Nurburgring WTCC: Lopez obliterates lap record to clinch pole

Two-time WTCC champion Jose Maria Lopez claimed pole position for the main race at the Nurburgring Nordschleife with a time of 8m35.541s, over 3.5s clear over his Citroen teammate Yvan Muller.

Nurburgring WTCC: Lopez obliterates lap record to clinch pole

Lopez managed to set three laps during the 60-minute session, each time emerging as the fastest of the group.

The Citroen driver saved his best to last producing a lap two seconds faster than his own record from 2015 in the Citroen C-Elysee WTCC.

A slew of improvements came on the final run, with ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel reproducing his impressive form from recent events, with the Dutchman qualifying third.

Coronel ended the best of the independent drivers and also the best-placed of the four drivers in the field which are also taking part in the Nurburgring 24 Hours this weekend.

Norbert Michelisz was the top Honda driver in fourth, albeit five seconds from Lopez’s pace, while Tom Chilton was the fastest of the Sebastien Loeb Racing-run Citroens in fifth position.

Nicky Catsburg, also competing in the 24 Hours this weekend qualified in sixth, though the Lada driver’s second lap run was disrupted by a crash at Antoniusbuche for teammate Hugo Valente with an apparent mechanical failure.

The Frenchman would qualify down in 13th, and with heavy damage to his car, this means the Russian marque will be forced to miss the MAC3 time trial event after qualifying.

Thed Bjork put in a late improvement to qualify seventh in his Volvo S60, just ahead of Rob Huff, who will start from the back of the grid for the opening race due to an engine change penalty.

For the opening race, Tiago Monteiro will start from pole position in his Honda Civic courtesy of the top ten reversed grid, with the Citroen of Mehdi Bennani alongside him.

Neil Hudson / TouringCarTimes

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