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Alain Menu takes pole at Suzuka

Chevrolet’s Alain Menu secured his second successive pole position in the World Touring Car Championship at Suzuka, after beating team-mates Yvan Muller and Rob Huff to the fastest time.

Click here for the full qualifying results.

By taking his third pole position of the season, Swiss racer Menu has helped Chevrolet to secure their third consecutive Manufacturer’s Championship in the WTCC. Menu beat Muller to pole by 0.065 seconds, with Huff third fastest 0.169 seconds behind.

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Another strong day for Chevrolet was made all the better thanks to Alex MacDowall putting his independent bamboo enfineering Chevrolet fourth fastest, only 0.321 seconds off pole position.

Morocco’s Mehdi Bennani equalled his best-ever qualifying performance in the WTCC by going fifth fastest and as the top BMW driver, with Gabriele Tarquini sixth fastest.

Tom Coronel, who won the second race at Suzuka in 2011, was seventh fastest – the Dutchman improving on recent poor qualifying performances in the USA. Lining up alongside him will be Russian Alexei Dudukalo who once again made it into the top ten in his Lukoil-entered SEAT.

Pepe Oriola was ninth fastest and will have fellow Yokohama Independent Trophy driver Stefano D’Aste alongside him. The duo will therefore start race two from the front of the grid, with D’Aste taking his third reverse-grid pole position of the season.

Much of the attention this weekend is on Tiago Monteiro and the new works-entered Honda Civic. Monteiro qualified in a respectable 11th position, 1.001 seconds off the pace of Menu’s Chevrolet.  The JAS-prepared car is already showing good potential on its first-ever appearance in the series, with Monteiro lapping seventh fastest in Q1. Alongside the Portugese on the grid will be Darryl O’Young, who qualified in 12th on his return to bamboo engineering.

Missing out on Q2 were independent BMW drivers Franz Engstler and, for only the second time in 2012, Norbert Michelisz. The duo only narrowly missed out on a place in Q2 by 0.002 and 0.006 seconds respectively.

Tom Boardman was 15th fastest, ahead of Sunred’s Fernando Monje in 16th. The two local drivers making their annual appearance in the WTCC this weekend, Hiroki Yoshimoto and Masaki Kano, qualified in 17th and 23rd respectively.

Charles Kaki Ng returns to the scene of his debut in the WTCC 12 months ago and qualified in 18th, ahead of Team Aon’s James Nash in 19th, ROAL Motorsport’s Alberto Cerqui in 20th and Team Aon’s Tom Chilton in 21st.

Making his début in the series this weekend is German driver René Münnich, who is at the wheel of the second Special Tuning Racing SEAT León. The former Sportscar racer was 22nd fastest.

The first WTCC race from Japan takes place at 14:35 JST (06:35 BST, 07:35 CET) on Sunday.

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