Esteban Guerrieri secured his first-ever pole position in the World Touring Car Championship in Qatar, as Honda team-mate Norbert Michelisz saw his title hopes dealt a blow due to brake failure leaving him in 11th for both races.
Guerrieri flew to the best time in Q3, putting his Honda on top by over four tenths ahead of Polestar Cyan Racing’s Nicky Catsburg in second.
Münnich Motorsport’s Rob Huff was unable to follow up on his Macau pole and had to settle for third, but still the top independent and Citroën driver.
Volvo’s Thed Björk took two more points by qualifying in fourth to extend his championship lead to 8.5 points ahead of Friday evening’s title-deciding races, as chief rival Michelisz suffered with mechanical issues.
Michelisz ultimately managed just one lap in Q2, only good enough for 11th, after suffering from brake issues which the JAS Motorsport Honda outfit were unable to rectify in the ten-minute Q2 window.
That leaves the Hungarian starting both night races from 11th on the grid, having missed out on the reverse-grid top ten for the Opening Race, and giving him a huge uphill task in order to claim the title later in the day.
The returning Yvan Muller ensured that all three Polestar Volvos made it into the final Q3 qualifying shootout, with the Frenchman posting the fifth best time, exactly one second off the pole position time.
Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Tom Chilton just missed out on the cut for entry into Q3, leaving the Brit in sixth place for the first race, just ahead of WTCC Trophy rival and team-mate Mehdi Bennani in seventh.
Perhaps the most impressive effort of the session went to Campos Racing’s Kris Richard in eighth, with the Swiss racer only contesting his second event in the ageing Chevrolet Cruze, but getting through to Q2 and securing a prime starting position for the reversed grid Opening Race.
The third SLR Citroën of John Filippi made it into the top ten for the fourth time this season and was ninth, giving him a front row start alongside reverse-grid pole sitter Kevin Gleason, who had qualified his RC Motorsport LADA in tenth.
Alongside Michelisz on the sixth row will be ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel, who was 12th fastest in Q2 and may yet face a further reprimand for passing the chequered flag twice at the end of the session.
Honda’s Ryo Michigami made a late improvement in Q1 but failed to progress any further, ending up in 13th for both races, ahead of a disappointed Yann Ehrlacher in 14th, who was unable to get past Q1 in his LADA.
The Zengő Motorsport Hondas of Zsolt Szabó and Dániel Nagy completed the times, both Hungarians over three seconds off the pace.
The Opening Race takes place at 21:20 local time (18:20 GMT, 19:20 CET) with the Main Race following at 22:35 local time (19:35 GMT, 20:35 CET).
|1||86||T||Esteban GUERRIERI||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda Civic WTCC||3||2:00.893||0.000|
|2||63||Nicky CATSBURG||Polestar Cyan Racing||Volvo S60 Polestar||3||2:01.307||0.414|
|3||12||T||Rob HUFF||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||3||2:01.311||0.418|
|4||62||Thed BJÖRK||Polestar Cyan Racing||Volvo S60 Polestar||3||2:01.557||0.664|
|5||64||Yvan MULLER||Polestar Cyan Racing||Volvo S60 Polestar||3||2:01.893||1.000|
|1||86||T||Esteban GUERRIERI||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda Civic WTCC||3||2:01.302||0.000|
|2||63||Nicky CATSBURG||Polestar Cyan Racing||Volvo S60 Polestar||4||2:01.389||0.087|
|3||64||Yvan MULLER||Polestar Cyan Racing||Volvo S60 Polestar||3||2:01.605||0.303|
|4||12||T||Rob HUFF||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||3||2:01.707||0.405|
|5||62||Thed BJÖRK||Polestar Cyan Racing||Volvo S60 Polestar||4||2:01.914||0.612|
|6||3||T||Tom CHILTON||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||3||2:01.966||0.664|
|7||25||T||Mehdi BENNANI||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||3||2:02.176||0.874|
|8||11||T||Kris RICHARD||Campos Racing||Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1||3||2:02.735||1.433|
|9||27||T||John FILIPPI||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||5||2:02.940||1.638|
|10||24||T||Kevin GLEASON||RC Motorsport||LADA Vesta WTCC||5||2:03.423||2.121|
|11||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda Civic WTCC||3||2:03.554||2.252|
|12||9||T||Tom CORONEL||ROAL Motorsport||Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1||3||2:03.602||2.300|
|1||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda Civic WTCC||8||2:01.634||0.000|
|2||64||Yvan MULLER||Polestar Cyan Racing||Volvo S60 Polestar||6||2:01.657||0.023|
|3||63||Nicky CATSBURG||Polestar Cyan Racing||Volvo S60 Polestar||8||2:01.817||0.183|
|4||86||T||Esteban GUERRIERI||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda Civic WTCC||7||2:01.917||0.283|
|5||3||T||Tom CHILTON||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||7||2:02.002||0.368|
|6||62||Thed BJÖRK||Polestar Cyan Racing||Volvo S60 Polestar||7||2:02.343||0.709|
|7||25||T||Mehdi BENNANI||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||6||2:02.428||0.794|
|8||12||T||Rob HUFF||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||7||2:02.662||1.028|
|9||11||T||Kris RICHARD||Campos Racing||Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1||7||2:03.140||1.506|
|10||9||T||Tom CORONEL||ROAL Motorsport||Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1||7||2:03.166||1.532|
|11||27||T||John FILIPPI||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||8||2:03.167||1.533|
|12||24||T||Kevin GLEASON||RC Motorsport||LADA Vesta WTCC||7||2:03.246||1.612|
|13||34||Ryo MICHIGAMI||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda Civic WTCC||7||2:03.552||1.918|
|14||68||T||Yann EHRLACHER||RC Motorsport||LADA Vesta WTCC||6||2:03.746||2.112|
|15||66||T||Zsolt Dávid SZABÓ||Zengő Motorsport Kft||Honda Civic WTCC||8||2:05.300||3.666|
|16||99||T||Dániel NAGY||Zengő Motorsport Kft||Honda Civic WTCC||7||2:05.343||3.709|