Yvan Muller will start his defence of the World Touring Car Championship title from pole position after SEAT dominated qualifying at Curitiba.

The Spanish armada played the new-style qualifying session to perfection to all make it through to the top-ten shootout and then successfully locked-out the top five places on the grid for the season opener.

Muller had been the pace-setter through the first phase of qualifying as the majority of the fancied runners successfully made it through the opening 20 minutes of running, although one notable exception was Chevrolet's Rob Huff who proved unable to get a clear lap and could only manage 13th. New BMW works driver Sergio Hernandez also failed to make it through after finishing just 0.036 second shy of Nicola Larini, who took the final shootout place.

Once into the shootout, the SEAT drivers elected to go out as one and make the most of whatever tow they could get in the short session, but the BMW and Chevrolet drivers instead elected to go it alone. It meant the SEATs quickly jumped to the front before Jorg Muller, Augusto Farfus and Andy Priaulx hit the track for BMW and Larini and Alain Menu went out in the new Chevrolet Cruze.

Yvan Muller was half a second quicker than anyone else once the SEATs had posted their first times and while Jorg Muller briefly held second, the SEATs put in one final burst to jump ahead of their rivals, with Muller leading Jordi Gene, Gabriele Tarquini, Tiago Monteiro and Rickard Rydell on the times.

Jorg Muller took sixth as 'best of the rest' while Farfus' attempt to qualify from just a single flying lap failed as he could manage only seventh. Menu, Larini and Priaulx completed the top ten.

"That was perfect, although I am a little surprised," Muller admitted after taking pole. "We did a better job over the winter than we expected and it was good teamwork. However, this is only the first race and the season is long."

Amongst the Independent runners, Felix Porteiro was quickest for Proteam in a solid twelfth overall and was comfortably quicker than his nearest rival Franz Engstler, who was 15th. Tom Boardman was just behind him as third quickest Independent with Stefano D'Aste, Tom Coronel, Marin Colak, George Tanev and Krisitian Poulsen completing the Indy grid. Poulsen's session ended early when he ran wide coming out of the final turn and went into a spin that saw his BMW make head-on contact with the pitwall, bringing out the red flag while his car was recovered.

The works LADA teams took up their customary position towards the rear of the field, although Jaap van Lagen and Kirill Ladygin had a brief moment of glory as both held top ten positions at the time of the red flag during Q1 before the big guns went out to post their times.

For qualifying times, CLICK HERE.



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