Tarquini and Honda dominate Slovakia qualifying

Gabriele Tarquini and Honda continued the scorching pace they had displayed throughout Saturday practice right into qualifying, to secure a back-to-back pole after success in Marrakech.
Gabriele Tarquini followed up his success two weeks ago in Morocco by taking his second pole position of the 2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship season for Honda at the Slovakia Ring on Saturday. That meant Tarquini gave the Japanese manufacturer their first back-to-back pole in the championship in the process.

Tarquini's pole came at the climax of a two-part qualifying session that had started with a lengthy red-flag for a heavy crash involving ROAL Motorsport's Darryl O'Young at turn 9 just five minutes in.

Tarquini's impressive performance merely confirmed the formidable form of the Honda marque in Slovakia: the Castrol JAS Honda Racing cars of Tarquini and team mate Tiago Monteiro, who were joined in Slovakia by fellow Honda Civic driver Norbert Michelisz in the Zengo Motorsports entry, had proved untouchable and dominated the qualifying session to lock-out the first three positions on the grid.

The trio were never really under attack from their rival manufacturers Chevrolet, SEAT or LADA. Tarquini's best time of 2:10.773 was enough to hold off the charge from his team mate Monteiro by just over a tenth, with Michelisz nipping at the heels of the Castrol-sponsored cars just a hundredth of a second further adrift.

The pace of the Hondas throughout the earlier practice sessions and into qualifying had been something of a head-scratcher for the rest of the teams on Saturday. The RML Chevrolet pair of Yvan Muller and Tom Chilton were the best of the rest and not too far adrift in in fourth and fifth respectively, but they never amounted a serious threat to the Civic cars' grip on the top thee grid positions.

A trio of Brits took sixth, seventh and eighth places on the Slovakia Ring grid: Alex MacDowall took top Independent honours in sixth from 2012 champion and top SEAT Rob Huff, forcing James Nash to have to settle for eighth after getting held up in traffic on his last flying lap in Q2. However, Huff's #1 car subsequently failed a ride height inspection after the session and as a result he will take a ten-place grid penalty for Sunday's race meaning he will start from 17th place.

Rounding out the top ten were the fast young Spaniard Pepe Oriola in his tuenti Racing SEAT, and the 'Flying Dutchman' Tom Coronel, whose lighter ROAL Motorsport BMW will see him take tenth position for the first race on Sunday and then pole for the second under the reverse grid format rules.

Mehdi Bennani took eleventh place for ProTeam BMW, in an uneventful but more effective qualifying than that of Michel Nykjaer who had two trips the Slovakia gravel on his way to clinching twelfth spot, making the NIKA Racing driver the lowest Chevrolet qualifier of the day.

Marc Basseng missed the cut for Q1 by two tenths of a second and had to settle for a hopefully not-unlucky 13th position for Sunday's first race, with Swiss racer Freddy Barth just 0.007s behind him despite his now-usual spin during the early stages of Q1.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Gabriele Tarquini - Honda Civic [Pic credit: FIA WTCC]
Gabriele Tarquini - Honda Civic [Pic credit: FIA WTCC]
Gabriele Tarquini - Honda Civic [Pic credit: FIA WTCC]
Nestor Girolami, Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo, WTCC [Credit: WTCC]
Tom Chilton, Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen [Credit: XPB]
Tom Coronel, Roal Chevrolet [Credit: WTCC media]
Gabriele Tarquini, Lada, Moscow [Credit: WTCC media]
Jose Maria Lopez - Citroen Racing [credit: Florent Gooden / DPP]
Rob Huff - Castrol Honda Civic
Rob Huff - Castrol Honda Civic
Tom Coronel - ROAL Chevrolet Cruze
Rob Huff - Castrol Honda Civic [credit: FIA WTCC Media]
Rob Huff - Castrol Honda Civic [credit: FIA WTCC Media]
Yvan Muller - Citroen Racing [credit: FIA WTCC Media]
Yvan Muller - Citroen Racing [credit: FIA WTCC Media]
Jose Maria Lopez - Citroen Racing [credit: FIA WTCC Media]
Jose Maria Lopez - Citroen Racing [credit: FIA WTCC Media]
Mehdi Bennani - Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen

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