Citroen’s Jose Maria Lopez claimed pole position for the opening round of the 2015 World Touring Car Championship in Argentina by a commanding 1.2-second margin from team-mate Yvan Muller. It was a dominant performance made all the more emphatic by the fact that key rivals made conspicuous errors.
Rob Huff was fastest of all in the new Lada Vesta in the first round of qualifying, after which Gregoire Demoustier, John Filippi, Dusan Borkovic, Rickard Rydell and Norbert Michelisz (who lost his front-left wheel) were eliminated. But the Ladas were unable to repeat that performance in the second round, and Huff will start both Sunday’s races in 11th place. Team-mate James Thompson will start the reverse-grid race two on pole postion by dint of finishing 10th in Q2.
Ma Qing Hua closed out Q2 fastest of all in a factory Citroen 1-2-3 ahead of Lopez and Yvan Muller, but he over-committed on his fast lap in the Q3 shoot-out and will start race one from fourth on the grid.
Sebastien Loeb also had an off-track moment in Q3 while Honda’s Tiago Monteiro, the sole non-Citroen runner to make it through to the final round of qualifying, could not summon the pace to challenge the C-Elysees.
Muller set a benchmark time of 1m46.701s, but his time on provisional pole was shortlived as Lopez nailed a searingly clean lap of 1m45.461s.
“I don’t think anybody apart form me did a clean lap,” said Lopez. “It’s not possible to have a gap of one second in Q3.”
Laptimes were slower than this morning’s second practice owing to higher ambient temperatures in the early afternoon sun.
RACE ONE STARTING GRID:
|1||Jose Maria Lopez||Citroen Total WTCC||Citroen||1m 45.461s||–|
|2||Yvan Muller||Citroen Total WTCC||Citroen||1m 46.701s||1.240s|
|3||Sebastien Loeb||Citroen Total WTCC||Citroen||1m 47.061s||1.600s|
|4||Ma Qing Hua||Citroen Total WTCC||Citroen||1m 47.203s||1.742s|
|5||Tiago Monteiro||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda||1m 47.633s||2.172s|
|6||Tom Chilton||ROAL Motorsport||Chevrolet||1m 46.738s||–|
|7||Gabriele Tarquini||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda||1m 46.967s||–|
|8||Stefano D’Aste||All-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport||Chevrolet||1m 47.120s||–|
|9||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport||Chevrolet||1m 48.322s||–|
|10||James Thompson||LADA Sport Rosneft||Lada||1m 50.165s||–|
|11||Robert Huff||LADA Sport Rosneft||Lada||1m 50.553s||–|
|12||Mehdi Bennani||Sebastien Loeb Racing||Citroen||–||–|
|13||Dusan Borkovic||Proteam Racing||Honda||1m 48.443s||–|
|14||John Filippi||Campos Racing||Chevrolet||1m 48.507s||–|
|15||Gregoire Demoustier||Craft-Bamboo Racing||Chevrolet||1m 49.042s||–|
|16||Rickard Rydell||Nika International||Honda||1m 49.267s||–|
|17||Norbert Michelisz||Zengo Motorsport||Honda||–||–|
|18||Hugo Valente||Campos Racing||Chevrolet||–||–|
Q1 decides 13th-back, Q2 decides 6th-12th, Q3 pole shootout for top five
Race two grid is Q2 top 10 order reversed, then as race one from 11th back