Tom Chilton takes surprise pole in Beijing

Tom Chilton takes surprise pole in Beijing

Photo by FIA WTCC Media

Photo by FIA WTCC MediaROAL Motorsport’s Tom Chilton took a surprise pole position in qualifying for the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) in Beijing, beating Honda’s Gabriele Tarquini to the top time in a session featuring no Citroën drivers on the front row.

Chilton was the fastest driver in the all-important Q3 session, pipping Tarquini to pole by just 0.032 seconds after the Italian admitted to making a small mistake on his single lap.

Citroën’s Yvan Muller was third fastest, also within a tenth of a second of Chilton but unable to go faster than his former team-mate. Championship leader José María López was fourth, unable to match the pace he had in Q2 which would have been good enough for pole.

Münnich Motorsport’s Gianni Morbidelli, who had on Saturday been the fastest Chevrolet driver in two of the three sessions, could only manage fifth fastest, just over half a second off the pace.

Zengő Motorsport’s Norbert Michelisz was the top driver to miss out on Q3, posting the sixth fastest time in his independent Honda. Sébastien Loeb was seventh, having missed out on entry into the final qualifying segment by two tenths of a second.

It was a good qualifying session for the LADA drivers, with both James Thompson (eighth) and Rob Huff (tenth) making it into Q2. Huff therefore starts race two from pole position, with ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel alongside him after the Dutchman was ninth fastest.

It turned out to be a poor qualifying session for Saturday’s pace-setter Tiago Monteiro. The Honda driver was only 11th in Q2, missing out on both Q3 and the reverse grid for race two after being more than a second off the pace. He will be joined on row six of the grid by Campos Racing’s Hugo Valente, who failed to make an impression.

Q1 was twice red-flagged. The first came when Liqui Moly Team Engstler’s Filipe Clemente de Souza went off at the final corner and beeched his BMW in the gravel. The second came after Campos Racing’s Dušan Borković lost control of his Chevrolet and spun onto the infield, dislodging his front splitter and requiring a tow back to the pits. He was thus only 16th fastest.

Franz Engstler again took class pole for TC2, with the Liqui Moly driver ahead of Campos Racing’s John Filippi and Michael Soong.

Race one takes place at 14:50 Beijing time (08:50 CEST, 07:50 BST) with race two to follow immediately after.

1 3 TC1 Tom CHILTON ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 3 1:04.321
2 2 TC1 Gabriele TARQUINI Castrol Honda WTC Team Honda Civic WTCC 3 1:04.353 0.032
3 1 TC1 Yvan MULLER Citroën Total WTCC Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 3 1:04.411 0.090
4 37 TC1 José María LÓPEZ Citroën Total WTCC Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 3 1:04.776 0.455
5 10 TC1 Gianni MORBIDELLI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 3 1:04.840 0.519
The below times are from Q2:
6 5 TC1 Norbert MICHELISZ Zengő Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC 6 1:04.788 0.467
7 9 TC1 Sébastien LOEB Citroën Total WTCC Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 7 1:04.872 0.551
8 11 TC1 James THOMPSON LADA Sport LADA Granta 1.6T 7 1:04.937 0.616
9 4 TC1 Tom CORONEL ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 7 1:04.937 0.616
10 12 TC1 Rob HUFF LADA Sport LADA Granta 1.6T 7 1:05.019 0.698

Complete session results