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Saturday, 22 October 2011
WTCC: MENU EXTENDS CHEVROLET'S POLE STREAK
ROUNDS 19 & 20 - SUZUKA RACE REPORT
MENU EXTENDS CHEVROLET'S POLE STREAK Alain Menu claimed his third pole position of the season and extended Chevrolet's invincibility in this year's qualifying sessions. The Swiss and his team-mates have won all the ten pole positions so far. Reigning champion and current point leader Yvan Muller set the second fastest lap, while his arch-rival in the title fight, Rob Huff could not achieve more than a fourth position on the grid for tomorrow's Race 1. Huff lost third to Robert Dahlgren in the final seconds of Q2 by only eight thousandths of a second. This was the second time Dahlgren managed to squeeze among the top three after he qualified second at Oschersleben.
Q1 - The session kicked off under a threat of rain and yet most of the top drivers sat in their pits during the early stages. Tom Coronel posted a provisional fastest lap of 53.943 after three minutes, but immediately afterwards the red flag was waved for the first time when Mehdi Bennani's BMW got stranded at the outside of the East Shortcut. As action resumed Yvan Muller jumped on top with a lap of 53.893, leading a bunch of drivers who elbowed their way into the top ten: Rob Huff, Robert Dahlgren and Alain Menu. Gabriele Tarquini was among them, but failed to make the cut because of a small clash with Menu. Michel Nykjær improved the fastest lap to 53.725 and again the red flag was waved after Pepe Oriola's SUNRED crashed heavily at the exit of the last turn. Which also spoiled Tarquini's attempt once again. The session resumed for a four-minute spell in which Colin Turkington set the fastest lap (53.672) while Tarquini eventually managed to make the top ten. The last spot for Q2 - and pole position for Race 2 - was won by Darryl O'Young who kicked Javier Villa off. The following drivers advanced to Q2: Turkington, Nykjær, Tarquini, Menu, Dahlgren, Monteiro, Muller, Huff, Coronel and O'Young.
Q2 - The second part of the session was not especially eventful. Most of the ten drivers managed to set their best time on the first lap out of the pits, with Menu (53.443) leading Muller (53.492) and Huff (53.520). Only Coronel and Dahlgren were able to improve on their last attempt. The Dutchman climbed to a provisional fourth position with a lap of 53.601 that eventually became the fifth when Dahlgren stopped the watches on the time of 53.512. This was good enough for him to qualify in hird, splitting the Chevrolet trio. Nykjær qualified in seventh position, best of the Yokohama Trophy.