Photo: Citroen Racing

Yvan Muller claims first pole of 2015 in Hungary ahead of Hugo Valente

Citroën Racing’s Yvan Muller has claimed his first pole position of the 2015 FIA World Touring Car Championship season as the cars experienced their first dry running, while Hugo Valente qualifies in second position but will serve a five-place penalty due to an earlier infraction in free practice, promiting points leader José María López to second.

There was a red flag right at the start of qualifying after Honda’s Gabriele Tarquini touched the kerb at Turn 4 and spun his Civic around, damaging the front splitter of the upgraded car, causing the session to be stopped.

When it resumed, Yvan Muller set the first target time in the Citroën C-Elysée to beat, while Ma Qing Hua’s first lap left him initially vulnerable. Ma was able to improve on his second run, which demoted Lada’s James Thompson into the bottom five who would drop out of Q1, with Stefano D’Aste now 12th in the Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet and seemingly at risk, but the only driver on a lap which looked set to be faster was Campos Racing’s John Filippi, but the Corsican just missed out and only set the 13th fastest time.

In Q2, with just ten minutes and almost two minutes a lap, time was at a premium. Muller again set the first target to aim for, while Campos’ Hugo Valente and ROAL’s Tom Coronel waited a few minutes before setting their times which left the order somewhat unclear for the reversed grid during the early stages.

With Valente, now seemingly at home in the dry, going fourth fastest, and Coronel also setting a time that was good enough to ensure he’d make the top ten, it was Münnich’s Stefano D’Aste and Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Mehdi Bennani who missed out, qualifying 12th and 11th, while Zengő Motorsport’s Norbert Michelisz achieved the best result possible outside of an overall pole at his home race by qualifying tenth, which will give the Hungarian pole position for race two.

In the one lap shootout, a logistical problem in turning around the car in time meant Ma Qing Hua was unable to get out to set his lap, leaving Campos Racing’s Hugo Valente to go out first who set a fast time of 1:49.081.

Valente’s time was unable to be beaten by either Citroën of Sébastien Loeb or José Maríá López, but Muller was able to go faster by two-tenths of a second to take his first pole position since Spa-Francorchamps last year, ending López’s five race pole position run.

Hugo Valente qualifies second and grabs the four points for the position, but is carrying a five-place grid penalty for ignoring the yellow flags in first practice which will promote López to second, Loeb to third, Ma Qing Hua to fourth and Honda’s Tiago Monteiro to fifth for tomorrow’s first race at 13:30 CET.