Jose Maria Lopez has taken pole position for the 2016 World Touring Car Championship opener in France after prevailing for Citroen in a closely contested qualifying session.

In a session that saw all four of the five manufacturers have at least one representative in the top five one-lap shootout, it was two-time champion Lopez was exerted his strength in the Citroen C-Elysee to top the standings with a 1min 28.950secs.

It was enough to put him two tenths clear of Honda driver Tiago Monteiro, who will start alongside him in the Civic, while Yvan Muller follows up in third position in the second of the factory Citroens.

Though they didn't set a time, Tom Coronel was a fine fourth despite brake problems, while Nick Catsburg was prevented from setting his lap due to a communication error that prevented him from making it onto track in his allocated slot.

Volvo starts sixth for its WTCC return after Thed Bjork just missed out on the chance to make it into the top five, ahead of Norbert Michelisz, Mehdi Bennani and Fredrik Ekblom. Rob Huff qualified tenth to secure pole position for race two.

Meanwhile, Citroen clinched the first MAC3 'Tour de France' style fight for manufacturers' points, just ahead of LADA and Honda.



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