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Huff secures first Cruze pole
2 May 2009
Rob Huff has secured the first pole position for the Chevrolet Cruze after leading the way during qualifying for the first ever World Touring Car Championship event on African soil.
On a day when the new Chevrolet started to make an impression towards the front of the times after challenging events in both Brazil and Mexico, Huff and team-mates Alain Menu and Nicola Larini led the way during the first segment of qualifying before Huff and Menu then secured a lock-out of the front-row during the top ten shootout.
Making the most of the slipstreaming effect along the long straights in Marrakech – and the fact that Morocco marks the first weekend with the new compensation weights in force – Huff posted a quickest time of 1min 49.789secs to finish two-tenths of a second clear of Menu. The Swiss star ended his session on the sidelines after sliding into the barriers and taking the front left wheel off his car late on.
Gabriele Tarquini was third quickest in the first of the diesel-powered SEAT Leons, ahead of Yvan Muller and Jordi Gene, while Nicola Larini completed the top six as Chevrolet and SEAT dominated the session. Tiago Monteiro was seventh ahead of the leading BMW, although it was Independent runner Franz Engstler who led the challenge for the rear-wheel drive runners.
Both Jorg Muller and Andy Priaulx had made it through to the final stage of qualifying, although neither was able to set a time in their quest to secure a strong grid slot. Muller suffered an apparent puncture and was forced to pull off the circuit while Priaulx was prevented from taking part in the session after running wide at the end of Q1 and colliding with fellow BMW runner Sergio Hernandez. Having had assistance from marshals to get his car back to the pits, the former champion was unable to return to action and will start tenth.
Outside the top ten, Alex Zanardi was eleventh, while Rickard Rydell and Augusto Farfus will start twelfth and 13th having been the big casualties of the opening segment of qualifying. Hernandez meanwhile starts down in 19th.
Away from Engstler, local driver Mehdi Bennani was second quickest amongst the Independent drivers, with points leader Felix Porteiro in third.
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