WTCC: Lopez on pole at Nurburgring
Due to specific track, qualifying rules were changed. Instead of three rounds, drivers had ’clear’ onehour session to decide starting positions for both races on Saturday. Qualifying went smoothly at dry track and sunny weather, so the results were better than in the morning practices.
Jose Maria Lopez set time to beat – 8:41.462 and was followed by Mehdi Bennani (8:42.565) and Hugo Valente (8:43.171). After some 20 minutes of the session, Jaap Van Lagen had a problems with his Lada Vesta and must retire in the moment when he was last. It was another disappointment for the Russian team which again was represented with only two cars, just at the opening of the season.
In the halfway of the session, Norbert Michelisz improved his result and went just behind Lopez with a gap of 0.460 seconds. Hungarian driver didn’t stayed second for a long. Lopez improved his lap time to 8:37.716, while his teammates Sebastien Loeb and Ma Qing Hua moved up to second and third with a gaps of 2.219 and 3.356 seconds.
Hugo Valente has repeated good performance from the second Free Practice and went into third wth 8:40.459. It was also interesting to see who will win tactic battle for ninth and tenth position as those positions secured first row places in the second race on Saturday.
In the last 20 minutes of qualifying most interesting was battle for second and third place. Michelisz passed over Valente to take third place, but Frenchmen soon went up to second with a result of 8:38.579 leaving Loeb on third. Battle for the pole position in the race two won Tiago Monteiro.
Only accident in this session had Ma Qing Hua three minutes before the end. Citroen’s Chinese driver slided out of track and crashed into the wall, but without huge damage on his car.