– Yvan Muller streets ahead in Porto, securing his 5th pole of the year (18th career) with a new lap record
– Tom Chilton ensures RML front row take over, lining up P2 for tomorrow’s first race & equalling his best qualifying performance of the year
PORTO [Portugal] – Saturday 29 June: RML’s Yvan Muller and Tom Chilton have today staged the perfect qualifying performance as the Frenchman claimed his 5th pole of the season and will be joined for the first of tomorrow’s two FIA World Touring Car Championship races by team-mate and Porto newcomer, Tom Chilton.
With track temperatures soaring to over 62 degrees during this afternoon’s session, bringing added intensity to the perils of Porto’s street circuit, the RML pairing set to work reaffirming their enviable pace from the morning’s practice.
Early Q1 honours would fall to new RML customer team Tuenti Racing and the young Spaniard, Pepe Oriola in his first outing with the Chevrolet Cruze, however this momentum wouldn’t last as Norbert Michelisz interjected, followed closely by Chilton and Muller.
A brief moment of respite for the drivers to cool down before Q2 was underway and as Chilton and Muller exchanged best sector times, it was anybody’s guess as to who would cash in the pole position as several exerted a little more than the limit across the high kerbs and unforgiving barriers, resulting in a brief red flag stint. Chilton himself would find a little more air between track and Cruze than desired, a reminder only needed once as the Aon-backed racer quickly acclimatised to the tough track.
As the field lay down their first lap flyers, nobody had an answer to the red and white Lukoil-branded Cruze of Muller as the championship leader set a record-breaking time of 2:05.347, securing his 5th pole of the season in style.
With the session nearing its end Chilton was on a charge, becoming the closest match to his team-mate less than two tenths off on a 2:05.545s lap – an impressive feat for the Briton who has only once visited the area before in a drift car.
Yvan Muller: “A good day of course, but it was hot! City tracks are always more difficult both technically and physically, especially with such high temperatures. So I am really pleased with getting the pole here.”
Tom Chilton: “I’m really happy with that – this is a great circuit to drive but definitely very challenging to learn. After the practice sessions I was much more confident in myself and the car and could see from the timesheets there was definite pace and potential, which happily translated into the front row of the grid for tomorrow.”