Morocco WTCC: Huff leads Honda 1-2-3 in intense qualifying

Rob Huff took pole position at Marrakech in an extremely tense qualifying session ahead of teammates Norbert Michelisz and Tiago Monteiro, forming a Honda 1-2-3 for Sunday's main race.

Morocco WTCC: Huff leads Honda 1-2-3 in intense qualifying
Norbert Michelisz, Honda Racing Team JAS, Honda Civic WTCC
Tiago Monteiro, Honda Racing Team JAS, Honda Civic WTCC
Tiago Monteiro, Honda Racing Team JAS, Honda Civic WTCC
José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
Thed Björk, Polestar Cyan Racing, Volvo S60 Polestar TC1
John Filippi, Campos Racing, Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
Mehdi Bennani, Sébastien Loeb Racing, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
Nicky Catsburg, LADA Sport Rosneft, Lada Vesta
Tom Coronel, Roal Motorsport, Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
Tom Chilton, Sébastien Loeb Racing, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC

Championship leader Jose Maria Lopez looked strong in the first sector on his fastest lap, but ultimately had to settle for fourth after damaging his car in the second sector.

In Q1, Huff led the way ahead of Lopez, who disrupted the Hondas with Monteiro finishing third.

Nicky Catsburg improved to fourth on his last run, with the Lada driver having been previously overtaken by Michelisz, but the Hungarian had his lap disallowed due to a track limits infringement and was brought back down to fifth.

Yvan Muller, who sat outside the vital top 12 cut-off for most of the session, managed to climb up to sixth ahead of Thed Bjork, who had also looked at risk of being knocked out.

Gabriele Tarquini finished eighth ahead of top-placed independent Tom Coronel in the ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze, with James Thompson in tenth.

The returning Brit took pole for opening race, as late improver Tom Chilton finished 11th in his Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen.

Hugo Valente was the last driver to qualify for the second segment of the session in 12th, with local hero Mehdi Bennani a surprise casualty at his home race.

Q2 saw an intense battle, with the Hondas initially claiming a 1-2-3 before Lopez improved his lap time to take over at the top of the time sheets.

The Argentinian finished the session ahead of the three Honda drivers, with Michelisz ahead of Monteiro and Huff.

Catsburg finished the session in fifth, the last available spot to make it to Q3, while Muller just missed out on the final shootout, finsihing sixth just 0.011s shy of the Lada driver.

Coronel was the fastest independent in seventh, ahead of Volvo's Bjork, with Valente in ninth to form the provisional front row in the reversed-grid opening race alongside Thompson.

Q3 was incredibly tight, with only Catsburg slightly off the pace as he set a 1m22.161s that was only good enough for fifth.

Huff was the second driver to join the track and set an unbeatable 1m21.743s, although both teammates Monteiro and Michelisz finished within little more than a tenth from the pole sitter.

Last out on track was Lopez, who initially was more than a tenth faster than Huff, but lost ground in the second sector to claim fourth at the end of the lap.

Pietro Casillo / TouringCarTimes

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