Tom Chilton Takes First WTCC Pole in Sonoma
Tom Chilton grabbed his maiden pole position in the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) in Sonoma on Saturday, beating out teammate Yvan Muller by just one-tenth of a second to snag the top spot in the very last lap of qualifying.
Chilton (Chevrolet) acquired the pole position for Sunday's sprint race on the last lap, turning the 12-turn, 2.50-mile circuit in 1 minute, 45.583 seconds.
"It's not easy beating Yvan - I think everyone knows that he'll be a four-time World Champion this year - but it's fantastic to get my first pole position in World Touring Cars," said Chilton, who posted a best finish of 12th in Sonoma last year. "I really love this track. It was quite a scary lap, I could have come off at least three times but I just hung it all together and it was very enjoyable to drive and a great car."
Muller, however, took another step toward securing the 2013 Drivers' Championship when he qualified in second place (1:45.708). The Frenchman has a mathematical opportunity to take his fourth WTCC crown tomorrow, while Honda could also wrap up the Manufacturers' title.
"I'm disappointed that I'm not on pole position, but I'm pleased that my run has been ended by Tom," said Muller. "He did a perfect lap and he's been fast all weekend and I just couldn't catch him. I thought my first run in Q2 was enough for pole because there was a big gap; I still pushed on the second attempt but I had a big understeer at the first corner and lost one or two tenths."
Honda's Tiago Monteiro (1:46.240) will start Race 1 from third on the grid, alongside the Chevrolet of Pepe Oriola (1:46.266). Alex MacDowall of bamboo-engineering qualified fifth (1:46.411), and best of the Yokohama Trophy competitors, ahead of his teammate James Nash (1:46.565). Gabriele Tarquini (Honda) will start from pole position of the top-ten reverse grid for the second race.
In other racing on Saturday, Brad McClure (San Jose, Touring Car) and VJ Mirzayan (Fresno, GT) claimed victories in the U.S. Touring Car Main event, while Steve Miller (Platinum), Jason Godfrey (Gold) and John Trefethen (Silver) took the checkers in the Pirelli GT3 Porsche Cup feature.
Action continues on Sunday with FIA WTCC Races #1 and #2 scheduled to take the green flag at 11:25 a.m. and 2:20 p.m., respectively. CBS Sports Network will broadcast both 50-minute sprint races at 2 p.m. (Pacific Time) on Sunday, with a repeat airing scheduled at 10 p.m. Pacific Time.
There will also be main events in the Porsche GT3 Porsche Cup Series and U.S. Touring Car Championship. Tickets are available at the gate for $40; children 12 and under are free and parking is free. Visit www.racesonoma.com/wtcc for details or call 800-870-7223 (RACE).