LADA scored a sensational 1-2-3 result in qualifying for the World Touring Car Championship at the Moscow Raceway, with Nicky Catsburg heading team-mates Gabriele Tarquini and Hugo Valente in the wet.
Catsburg was on fine form throughout the entire session, topping all three segments of qualifying and ending up with his first pole, and the first for a Dutchman in the WTCC, by a comfortable 1.438 seconds.
Tarquini was second fastest, with Valente in third, completing the perfect result for LADA at their home round of the championship in Russia.
Münnich Motorsport’s James Thompson provided the closes challenge in fourth, hauling his Chevrolet to a Q3 appearance on his third outing in the car this season to keep the pressure on his former employer.
Honda’s Norbert Michelisz was the only driver in the top six in the championship to make it through to Q3, ending up 3.635 seconds off the pace.
Citroën’s José María López, who inherited a clear 91-point championship lead on Friday with confirmation of Honda’s exclusion from the rounds in Morocco, was sixth fastest, just missing out on Q3. Incredibly, it is just the second time the Argentine has missed out on the final section of qualifying, the only other occasion being on his WTCC début in 2013.
ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel was an impressive seventh fastest, ahead of the second works’ Citroën of Yvan Muller in eighth.
Independent Citroën driver Mehdi Bennani and Honda’s Tiago Monteiro completed the top ten, this taking the reverse-grid front row for Sunday’s Opening Race.
LADA were denied the chance for a near-perfect day in the Manufacturers’ Against the Coock (MAC3) time trial, as Honda edged out the Russian marque with a time of 4 minutes 5.004 seconds.
It was a penalty for a jump start for LADA’s Gabriele Tarquini which ultimately denied them the chance to also top MAC3, which they would have done by seven tenths of a second if it wasn’t for the Italian’s mistake.
Citroën came home a relatively distant third, which then became second with LADA’s penalty, over three and a half seconds off the pace as Tom Chilton joined the works’ duo in MAC3 for the first time.
Top ten times
|1||10||Nicky CATSBURG||LADA Sport Rosneft||LADA Vesta WTCC||3||1:57.722|
|2||2||Gabriele TARQUINI||LADA Sport Rosneft||LADA Vesta WTCC||3||1:59.160||1.438|
|3||7||Hugo VALENTE||LADA Sport Rosneft||LADA Vesta WTCC||3||2:00.201||2.479|
|4||15||James THOMPSON||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1||3||2:01.141||3.419|
|5||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda Civic WTCC||3||2:01.357||3.635|
|The following times are from Q2|
|6||37||José María LÓPEZ||Citroën Total WTCC||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||5||2:00.561||2.637|
|7||9||Tom CORONEL||ROAL Motorsport||Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1||5||2:00.826||2.902|
|8||68||Yvan MULLER||Citroën Total WTCC||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||5||2:00.882||2.958|
|9||25||Mehdi BENNANI||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||5||2:00.942||3.018|
|10||18||Tiago MONTEIRO||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda Civic WTCC||5||2:01.073||3.149|