WTCC - Morbidelli demoted five places, Muller inherits pole

Gianni Morbidelli lost his pole position for Sunday's Race 1 at the Salzburgring after the Italian was handed a five-place grid penalty because he had improved his Q1 lap time under yellow flag.

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WTCC - Morbidelli demoted five places, Muller inherits pole
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Gianni Morbidelli took a brilliant pole at the Salzburgring, becoming the first driver to break the Citroën domination in the Super Pole exercise this season.

However, Morbidelli retained the five qualifying points for the fastest time in Q3.

His penalty means that Yvan Muller and Sebastien Loeb advance to first and second on the grid for Race 1, with Coronel and Lopez behind them and Chilton and Morbidelli filling the third row.

This was the second time so far this season that Muller inherited pole position following a penalty; it had happened at Le Castellet, where Loeb and Lopez were penalized for a technical infringement.

Morbidelli had earlier taken a brilliant provisional pole, seemingly becoming the first driver to break the Citroën domination in the Super Pole exercise this season - only for the stewards to deny him.

The ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Italian ace, always among the fastest since the beginning of the weekend, made a perfect lap at the wheel of his Chevrolet RML Cruze, stopping the watches at 1.22.137.

Morbidelli had topped the time sheets in Q1 as well, showing excellent form and beating the three C-Elysée cars of Muller, Loeb and López, with Borković in fifth position. The Serbian would then be victim of the fast Turn 9 in his very first lap of Q2. Fortunately, the Campos Racing Chevrolet suffered much less damage than its sister car of Hugo Valente, who heavily crashed in the same corner in the morning.

Q2 saw Muller fastest ahead of the Chevy cars of Coronel and Morbidelli, while the Honda cars seemed to deliberately targeting the last positions in the top ten. The first two rows of the Race 2 grid will be trusted by Tarquini, Michelisz, Bennani and Monteiro.

Franz Engstler took pole again among the TC2 cars, this time preceding John Filippi.

Qualifying 1

Norbert Michelisz led the field after the first timed lap, clocking a 1:23.259 that was faster than Muller’s 1:23.431, Lopez’s 1:23.432 and Morbidelli’s 1:23.474.

The second attempt saw Coronel improving the mark to 1:22.960, ahead of Michelisz (1:23.207), Morbidelli (1:23.283) and Chilton (1:23.354).

The Citroën trio improved further: Muller (1:22.608), Lopez (1:22.619) and Loeb (1:22.722), but Morbidelli jumped on top with a lap of 1:22.535. A few seconds later Lopez spun at Turn 9, but managed to avoid crashing and returned to the pits.

The LADA drivers made a final, desperate attempt to squeeze among the top-twelve, but they failed to make the cut and Tarquini salvaged his 12th position from Thompson by less than two tenths.

Engstler was the fastest man in TC2, ahead of Filippi and Di Sabatino.

The following drivers made it to Q2: Morbidelli, Muller, Lopez, Loeb, Borković, Coronel, Bennani, Monteiro, Michelisz, Chilton, Münnich and Tarquini.

Qualifying 2

The ten-minute session was soon disrupted by a red flag after Borkovic spun and got beached at Turn 9 on his first flying lap.

Just before the neutralization, Morbidelli was able to set a provisional fastest lap of 1:22.281 ahead of Muller (1:22.368), Loeb (1:22.371) and Lopez (1:22.471). Chilton was provisionally lying in fifth position (1:22.596).

When the session resumed, Muller (1:22.085) and Coronel (1:22.168) climbed to first and second, dropping Chilton out of the top five.

The four Honda cars of Monteiro, Bennani, Michelisz and Tarquini did not even try to improve, aiming for filling the two front rows on the top-ten reverse grid for tomorrow’s second race.

Qualifying 3

López and Loeb were the first drivers to take the track. The Argentine’s time (1:22.507) was 0.046 seconds slower that his Q2 lap, while Loeb (1:22.363) improved his own Q2 performance by eight thousandths.

Morbidelli came third, and in the first two sectors laid the foundations for a remarkable pole position (1:22.137). Coronel (1:22.432) managed to demote Lopez by one place.

The last one to qualify, Muller was clocked at 1:22.186, that was not enough to beat Morbidelli but the Italian's subsequent grid penalty promoted Muller into pole.

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