Experienced Frenchman Yvan Muller has taken his third pole position of this year's FIA World Touring Car Championship ahead of a trio of battling Brits by two tenths of a second, with nearest championship rival Gabriele Tarquini down in sixth place.
At a dry and sunny Salzburgring, Muller put in a lap early on in Q2 which was good enough for pole, which was just as well: a rather bizarre end to the session saw the final twelve miss passing the timing beam to set a lap time due to jostling for slipstreaming position, with no driver giving away any tow advantage.
With Muller's pole time unassailed, just behind on the grid and filling up the front row is his RML Chevrolet team-mate Tom Chilton, who set fast times in the previous Q1 but couldn't match his driving partner's pace in Q2.
Taking up positions on row two will be reigning champion Rob Huff, who is the top SEAT driver, and Alex MacDowall who qualified as the top independent.
Michel Nykjaer took fifth. Next to him on the grid is leading championship contender Gabriele Tarquini, who qualified a relatively low sixth place in his Castrol JAS Honda Civic but who did pip his team-mate Tiago Monteiro, who qualified in a slightly disappointing seventh after just managing to push top Spaniard Pepe Oriola down to eighth.
Zengo Motorsport's Norbert Michelisz put in a time good enough for ninth, but he bettered bamboo-engineering driver James Nash who just wasn't able to get a good run together for tenth. Stefano d'Aste is the top BMW in eleventh for PB Racing ahead of ROAL Motorsports' Tom Coronel who didn't manage to get a lap in Q2. The 'Flying Dutchman' actually spun off on the cool down lap, giving his mechanics some light work to do before tomorrow mornings warm-up session.
Drivers who missed the Q1 cut included independent form man Mehdi Bennani. He'll start from 13th in the Proteam Racing BMW alongside a relatively happy Mikhail Kozlovskiy who showed better pace in Q1 to be top LADA. An uneventful session for Wiechers Sport's Freddy Barth saw him pip Franz Engstler for 15th place.
Marc Basseng qualified a very disappointing 17th ahead of fellow SEAT driver Hugo Valente who claimed 18th for Campos Racing. Basseng actually spun out on the last corner at the end of Q1, but there was no major damage to report to his Munnich Motorsport car.
Darryl O'Young had an untroubled run to 19th for ROAL Motorsport, beating James Thompson who was forced to park his LADA at turn one with mechanical troubles near the end of Q1 before he'd had the chance to get an optimal time under his belt although it was still good enough to fend off the rest of the field, which included Charles Ng and back of the grid regulars Rene Munnich and Fernando Monje.
Despite the sunny and warm weather at the Salzburgring today, rain is forecast for both of tomorrow's races in Austria - which should make things interesting.See full qualifying times
.by Dexter Fielding