WTCC Shanghai: Jose Maria Lopez takes main race pole position
|By Jack Cozens||Saturday, September 24th 2016, 08:08 GMT|
Citroen's Jose Maria Lopez claimed his sixth pole position of the 2016 World Touring Car Championship season with the fastest time in qualifying at the Shanghai International Circuit.
Lopez recorded his 20th qualifying pole of his WTCC career with the final lap of the Q3 pole position shootout session, with his and team-mate Yvan Muller's results enough to seal a third-straight manufacturers' title for Citroen.
Lada's Nick Catsburg recorded a best time of 1m49.500s with the first flying lap of the shootout, despite appearing to exceed track limits at the final corner, and headed the standings before Lopez's lap.
Lopez's first two sector times were marginally slower than the ballast-free Lada, but Lopez clawed back that deficit and more through the final sector, which includes the 1170 metre-long back straight, to go fastest of all by 0.161 seconds with a time of 1m49.339s.
Catsburg still secured his best main race grid slot since qualifying on pole for the main race at Moscow Raceway in June with second, splitting the factory Citroens.
Muller too had been marginally short of Catsburg in the first two sectors but dropped more time in the final sector and wound up third - although the three additional points for that position were enough for Citroen to provisionally secure the manufacturers' crown.
Citroen is now 216 points clear of closest rivals Honda, with 191 on offer from the four remaining races as well as the MAC3 and qualifying sessions.
That title will be confirmed next week when the World Motorsport Council convenes, with the penultimate round of the season in Thailand set to be cancelled for financial reasons.
Mehdi Bennani was fourth in the leading satellite Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen C-Elysee, while Polestar Volvo driver Thed Bjork returned to the third part of qualifying and secured fifth.
Catsburg's late improvement at the end of Q2 bumped Lada team-mate Garbiele Tarquini from a place in the pole position shootout, the Italian instead having to settle for sixth.
Fredrik Ekblom qualified the second Volvo S60 Polestar in seventh on his return to the championship, ahead of Tom Chilton, the lead Honda Civic of Norbert Michelisz and John Filippi - who in 10th secured a second reversed grid pole in three races.
Filippi's time was good enough to beat fellow Chevrolet drivers Tom Coronel and James Thompson, neither of whom could improve on their initial Q2 times despite heading out for second runs.
Honda drivers Tiago Monteiro and Rob Huff were the biggest scalps in a competitive first part of qualifying, the pair missing out by two tenths of a second.
Sat in the drop zone, they followed the lead of team-mate Michelisz on their final laps in Q1, but while they both improved their times it was not enough to haul them into the top 12, with a late improvement from Thompson bumping them both further back to 14th (Monteiro) and 15th (Huff).
Lada's Hugo Valente was the other factory driver to miss out on Q2 in 13th, while Gregoire Demoustier and Zengo Motorsport pair Ferenc Ficza and Daniel Nagy completed the order.
HONDA SALVAGES MAC3 SUCCESS
Honda's qualifying disappointment was countered by victory in the MAC3 time trial, as third Citroen driver Bennani slowed on his warm-up lap.
Huff was third in Honda's train across the line and completed its run in a best time of 3m49.103s, which was enough to edge out Lada's effort by 0.295s.
Citroen was then unable to attempt its MAC3 effort, as Bennani stopped on the warm-up lap with a throttle problem before coasting back to the pits, handing Honda a sixth win of the season.
RACE ONE GRID
|1||John Filippi||Campos Racing||Chevrolet||1m50.809s|
|2||Norbert Michelisz||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda||1m50.787s|
|3||Tom Chilton||Sebastien Loeb Racing||Citroen||1m50.498s|
|4||Fredrik Ekblom||Polestar Cyan Racing||Volvo||1m50.439s|
|5||Gabriele Tarquini||LADA Sport||Lada||1m50.393s|
|6||Thed Bjork||Polestar Cyan Racing||Volvo||1m50.677s|
|7||Mehdi Bennani||Sebastien Loeb Racing||Citroen||1m49.944s|
|8||Yvan Muller||Citroen Racing||Citroen||1m49.911s|
|9||Nicky Catsburg||LADA Sport||Lada||1m49.500s|
|10||Jose Maria Lopez||Citroen Racing||Citroen||1m49.339s|
|11||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport||Chevrolet||1m50.825s|
|12||James Thompson||Munnich Motorsport||Chevrolet||1m50.971s|
|13||Hugo Valente||LADA Sport||Lada||1m51.399s|
|14||Tiago Monteiro||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda||1m51.404s|
|15||Rob Huff||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda||1m51.523s|
|16||Gregoire Demoustier||Sebastien Loeb Racing||Citroen||1m51.848s|
|17||Ferenc Ficza||Zengo Motorsport||Honda||1m52.519s|
|18||Daniel Nagy||Zengo Motorsport||Honda||1m52.810s|
MAIN RACE GRID
|1||Jose Maria Lopez||Citroen Racing||Citroen||1m49.339s|
|2||Nicky Catsburg||LADA Sport||Lada||0.161s|
|3||Yvan Muller||Citroen Racing||Citroen||0.572s|
|4||Mehdi Bennani||Sebastien Loeb Racing||Citroen||0.605s|
|5||Thed Bjork||Polestar Cyan Racing||Volvo||1.338s|
|6||Gabriele Tarquini||LADA Sport||Lada||1.054s|
|7||Fredrik Ekblom||Polestar Cyan Racing||Volvo||1.100s|
|8||Tom Chilton||Sebastien Loeb Racing||Citroen||1.159s|
|9||Norbert Michelisz||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda||1.448s|
|10||John Filippi||Campos Racing||Chevrolet||1.470s|
|11||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport||Chevrolet||1.486s|
|12||James Thompson||Munnich Motorsport||Chevrolet||1.632s|
|13||Hugo Valente||LADA Sport||Lada||2.060s|
|14||Tiago Monteiro||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda||2.065s|
|15||Rob Huff||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda||2.184s|
|16||Gregoire Demoustier||Sebastien Loeb Racing||Citroen||2.509s|
|17||Ferenc Ficza||Zengo Motorsport||Honda||3.180s|
|18||Daniel Nagy||Zengo Motorsport||Honda||3.471s|