Yvan Muller will start the opening race of the new World Touring Car Championship season from pole position following a dramatic qualifying session at Monza.

Muller and RML mopped up in qualifying with Tom Chilton, tying up the other spot on the front row for the British based team.

Qualifying got off to a dramatic start and just three minutes into Q1, Rob Huff tangled with Freddy Barth's BMW. Although the latter suffered no damage, Huff was instantly out having damaged the front-right suspension after they made contact coming out of Curve Grande. The session was then red flagged for several minutes.

Meanwhile, at the re-start, Muller took control putting in a quick lap with fellow Chevrolet runners Chilton, Michel Nykjaer, James Nash and Alex MacDowall making sure that they followed suit and were also through to Q2 with no problems.

The most embarrassing moment of qualifying came near the mid-point of Q1, when Aleksei Dudukalo mistimed his braking at turn 1 and t-boned his LADA team-mate, James Thompson.

Dudukalo went out on the spot, but Thompson was able to limp back to the pits and the team did a good job repairing the car to be able to get out and put some laps together in Q2. Thompson qualified ninth in the end, meaning for the reverse grid for the second race tomorrow, LADA will start from the front row for the very first time.

Other top names that dropped out at the end of an action packed Q1 alongside Huff included former race winners, Tom Coronel, Tiago Monteiro and Norbert Michelisz.

Q2 got underway with Muller blitzing Tarquini's previous qualifying record from last year by 1.5 seconds, which in the end was untouchable. Chilton took second place on the grid for an RML clean sweep of the front row.

Alex MacDowall grabbed the top spot for Independents with a time 1.2 seconds off Muller's but it was enough to put him third and just ahead of young Spaniard, Pepe Oriola and old guard, Gabriele Tarquini in fourth and fifth.

Tarquini was given a warning by the stewards after running into the back of Nash's Chevrolet and taking out Rene Munnich in dramatic style at the end of Q1 with Campos driver, Fernando Monje taking to the gravel to miss the spinning German.

by Dexter Fielding


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