RML’s Yvan Muller dominated qualifying for the World Touring Car Championship in Argentina, beating team-mate Tom Chilton to pole position by more than half a second at the Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo.
Championship leader Muller was never headed throughout the qualifying session, immediately posting the fastest lap in Q1 before retiring to the pits to wait for Q2.
Such was the Frenchman’s control of the session that, when required in Q2, he was able to produce a lap 1.2 seconds faster than in the preceding qualifying segment, being forced to complete a second qualifying run as the other drivers sought the benefits of mass slipstreaming.
Chilton once again finished the session in second, 0.503 seconds off Muller despite posting the fastest first sector of all on his final flying lap. Zengő Motorsport’s Norbert Michelisz finished the session third fastest and as the top Honda driver.
Gabriele Tarquini in the works Honda was fourth fastest, despite having issues during Q1 which meant that he had to leave it until the very end of the 20 minute session to post a time.
Pepe Oriola was fifth fastest on his second weekend in the Tuenti Racing Chevrolet, ahead of the bamboo-engineering Chevrolet of Alex MacDowall. The Brit had originally been fourth fastest after the first round of flying laps but lost out to Chilton and Tarquini at the end of the session.
The second works’ Honda of Tiago Monteiro was seventh, although will be forced to start race one from the back of the grid due to an engine change on his Honda Civic. Eighth and ninth were the bamboo-engineering and Nika Racing Chevrolet’s of James Nash and Michel Nykjær respectively.
Local driver José María López qualified his Wiechers-Sport BMW in tenth, meaning that the Argentinian will start race two from pole position – the first for a South American in the series since Augusto Farfus in Germany in 2010.
Campos Racing’s Hugo Valente and LADA’s James Thompson just missed out on pole for race two, qualifying in 11th and 12th respectively.
Notable names to fail to make the Q2 cut included Rob Huff, who was 14th, and Tom Coronel, who was 16th. Huff, who had further issues at the start of qualifying, has been forced to have a change of engine on his Münnich Motorsport SEAT and will start race one from last. Coronel, in 16th, was the second-best BMW driver, further highlighting López’s strong performance in an unfamiliar car.
Round 15 takes place at 18:20 BST on Sunday 4th August (19:20 CEST; 14:20 ART).