Menu Takes Pole in WTCC Qualifying in Sonoma
Alain Menu took the top spot in qualifying on Saturday at the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) at the raceway in Sonoma.
Menu (Chevrolet) acquired the pole position for Sunday's 13-lap sprint race on the last lap, turning the 12-turn, 2.50-mile circuit in 1 minute, 45.232 seconds. SEAT Leon's Gabriele Tarquini was second (1:45.468) and Chevrolet's Yvan Muller third (1:45.539). Muller entered the weekend as the WTCC points leader and is seeking his third consecutive championship and fourth in five years.
This marks the first-ever visit of the WTCC to the United States; the series races in such exotic locales as Italy, Japan, China, Macau and Brazil. There will be two 13-lap main events on Sunday, the first one beginning at 12:20 p.m. It is Menu's fourth pole of the season.
"I was not too happy with my lap in Q1," Menu said. "I made a mistake and we changed the car a tiny bit for Q2. My first lap was a good lap (in Q2) and we were fastest but Gabriele (Tarquini) went two tenths faster. I wasn't sure if I could improve but that lap was a very good lap. It was clean, which is important here."
Tarquini was not disappointed with his second-place effort.
"The car was good and this exciting track is fantastic," Tarquini said. "I do not think starting second is a big disadvantage here, to be honest."
In other racing on Saturday, Norway's Pal Varhaug took the victory in the 21-lap feature for the Auto GP Championship, and Alex Popow (Venezuela) won the 30-minute main event for the Maserati Trofeo World Series. Popular actor Patrick Dempsey ("Grey's Anatomy") was sixth in the Maserati event. Brandon Kraus (Honda) took the checkers in the United States Touring Car Championship feature.
There will be six main events on Sunday with tickets available at the gate. Children 12 and under are admitted free and parking is free. For more information, visit racesonoma.com/wtcc.