José María López takes Shanghai pole position

José María López took an important pole position at Shanghai. The Argentinian led a Citroën 1-2-3, with Ma Qing Hua ahead of title contender Yvan Muller.

In the first segment of the session local hero Ma set the pace ahead of Muller, López and Sébastien Loeb. The four Citroëns came home ahead of Chevrolet’s Tom Chilton, with Honda duo Gabriele Tarquini-Norbert Michelisz just behind him. Tiago Monteiro was eighth for Honda, ahead of ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel, with Proteam’s Mehdi Bennani and Campos Racing duo Dusan Borkovic-Hugo Valente making it to the second part of the session.

Despite a last gasp effort from Rob Huff, all three Ladas were out of the session in Q1, as James Thompson came 14th behind Chevrolet’s Gianni Morbidelli, with team-mates Huff and Mikhail Kozlovskiy just behind him.

Q2 was dramatic for Tom Coronel, as the Dutchman was stopped for a weight check and missed his last run as a result. The ROAL Motorsport driver had a very narrow margin over Bennani, who managed to improve by just 5 hundredths, which were enough to put him in tenth and on provisional pole position for Race 2.

The drivers who made it into Q2 were the four Citroën drivers, with Muller ahead of López, Ma and Loeb. Norbert Michelisz was the only non-Citroën driver in Q2 for Honda.

The Hungarian came home ahead of fellow Civic drivers Tiago Monteiro and Gabriele Tarquini. Tom Chilton will start the first race from eighth ahead of Valente and Bennani.

In the final shootout López was quicker than team-mate Ma by 0.1s, with Yvan Muller a further half a second behind. Norbert Michelisz put in a strong performance for fourth, ahead of Citroën’s Sébastien Loeb, who made mistakes in both the second and the third sector, even clipping the inside tyres at the last corner.

López brings his advantage in the Drivers’ championship up to 68 points with this pole position. The Argentinian is admittedly feeling the pressure, despite the huge margin, and he has a difficult task ahead as he will face pressure from both Ma and Muller tomorrow.

The first race is scheduled for for 15.00 CST.