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WTCC Marrakech: Honda's Monteiro takes pole for main race

Monteiro, WTCC, Honda

Honda driver Tiago Monteiro secured pole position for Sunday's main World Touring Car Championship race in Marrakech in the first qualifying session of the 2017 season.

Monteiro had been fastest in the second part of qualifying, but saved his best for the final Q3 shootout session to secure a fourth pole of his WTCC career.

The Portuguese was last to run in Q3 and produced a 1m21.792s lap of the Moulay El Hassan street circuit in his works Civic, which was enough to give him pole by 0.239 seconds.

Monteiro also scored the five championship points for qualifying on pole as a result.

Nestor Girolami was the only Volvo pilot to make it into the five-driver shootout and qualified on the outside of the front row on his first appearance as a full-time driver for the manufacturer.

The Argentinian, who made a one-off appearance for the team at Motegi last year and also contested two events in a Honda Civic in 2015, managed to split the factory Hondas with a best lap of 1m22.031s.

That edged out practice pacesetter Norbert Michelisz by 0.066s, with Michelisz to start the main race from third.

Rob Huff was the first driver to run in the shootout and will start the main race from fourth in his Munnich Motorsport Citroen C-Elysee, while Mehdi Bennani was the other driver to make Q3 in his Sebastien Loeb Racing C-Elysee.

Outside of the top five, the second and third Volvo S60 Polestars of Nicky Catsburg and Thed Bjork were sixth and seventh ahead of SLR's Tom Chilton.

Yann Ehrlacher will start his first WTCC race from pole position, the 20-year-old securing the reversed-grid race pole with 10th in Q2 in his RC Motorsport-run Lada Vesta.

Ehrlacher - nephew of four-time champion Yvan Muller - had spent much of the second session in ninth, before Ryo Michigami's late improvement in the third factory Honda Civic bumped him back.

WTCC debutant Aurelien Panis was slowest of all in Q1, and will line up for his first race since switching from single-seaters in 15th after qualifying 2.238s off Michelisz's fastest Q1 time.

VOLVO WINS ON MAC3 DEBUT

Volvo beat Honda to victory in the opening MAC3 event of 2017 on its maiden appearance in the time trial.

Running first, Volvo's plan to have Girolami complete its run went awry at the start as he instead took up a place at the front of the queue, with Bjork dropping to the back of the train.

But that aside, its first MAC3 appearance was a success as its three drivers completed their two-lap run in a time of 2m51.926s.

That bettered Honda's later effort by seven-tenths, with its run completed by Michelisz.

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