualfying session filled with action and red flags, Chevrolet's Rob Huff (1:46.364) will start alongside him on the front row with SR-Sport team mate Jordi Gene (1:46.375) in third.
Franz Engstler (1:48.027) was the quickest Independent in ninth while Michel Nykjær (1:46.375) was the top rookie in sixth after the final red flag of the day. Rookie Challenge racer, Michelisz was quickest in Q1 but crashed out and was unable to start Q2.
Q1 - In an extended 30-minute Q1, given when racing on street circuits, the cars took to the track with Chevrolet's Huff quickly getting on the pace.
Gene was quick to respond in his SEAT Leon TDI before Yvan Muller posted his quickest time of the session to move ahead.
Muller led as the red flag came out when his Chevrolet team mate Alain Menu crashed into the wall exiting Turn 14. Menu was on a quick lap, having just set the fastest sector 2 time so far, when he spun across the circuit hitting the barrier. Michelisz narrowly avoided hitting the Chevrolet Cruze while also on a quick lap on new tyres.
When the session restarted, Tarquini jumped into P1 before posting a quicker time of 1:46.748 to remain at the top of the timesheets. As the clock ticked down he was demoted by Michelisz, who recorded a 1:46.437 on new tyres. After posting the quickest time of the session however, the Hungarian youngster then crashed into the wall at Turn 3 bringing out the red flag again and ending the session early.
The BMW Team RBM cars of Augusto Farfus and Andy Priaulx were both caught out by the action as they dropped out of the top ten just before the session was red flagged. While Tom Coronel's final run allowed him to move up to eighth and advance into Q2.
After crashing out early, Menu will start 13th for Race 1 tomorrow while Mehdi Bennani will start 16th on the grid. The Moroccan crowds were also in good voice, cheering loudly from the stands for both Bennani and fellow Moroccan racer Ismaïl Sbaï.
Q2- After less than 5-minutes the session was halted by another red flag, this time due to oil on the track at Turn 2 left by Franz Engstler's BMW after hitting the wall.
When the green flag came out Tarquini was quick to get on the pace, moving up to P1 with a time of 1:46.830. Gene also put in a good lap to jump from fourth to second. As the cars slipstreamed through the streets, Huff put a great lap together to move from sixth to second with only a few minutes remaining.
The session was then stopped once more as Michel Nykjær crashed his SEAT Leon TDI into the wall through the chicane at Turn 10. The session did not restart meaning Tarquini had another comfortable lead, this time 0.534s, ahead of Huff and Gene.
Tiago Monteiro finished fourth with a best time of 1:46.696 ahead of Muller. Coronel (1:47.044) will line up seventh in his SEAT Leon TDI. It was an impressive showing from the rookies with three, Michelisz, Fredy Barth and Nykjær making it into the top ten for tomorrow's Race of Morocco. Despite crashing out, Nykjær (1:46.751) will start sixth while Barth's time of 1:48.027 was good enough for eighth. With the Zengo-Dension Team unable to repair the earlier damage, Michelisz will start from P10 despite being fastest in Q1.
Franz Engstler (1:48.994) was the best of the Independents and will start ninth. After clipping the wall early in Q2 he pitted with damage and did not restart after the first red flag.