The qualifying session for the World Touring Car Championship season finale at Macau had to come to a premature end as darkness fell on Friday. The 30-minute Q1 session was affected by four red flags, which caused it to run for almost two hours. With light becoming a problem the Race Director called it a day with two minutes left to run. The Q2 shootout will now take place on Saturday morning.
Soon after the session had started Tom Coronel hit the barrier at Fishermen's Bend. Although the Dutchman managed to limp back to the pits, the session was stopped to allow the barrier to be repaired. The session restarted just under an hour later, with Coronel rejoining the session after his SR-Sport team repaired the damage.
Soon after the session was restarted Andy Priaulx hit the barrier at R Bend, losing his front-left wheel in the process. He dragged the car back to the pits as the red flags came out again, Masaki Kano having spun his Team Engstler BMW at Turn 1 and got stranded in the middle of the circuit.
Kristian Poulsen was the next driver to bring out the red flags, after he hit the barrier at Paiol, leaving his BMW stranded in the middle of the circuit. Fellow Independent BMW driver Sergio Hernandez then arrived on the scene and hit the wall trying to avoid.
With light fading fast it was Yvan Muller who went to the top of the timesheets, beating Chevrolet teammate Rob Huff to first place. Coronel stopped out on track, which signalled the end of the session. Of the drivers through to Q2, Tiago Monteiro set the third fastest time, ahead of Alain Menu, Norbert Michelisz, Independents' Trophy contender Darryl O'Young and Gabriele Tarquini. Priaulx, teammate Augusto Farfus and local hero Andre Couto rounded out the top ten.
Muller said: “This is Macau! We must be prepared for such happenings when we race here. It was nice, I used the break of the first red flag to take a nap inside my car and then I was fresh to restart. I could have improved my time earlier, but I had to abort my lap because of the third red flag. When the session resumed I was the first out of the pit and it paid off as immediately after I set the fastest lap the session was stopped for good.”
O'Young said: “I'm obviously very pleased I made the top-ten for Q2. However, my result could have been better, because when Tom crashed the red flag spoiled my lap which was in the 2:32s.”
Priaulx commented: “We were trying to get the one extra second in qualifying that our car currently doesn't have. I was closely following Augusto and went a bit wide. Wide enough to hit the barrier.”
Coronel added: “I am surprised because I was not on the limit. I was tailing Andy Priaulx's car, so maybe I lost drag at the front. After I hit the barrier I thought it was just a little touch. It's a shame, because I had played safe all day, being fast without the need of taking risks. I believe that the second crash could be a consequence of the first one, because I lost the car without notice.”