Alain Menu claimed his second consecutive World Touring Car Championship pole position by going quickest in qualifying for the first WTCC Race of China at Shanghai's Tianma Circuit.
Rob Huff qualified alongside his Swiss teammate for the first race, and will start the second race from pole after setting the tenth fastest time in Q1.
The first session took place on a damp but drying track. Tom Coronel would set the quickest time, ahead of Norbert Michelisz, Menu, Colin Turkington, Pepe Oriola, Tiago Monteiro, Yvan Muller, Fredy Barth and Gabriele Tarquini, with Huff squeezing through to Q2 in tenth and taking pole for Race 2.
The first of the drivers to miss out on Q2 were Yokohama Trophy points leader Kristian Poulsen, Proteam BMW driver Javier Villa and Robert Dahlgren in the Polestar Volvo.
In Q2, Menu was the first to set a quick lap, but Turkington then moved into first place. He was then shaded by Huff, before Menu returned to top spot to take pole.
Behind the top three of Menu, Huff and Turkington, Michelisz put his Zengo BMW fourth, just five thousandths quicker than Tarquini. Coronel was sixth, with points leader Muller only managing seventh after a mistake on his final attempt. The Sunred trio of Monteiro, Oriola and Barth completed the top ten.
“It was very difficult to qualify for Q2,” said Menu afterwards. “By the end of Q1 I was out of the top ten and I only managed to make the cut on my last attempt. In Q2 I did hesitate, thinking of using one set of tyre and waiting until the final moments. Instead I decided to go out early, which gave me the chance to make a second try just before the end.
“It was a good decision and I am very pleased, because on this track is difficult to overtake and starting from the pole means that I could be leading on the first lap. As I said I'm out of the championship fight and my only goal is to win races and finish the season as best as I can.”
Huff said: “I made a mistake during my first attempt in Q2 that would place me in fourth. It was a tough call, whether to stay out on the same set of slicks or to come in and get a second set. I finally took the decision to abort the second lap and go to the pits. Probably I went out a bit too early with the second set. It was good enough for pole position at that time, but in the end Alain was able to go faster.
“Anyway, I'm really happy, I'm second in the first race and on pole for the second. I admit I was lucky, because in Q1 I was in 11th position and, as I did not want to stay out again like in Hungary, I put in a very good lap and found myself in tenth.”
Turkington commented: “I am very pleased with the weekend so far. We have been competitive in every session. I think the team did a great job, Wiechers-Sport and WSR worked together to produce a very good car. Especially in Q2 it was perfect.
“It was not an easy qualifying, since the conditions in Q1 were very difficult for the BMW cars, with the track changing from wet to dry. I thought it was reasonable to enter the top-ten not too fast. It's not easy to say on a circuit like this, where sometimes you think to be faster while you are slower. But my lap in Q2 was very good and I don't think there was much margin left to improve and steal the pole from Menu.”