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José María López storms to pole in Moscow

Citroën’s José María López claimed his third World Touring Car Championship pole position of the season at Moscow Raceway, beating the Honda duo of Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro into second and third.

López’s effort of 1:38.651 means he has now claimed half of the available pole positions in 2014, and saw him clinch pole by 0.226 from Italian Tarquini, who sealed his second race one front row start of the season.

With Monteiro in third, Sebastien Loeb was a quiet fourth in the second Citroën, while Tom Chilton completed the Q3 runners as Yvan Muller failed to progress to the shootout.

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A sharp shower before the qualifying session left the track damp in places and with some of the rubber put down earlier in the day having been washed out, the drivers initially struggled to keep their cars on the track when qualifying one got started, with Gianni Morbidelli taking a spin and bringing out a yellow flag briefly before returning to the pits.

It took some time for the pecking order to fully develop, with a number of drivers electing to save their efforts until the final five minutes of the session.

Dušan Borković was the first to buck that trend as he initially went fourth having only turned a handful of laps on the circuit, with Citroen new-boy Ma Qing Hua settling into his first qualifying session with 11th.

The session came alive thereafter, with the LADA’s of James Thompson, Mikhail Koslovskiy and Rob Huff progressively knocked out as others around them improved. Thompson had readied himself for a final attempt but a slide on the exit of turn one put pay to his hopes of making it into Q2.

Morbidelli also missed out after outbreaking himself into the final corner before a broken front splitter put him out of contention, as he was faster only than the TC2 cars, headed by Franz Engstler. Tom Coronel was also a casualty, as the penultimate lap of the session from Rene Munnich bumped the ROAL Motorsport driver out of the second session.

The second session also took time to get going, with Borković unable to set a time as he suffered with break problems. Tarquini, who had set the pace in qualifying one, set the benchmark again with a 1:28.872, which was just eclipsed by López, who went four-thousandths-of-a-second faster than his rival.

Muller went off track on one of his runs and appeared to be struggling with his car, his problems confirmed as a late lap from Monteiro meant that he advanced to the final five shootout alongside Lopez and Tarquini, Loeb and Chilton, with the Frenchman furious after his early exit.

Hugo Valente qualified in tenth and will start the second race of the day from pole, with Ma in ninth in the fourth Citroën.

Monteiro set the first lap of third qualifying, and his 1:39.166 left him in contention for pole position, as Chilton and Loeb were both unable to eclipse his effort, the Honda seemingly well planted. That was confirmed when Tarquini took provisional pole from his teammate, a 1:38.877 putting him at the top of the times.

But López was not to be denied, as he mastered his C-Elysée to claim pole with an emphatic lap, breaking the track record in the process.

Top ten times

1 37 TC1 José María LÓPEZ Citroën Total WTCC Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 3 1:38.651 0.000
2 2 TC1 Gabriele TARQUINI Castrol Honda WTC Team Honda Civic WTCC 3 1:38.877 0.226
3 18 TC1 Tiago MONTEIRO Castrol Honda WTC Team Honda Civic WTCC 3 1:39.166 0.515
4 9 TC1 Sébastien LOEB Citroën Total WTCC Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 3 1:39.580 0.929
5 3 TC1 Tom CHILTON ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 3 1:39.698 1.047
The below times are from Q2:
6 1 TC1 Yvan MULLER Citroën Total WTCC Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 5 1:39.575 0.743
7 25 TC1 Mehdi BENNANI Proteam Racing Honda Civic WTCC 4 1:39.715 0.883
8 5 TC1 Norbert MICHELISZ Zengő Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC 5 1:40.001 1.169
9 33 TC1 MA Qing Hua Citroën Total WTCC Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 5 1:40.092 1.260
10 7 TC1 Hugo VALENTE Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 3 1:40.312 1.480

Complete session results

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