The three Chevrolet drivers all expressed different reactions to their qualifying efforts today after both Alain Menu and Rob Huff secured pole positions but points leader Yvan Muller struggled.
In the Q1 session it was Huff who secured pole position for the second race, in which the top ten from the first half of qualifying are reversed. However it was a tense moment for Huff who was at risk of being demoted to 11th and out of qualifying altogether. Luckily no drivers further down the order improved their times, handing Huff pole position.
Menu will start the second race from eighth, with Muller lining up on the second row of the grid in fourth.
Q2 saw Menu set the pace – repeating his performance just two weeks ago in Japan. The Swiss racer took his 11th career pole – moving to the top of the all-time table – to boost his hopes of remaining in championship contention on race day.
“I am very happy with how this Asian tour is going for me so far,” said Menu. “Another pole after the one at Suzuka is excellent news and I will try to stay in front tomorrow and bring home another win. The car was perfect today and being ahead is definitely an advantage on this track.”
Huff was just 0.145 seconds off Menu’s pace in Q2 and his championship chances are given a further boost as Muller could only manage seventh in the second half of qualifying, the Frenchman suffering an off on his final flying lap. The result from qualifying gives Huff the upper hand in closing the 13-point deficit to Muller tomorrow (Sunday).
Huff, starting 2nd and 1st, was extremely pleased to be starting ahead of Muller for both races around the Tianma Circuit.
“I am, of course, very happy with today’s results,” said Huff. “If there was a place and a moment where I really needed two first row starts, this is here and now! Q1 was completely hectic, with positions changing all the time and I was very lucky to get P10 which means the pole for Race 2. I have to thank my engineer, who was perfect in keeping me updated via radio. The car went very well in Q2 as well, I did my time pretty early and even thought it could have been the pole, but obviously Alain was faster!”
In contrast to his two team-mates reactions Muller was not pleased with his qualifying performances, with the reigning champion starting from 7th and 4th respectively.
“It was a difficult session and I am not very happy with the results,” said Muller. “Today, we were not very successful in managing the sets of new tires. In Q2, I had to abort my quick lap attempt and then the tires were gone. Tomorrow, I’ll try to bring home as many points as possible, but it is going to be difficult to climb positions on such a short and narrow track.”