Alain Menu has taken his third consecutive pole position and his fourth of the season at the Shanghai International Circuit ahead of Chevrolet team-mate Yvan Muller, whilst Zengõ Motorsport’s Norbert Michelisz will start third.
The Swiss-driver set the best time of the weekend on his first run in Q2, with a time of 1:54.383, with Yvan Muller just 0.026 seconds behind.
Rob Huff, joint championship leader before the session, was fastest of all in Q1 and was just two-tenths slower than Menu, but ended up fourth after a great time from Zengõ Motorsport’s Norbert Michelisz, who also took the independents’ class pole position in the BMW 320 TC.
With just ten minutes available in Q2 on the 4.6km circuit, there was effectively only time for one run in the session. Gabriele Tarquini aborted his first flying lap for a set-up change and then went out and set the ninth fastest time, bumping Lukoil Racing Team team-mate Aleksei Dudukalo out of the top ten to secure himself a front-row start for race two, starting behind Tom Coronel with the top ten reversed.
Fredy Barth only set one lap after just making it into Q2 in the final moments of Q1 with a top 12 time, and qualified 12th.
Elsewhere in the top ten, Colin Turkington qualified fifth on his WTCC return after leading FP1 in the morning. The Northern Irishman will benefit from starting ahead of all the works Chevrolets in the reversed grid for the second race.
Independents’ championship battlers Stefano D’Aste, Pepe Oriola and Alex MacDowall also qualified strongly in sixth, seventh and eighth positions, so MacDowall will be on point when the grid’s reversed.
Just missing the top 12 was Proteam’s Mehdi Bennani, bumped at the last moment by Barth’s SEAT, and Darryl O’Young’s Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet.
James Nash was the fastest of the Ford drivers in 15th, just 0.072 seconds away from getting into Q2 as the times were so close in the mid-field.
Tiago Monteiro wasn’t able to repeat his qualifying form from Japan and qualified in 17th in the new Honda Civic.
The next session is the warm-up on Sunday which takes place at 09:00 CST, with race one following at 14:50 CST.