Reigning World Touring Car champion Gabriele Tarquini claimed pole position today at Marrakech in Morocco in a qualifying session that was heavily disrupted by red flags.

Tarquini, who had set the pace in both practice sessions earlier in the day, took top spot in his SR-Sport-run SEAT Leon TDI with a 1 minute 45.830 second lap, a time that improved upon the existing lap record by nearly four seconds - and was over half a second up on his closest rival.

It was the eleventh pole of his WTCC career and his first of the new season, which got underway back in March in Brazil.

Rob Huff meanwhile will start alongside him in second in his Chevrolet Cruze on 1m 46.364s, while Tarquini's SR-Sport team-mates Jordi Gen? and Tiago Monteiro were third and fourth, the former just 0.013 seconds off P2.

Chevrolet's Yvan Muller rounded out the top five, 0.046 seconds up on Michel Nykjaer, who was the top rookie in sixth. Nykjaer brought out the third and final red flag of the day, when he crashed his SEAT Leon TDI into the wall at turn 10, prematurely ending Q2.

Tom Coronel and Fredy Barth came in seventh and eighth ahead of Franz Engstler and Norbert Michelisz.

Michelisz had been quickest in Q1, but went off at turn 3 and brought the first session to an early close. He was unable to take his place in Q2 as his car was too badly damaged to be repaired in time. Consequently he will start tenth.

Engstler, the quickest Independent, who will start one spot in front in ninth, also incidentally had problems and damaged his car after clipping the wall early in Q2. The oil left on the track from that incident was responsible for the second red flag.

Of the rest, BMW Team RBM's Augusto Farfus and Andy Priaulx both got caught out and failed to progress to the top-ten shoot-out. They will start eleventh and twelfth respectively, with Alain Menu a disappointing 13th, having hit the wall exiting turn 14.