Michelisz And Dudukalo Make A Surprise Front Row In Slovakia

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Norbert Michelisz - Photo Credit: WTCC Media

Michelisz took his and Zengo's first pole in a session full of surprises - Photo Credit: WTCC Media

The World Touring Car Championship's first race in Slovakia will see an all-Eastern European front row after Norbert Michelisz and Aleksei Dudukalo claimed the top two spots in a surprising qualifying session.

It was the Hungarian driver's first pole position, the first for his small Zengo Motorsport team, and the first for a BMW since late 2010. He finished up just 0.086 seconds clear of Russian Dudukalo, who narrowly outqualified his more experienced Lukoil SEAT teammate and mentor Gabriele Tarquini.

It was a session of personal bests for many, with Team Aon and James Nash scoring their best qualifying result of fourth, as they backed up their free practice pace. He edged out Tiago Monteiro by just five thousandths of a second, the Portuguese ace taking an impressive fifth in his Leon powered by the Sunred turbo engine.

Chevrolet failed to get any of their cars into the top five, with championship leader Yvan Muller the best of the trio of factory drivers in sixth, with Rob Huff in seventh. Pepe Oriola had posted the fastest time in free practice in his SEAT, but finished qualifying in eighth place and nearly seven tenths off pole.

Alain Menu was ninth in the last of the RML-run Chevrolets, with Stefano D'Aste completing the top ten. The Italian independent will start race two from pole, with all three Chevrolets well placed and in the top five.

Nash's teammate Tom Chilton also made it through to Q2 and finished 11th, with Alberto Cerqui taking 12th.

Cerqui's ROAL Motorsport teammate Tom Coronel was the big casualty in Q1, just missing out in 13th place. Franz Engstler found the gravel right at the end of Q1, bringing out the red flags and stopping Coronel as he was on a quick lap.

Engstler will line up alongside Coronel for both races in 14th, ahead of the similar BMW of Mehdi Bennani and the Special Tuning Racing SEAT of Darryl O'Young. Alex MacDowall took 17th place ahead of bamboo engineering teammate Pasquale di Sabatino. The BMWs of Charles Ng and Gabor Weber will share the next row, while Tom Boardman returned to the pits without setting a time.

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Peter joined the TCF team in September 2010 and covers GP2 and GP3 along with WTCC and Formula Two. You can find him on twitter at @PeteAllen_
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