Photo: WTCC Media

José Maríá López claims pole at the Nürburgring Nordschleife

2014 WTCC champion José María López will start from pole position at the Nürburgring Nordschliefe, setting a time of 8:37.327 to go 1.2 seconds faster than his closest competitor, that of Campos Racing’s Hugo Valente, with López’s Citroën team-mate Sébastien Loeb third.

In the special format one-hour qualifying session, it came down to three runs for all cars at the 25km Nordschleife, with López the fastest each time in each group, improving his pole position time each time.

The Argentinian’s first lap was 8:41.462, which he brought down to a 8:37.716 on his second run, before the 8:32.327 and now first WTCC pole position lap record at the Nürburgring.

The Citroëns didn’t have it all their own way as they were troubled by the independent entries of Campos Racing and Zengő Motorsport, with Valente going second fastest on his final run in the Campos Chevrolet, and with Norbert Michelisz fourth in the Zengő Honda, breaking up any chance of a Citroën top five lock-out.

Lada had a troubled session however, with Jaap van Lagen returning to the pits with an electronics problem and not setting a time, while team-mate Rob Huff stopped out on track after his first lap, meaning the Russian cars qualified 17th and 13th respectively.

In the final stages, attention turned towards the race two pole position which is awarded to the driver who qualifies tenth. Campos’ John Filippi held the spot for much of the session, but was dropped with a few minutes to go by ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Chilton, before the British driver was quickly displaced by his own team-mate Tom Coronel who went ninth quickest, dropping Chilton to tenth and effectively promoting Honda’s Tiago Monteiro to pole for race two.

Sabine Schmitz, making her WTCC debut this weekend, struggled for pace in the Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet and qualified 15th, 12 seconds down on López’s pole time.

The first race of the WTCC takes place at 11:15 CET on Saturday, with a 75km three lap race, with a short turnaround before race two.