Touring car debutant Fernando Monje claimed pole position for the first European Touring Car Cup race at Monza, with a margin of over one second to his nearest rival.
Former Spanish Formula 3 racer Monje is contesting the ETC Cup in a SUNRED Engineering SEAT Leon TDI, and will also do all non-clashing WTCC rounds this year.
“I'm very happy and I want to thank the team for doing a great job, but I also want to congratulate Gabriele Tarquini and Pepe Oriola for their performances in the WTCC qualifying,” said 19-year-old Monje.
“We will have to maintain the tyres in the races tomorrow because for sure they won't be at their best towards the end, but I'm confident I can do well here and so I'm really looking forward to the races.”
Czech driver Petr Fulin was the nearest driver to Monje in his Krenek Motorsport BMW.
“I think it will be very difficult because the SEAT TDi is so strong, but I hope that the performance of the tyres in the races will help me have a good performance tomorrow,” said Fulin. “This is not only my first time in the ETCC, but my first experience of the BMW and I have enjoyed every stint so far. I have to say that I'm really looking forward to the races tomorrow.”
Next up was Stian Poulsen, the Norwegian claiming third overall and pole in the single-make class, albeit 2.246s away from Monje. He pipped fellow SEAT Leon Supercopa driver Andreas Pfister.
Fifth and sixth places went to Honda Civic driver Peter Rikli and Engstler BMW driver Igor Skuz, with Alfa Romeo driver Ferenc Ficza seventh. All three were over three seconds away from pole.
Aleksandar Tosic took pole in the Super Production class, where he is reigning champion. Rival and WTCC regular Fabio Fabiani was denied from taking part by the stewards for having a non-conforming fuel tank.
The closest battle is in the S1600 class, where Kevin Krammes took pole ahead of fellow Ford Fiesta drivers Gilles Bruckner and Ulrikke Krafft.