Alain Menu has taken pole position for the first race at Suzuka East circuit tomorrow (Sunday), with his championship rivals Yvan Muller, 2nd, and Rob Huff, 4th, split by the Volvo of Robert Dahlgren.
For the reverse grid for race two it is Darryl O’Young who will start from pole position, having set the tenth-quickest time in Q1. The Hong Kong driver will have Tom Coronel alongside him on the front row. Rob Huff in third starts as the best of the Chevrolet and championship contending drivers.
Qualifying for Race 1 – Alain Menu on pole again.
Round nineteen qualifying saw Alain Menu secure his third Pole Position of the season and for Chevrolet, their tenth Pole Position of the 2011 campaign.
Menu finished the session ahead of Chevrolet team-mate Yvan Muller and Robert Dahlgren in the Polestar Racing Volvo C30 Drive, while the third Championship Contender, Rob Huff, finished the session fourth.
The ten minute second part of qualifying went without any major incidents as all the drivers set their fastest times during their opening runs – a move which saw bamboo engineering’s Darryl O’Young finish his session with three minutes left on the clock.
Menu set his session topping time early in the session and his rivals weren’t able to match his time – Muller put the sister Chevrolet on the front row with two minutes left on the clock and Dahhlgren followed suit with one minute left on the clock, as he split the three Chevrolets. Just behind, ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel was moving up the order and finished fifth fastest.
Top Yokohama Independent runner was Michel Nykjaer in seventh, ahead of O’Young and the returning Colin Turkington in the Wiechers-Sport/Aviva BMW 320TC.
Qualifying for Race 2 – Darryl O’Young claims first reverse pole.
Qualifying for the second race of the Suzuka weekend saw the twenty minute session interrupted by two red flags, and it was Darryl O’Young who secured himself the reverse grid Pole Position having finished tenth fastest, with Coronel alongside the Hong Kong driver. Huff finished the best of the Championship contenders in eighth, which leaves him third on the grid for race two.
The session got underway with the threat of rain over the circuit, and within the opening five minutes, the red flags were brought out after the Proteam Racing BMW 320TC of Mehdi Bennani was stranded in the gravel at the cut through back to the start/finish straight. Tom Coronel was on top of the timers when the red flags were thrown to aid the recovery of the stricken car.
Once the session was back underway, a number of drivers improved their times and their positions – including Huff, Dahlgren and Menu, while Gabriele Tarquini in the Lukoil-SUNRED SUNRED SR 1.6T was left outside the top ten.
When the red flags were shown for the second time due to SUNRED’s Pepe Oriola going off and heavily into the wall on the exit of the final corner, ripping off the front left wheel. Michel Nykjaer in the SUNRED SR Leon 1.6T was on top of the times but he was soon demoted by Turkington, who finished the session ahead of Nykjaer and Tarquini, who had finally made it inside the top ten.
Further down the grid, Javi Villa was left just outside the top ten in eleventh while the sister bamboo engineering car of Yukinori Taniguchi finished twelfth fastest and secured his best qualifying result to date in the WTCC.
Top Independent driver on the grid will be O’Young while in the battle for the Independents Drivers’ title, Norbert Michelisz secured the upper hand over Kristian Poulsen, who finished fourteenth fastest, just behind the Hungarian in the Zengo-Dension Motorsport BMW 320TC.
Series debutant Charles Ng finished as the top Jay Ten Trophy contender in twenty second overall, 1.6s off the pace while Fabio Fabiani failed to meet the qualifying maxima time as he finished over four seconds off the pace.
Race one of the weekend is due to get underway at 06.35 BST while race two is due to start at 07.50 BST, with both races live on Eurosport.