WTCC Champion Lopez Claims Pole Position on Macau Debut

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Jose Maria Lopez - Photo Credit: Citroen Racing
Jose Maria Lopez - Photo Credit: Citroen Racing

World Touring Car Champion Jose Maria Lopez demonstrated his class by claiming his seventh pole position of the season for the Macau finale on his first ever appearance on the challenging street circuit.

The Argentinian had been quickest in the second segment of qualifying and then finished the Q3 single-lap shootout with a margin of 0.228s over Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb.

Loeb has been showing off his own rally-style approach to the tight Melco hairpin, and his skills were enough to beat relative Macau veteran Yvan Muller to P2.

“I will remember this pole position for a long time,” said Lopez. “Macau is a circuit I have been wanting to discover for over ten years. But I never raced here in F3. 

“I did a lot of work on a simulator before I got here, but it’s a circuit that takes more time to adapt to than others. Seb and Yvan put me under pressure once again, but I’m delighted to have clocked the fastest time today.”

Former Macau race winner Norbert Michelisz put his privately-run Honda Civic into the best-of-the-rest slot of P4, while Tom Coronel also put his ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet into Q3 but failed to set a time after contact with the barriers, leaving him fifth.

Castrol Honda drivers Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro failed to make the most of the speed they had shown on Thursday and were knocked out in Q2 in sixth and seventh places respectively.

Six-time Macau winner Rob Huff put his Lada an impressive eighth ahead of the Chevrolets of Tom Chilton and Hugo Valente, who edged out Citroen driver Ma Qing Hua for the reverse grid race two pole position.

Valente’s Campos Racing team-mate Pepe Oriola – standing in for the injured Dusan Borkovic to make his only appearance of the season – had a nightmare day. After promising pace on Thursday, he crashed in free practice two at the start of the day and then again early in Q1, leaving him at the back of the grid if the team can repair his car.

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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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