Yvan Muller has taken his fourth pole position of the 2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship in a rain-interrupted season which saw the last four minutes of Q2 wiped out by a heavy localised shower at the Moscow Raceway in Russia on Saturday afternoon.
The Frenchman, who was also fastest in this morning's second free practice, had been on the pace throughout the session even before showing his full hand and even without gaining much of a slipstream advantage down the 873-metre back straight, but nevertheless went on to take pole position in the RML Chevrolet.
Alongside him is the 'Flying Dutchman' Tom Coronel, who had earlier been fastest in the first free practice session of the day. He was certainly able to keep Muller honest, finishing just less than a tenth of a second off pole before ultimately having to settle for second as the top BMW for ROAL Motorsport.
Reigning champion – and top SEAT – Rob Huff was five hundredths of a second from the front row, and third place round the twisty and technical track puts 'Huffy' in contention for a solid result for tomorrow's race one. Norbert Michelisz joins him on the second row in P4 and is also top Honda.
Gabriele Tarquini quietly went about his business for another top-five qualifying result. He was just ahead of James Thompson in the LADA, who have the Russian fans something to shout after a competitive qualifying from the Granta Sport entry.
Pepe Oriola took his tuenti Racing SEAT to seventh ahead of top independent qualifier Michel Nykjaer who will start from eighth for NIKA Racing. Charles Ng had a great run to ninth in his Engstler BMW keeping fellow BMW independent Mehdi Bennani at bay to round off the top 10.
James Nash struggled to find space to put in a good lap and finished in eleventh, but ahead of Tom Chilton whose one-lap run in Q2 was partially affected by the rain shower.
Freddy Barth agonisingly missed the cut for Q2, ending up in P13 for him and his Wiechers Sport BMW ahead of Fernando Monje, who will be hoping for better results from his previous attempts at the Salzburgring. Another BMW - that of Darryl O'Young - will line up in 15th after also just missing out on the top 12.
Local hero and WTCC débutant Nikolay Karamyshev had a trouble-free run to 16th, out-qualifying the likes of Marc Basseng who has been having a dismal qualifying run of late in his Munnich Motorsport SEAT. He will start from 17th just ahead of independent front runner Alex MacDowall who just wasn't able to put a lap together and ended up a surprise elimination at the end of Q1.
Stefano d'Aste had a torrid qualifying for P19 while, another local hero and LADA driver Mikahil Kozlovskiy ended up disappointed to be down in 20th.
Franz Engstler will start in from 21st position on the grid ahead of Tiago Monteiro, whose Russian visit has been hindered with water pump issues since yesterday's free practice in his Honda Civic. Monteiro ended qualifying only seven hundredths of a second ahead of the now-usual last-placed qualifier Rene Munnich, who still appears to be struggling to get to grips with the demands and driving characteristics of the front wheel drive SEAT.
by Dexter Fielding