– Muller lays down the gauntlet in tricky conditions as the Frenchman snares pole before the rain sets in
– Frustration for team-mate Chilton who lines up 12th on the grid, unable to equalise his earlier Q1 pace as rain slows the pack
– RML team targeting the podium & celebrations with Lukoil on home soil.
MOSCOW [Russia] – Saturday 8 June 2013: Triple World Champion, Yvan Muller will start from pole position for tomorrow’s inaugural race of the FIA World Touring Car Championship Race of Russia having banked a perfectly timed flying lap moments before heavy rain brought Q2 running to a premature end.
With the track slowing and the rest of the field unable to respond as conditions deteriorated, the Frenchman had done enough to protect his pole and ensure the Lukoil-liveried Cruze lines up in pride of place at the front of the grid.
But it wasn’t an easy task as Muller reveals: “That was tricky out there – the rain was coming in quite heavy so I had to really concentrate – it would have been easy to make a mistake – so I am very happy to be on pole, which is crucial here, because overtaking on this track is not easy. We’re in the best shape for the first race tomorrow so I hope we can continue the momentum and translate it to a win. The forecast is suggesting more rain so it will be an interesting race and I am sure one that fans will enjoy.”
Across the garage Tom Chilton’s early rapture from Q1 pace – in which he pipped his team-mate to second fastest just behind Tom Coronel – turned to disappointment as the Briton was unable to further capitalise and push the Cruze to the limit despite his best efforts.
Chilton explains: “We did a great job with the car this weekend and after Q1 I set a quicker time than Yvan, which is never easy, so I was very happy with the pace and performance at that stage. And then for Q2 the rain started to come in and so my plan was to get out ahead, passing Yvan, Gabriele and Norbert on the out lap to ensure a clean run. I needed that quick dry lap. But half way round the track was already getting slippery and, being first on the track I was a little cautious, keen to avoid any big slides so I lost time to the others there. It’s a real disappointment and another lesson learnt but tomorrow we’ll be determined to work through to the front. The podium is a realistic target.”
Ron Hartvelt, WTCC Project Manager: “The guys have done a great job today and pole position is the perfect reward for that. It’s a real shame for Tom because as we saw in the first qualifying session, he definitely has the pace there and has very quickly adapted to this new track so we were confident he’d be right at the front with Yvan. But then with heavy rainfall, inevitably the track loses pace and nobody was able to go out and improve. It’s frustrating and we can wish we had an extra dry lap in the bag but tomorrow I know they will both, as always, be 100% committed to doing their best and putting on a good show for all our partners, sponsors and the many fans that already seem totally engaged in what the WTCC has to offer, which is great news for the championship.”
1. Yvan Muller RML Chevrolet 1m43.335s
2. Tom Coronel ROAL BMW 1m43.405s + 0.070s
3. Rob Huff Munnich SEAT 1m43.466s + 0.131s
4. Norbert Michelisz Zengo Honda 1m43.772s + 0.437s
5. Gabriele Tarquini Honda 1m43.840s + 0.505s
6. James Thompson Lada 1m43.982s + 0.647s
7. Pepe Oriola Tuenti SEAT 1m43.992s + 0.657s
8. Michel Nykjaer Nika Chevrolet 1m44.157s + 0.822s
9. Charles Ng Engstler BMW 1m44.421s + 1.086s
10. Mehdi Bennani Proteam BMW 1m44.438s + 1.103s
11. James Nash Bamboo Chevrolet 1m45.119s + 1.784s
12. Tom Chilton RML Chevrolet 1m45.240s + 1.905s
13. Fredy Barth Wiechers BMW 1m43.850s Q1
14. Fernando Monje Campos SEAT 1m44.040s Q1
15. Darryl O’Young ROAL BMW 1m44.060s Q1
16. Nikolay Karamishev Campos SEAT 1m44.138s Q1
17. Marc Basseng Munnich SEAT 1m44.150s Q1
18. Alex MacDowall Bamboo Chevrolet 1m44.193s Q1
19. Stefano D’Aste PB BMW 1m44.265s Q1
20. Mikhail Kozlovskiy Lada 1m44.435s Q1
21. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW 1m44.476s Q1
22. Tiago Monteiro Honda 1m44.610s Q1
23. Rene Munnich Munnich SEAT 1m44.685s Q1