Rob Huff moved a step closer to winning the World Touring Car Championship title in Macau this weekend by taking a dominant pole position in qualifying for the season finale.
The British driver broke the lap record with his first attempt in the Q2 segment, with a 2m29.422s. Although his second attempt as the checkered flag fell was ‘only’ a 2m29.732s, he still finished the session 0.722s and 1.066s respectively ahead of Chevrolet teammates and title contenders Yvan Muller and Alain Menu. The five points awarded for pole mean Huff is now 37 points ahead of Menu and 42 ahead of Muller with 25 available for the win in each of Sunday’s races.
Gabriele Tarquini was the best of the rest in his last qualifying session in a SEAT after seven years driving the Spanish marque’s Leon model. Next year he switches to Honda to partner Tiago Monteiro, who gave the new Civic its best qualifying result yet in fifth. Darryl O’Young claimed the Yokohama Trophy pole in sixth in his bamboo engineering Chevrolet, which was repaired by his team after a hefty testing accident on Thursday.
Yokohama Trophy points leader Norbert Michelisz took a crucial seventh ahead of fellow BMW driver Mehdi Bennani and Michelisz’s nearest rival Pepe Oriola. Alex MacDowall was tenth in the second bamboo Cruze and will start Race 2 from the reverse grid pole. The Cumbrian was ahead of the third Trophy title contender Stefano D’Aste, who has work to do to extend his three-race class-winning streak, while Franz Engstler completed the runners in Q2.
Tom Coronel narrowly missed out on Q2 in 13th place. The Dutchman was sat on the cusp of the top 12 after a late red flag stoppage when Fredy Barth crashed, but was first held up on his final attempt by Bennani and then suffered driveshaft failure coming out of the Melco hairpin. Tom Boardman will line up 14th for both races ahead of Barth, who’s Sunred squad has a day off on Saturday with which to repair the Swiss driver’s damaged car. Aon Ford duo James Nash and Tom Chilton were 16th and 17th ahead of Aleksei Dudukalo, Charles Ng and top local and former F3 Grand Prix race-wnner Andre Couto, who’s session ended early when he crashed his SEAT shortly before Barth did.
Fernando Monje was the slowest of the regulars in 21st ahead of Kei Cozzolino, who has replaced Alberto Cerqui in the second ROAL BMW this weekend. Local contingent Jo Merzsei, Henry Ho, Celio Alves Dias and Eurico De Jesus, Filipe De Souza, Kin Veng Ng and Ka Lok Mak will have to start from the back, with many either having times disallowed for not stopping at scrutineering or failing to set a time within 107%, or both.