Gabriele Tarquini secured Pole Position for Sunday’s Race One at Okayama, holding off the BMWs of Andy Priaulx and Jorg Muller in the process.
This was the SEAT driver’s third consecutive pole, and is certainly helping his championship challenge through his recent good run of form.
“I was surprised to get pole,” Tarquini said. “I was helped by [Jordi] GenÃ© who gave me a good slipstream. We know BMW have a better race pace so I don't think I will keep the front position but I must score points and finish both races.”
Thankfully for him though said BMWs are not even in the title race, with team-mate Yvan Muller and another BMW driver, Augusto Farfus now the only threat to taking his maiden WTCC title, after last winning the European Touring Car Championship back in 2004.
Yvan Muller doesn’t look much of a threat from 7th on the grid, and Farfus starts directly in front of him on the grid in 5th. But team orders during the race could change the complexion of the results entirely.
Farfus’ rear-wheel drive from his BMW 320si will likely help jump the only other SEAT in the Top 5, Rickard Rydell, and with only BMW team-mates to pass from there, at least a second place looks to be on the cards, if not first should he find a way past Tarquini.
Tom Coronel took the Independent’s Class Pole, and 12th overall on the grid. Luckily for him, his nearest title rival Felix Porteiro is down in 15th, with James Thompson‘s Lada and Nicola Larini‘s Chevy sandwiched inbetween them.
Nobuteru Taniguchi was the fastest local driver in his Proteam Motorsport BMW, taking 18th place, and was closely followed by fellow Japanese series newcomer and vastly experienced GT driver Seji Ara in the Weichers Sport BMW, taking 20th.
Pos Driver Car Q1 Q2 1. Gabriele Tarquini SEAT 1m38.168s 1m37.666s 2. Andy Priaulx BMW 1m38.117s 1m37.716s 3. Jorg Muller BMW 1m37.914s 1m37.726s 4. Rickard Rydell SEAT 1m38.149s 1m37.799s 5. Augusto Farfus BMW 1m38.323s 1m37.826s 6. Jordi Gene SEAT 1m38.017s 1m37.835s 7. Yvan Muller SEAT 1m38.255s 1m37.978s 8. Tiago Monteiro SEAT 1m38.202s 1m38.119s 9. Rob Huff Chevrolet 1m38.900s 1m38.620s 10. Alain Menu Chevrolet 1m38.460s 1m39.110s 11. Sergio Hernandez BMW 1m39.043s 12. Tom Coronel SEAT 1m39.078s 13. James Thompson Lada 1m39.106s 14. Nicola Larini Chevrolet 1m39.126s 15. Felix Porteiro BMW 1m39.159s 16. Alex Zanardi BMW 1m39.186s 17. Stefano D'Aste BMW 1m39.395s 18. Norbertu Taniguchi BMW 1m39.469s 19. Jaap van Lagen Lada 1m39.498s 20. Seiji Ara BMW 1m39.549s 21. Joao Paulo de Oliveira SEAT 1m39.643s 22. Franz Engstler BMW 1m39.672s 23. Tom Boardman SEAT 1m39.823s 24. Kristian Poulsen BMW 1m40.112s 25. Kirill Ladygin Lada 1m40.786s 26. Henry Ho BMW 1m41.536s 27. Masaki Kano BMW 1m42.427s