With a last lap of 1:43.901, Menu beat Huff’s 1:43.929 by 28 thousandths of a second.
Tom Coronel posted the third fastest lap of 1:43.968, only a further 39 thousandths adrift, while Yvan Muller (1:44.201) and Gabriele Tarquini (1:44:251) had to settle for fourth and fifth position
Tarquini was the later excluded as his SEAT car was found underweight during the technical checks after the session and the stewards had no other option than disallowing all his lap times from both Q1 and Q2, which will place him at the back of the grid for both races.
The fight for the pole in the Yokohama Trophy was equally exciting with Pepe Oriola (1:44.498) beating Alex MacDowall (1:44.544) in the dying moments.
Team Aon also have reasons to rejoice, as for the first time both Tom Chilton and James Nash made the trip to Q2. And things could have been better for the Ford squad without the accident suffered by Nash in Q1.
In a breathtaking session Alain Menu posted the fastest lap time set so far with only one minute left on the clock. The Swiss driver’s 1:43.793 broke the 1:44 wall and relegated the rest of the field seven tenths behind.
The fastest drivers ousted each other from the top of the time sheet from the very beginning. Muller opened hostilities with a lap of 1:45.880, that was improved by Chilton (1:45.745), MacDowall (1:45.281), Menu (1:45.060) and Chilton again (1:44.639). The Frenchman reacted and jumped on top again with the time of 1:44.482 that was eventually beaten by Menu’s 1:43.793.
Both Ford drivers managed to obtain their first ticket to Q2: Chilton qualified third (1:44.638) and Nash ninth (1:45.137). The latter’s exploit was remarkable as he recovered from a first lap incident; he was collected by Aleksei Dudukalo who had missed the braking point at Turn 1 and had to pit for repairs.
Tarquini won the last spot among the top-twelve, while Norbert Michelisz, Pasquale Di Sabatino and local hero Mehdi Bennani remained out in spite of their efforts.
The following drivers went through to Q2: Menu, Muller, Chilton, Oriola, Huff, Monteiro, Coronel, Engstler, Nash, D’Aste, MacDowall and Tarquini,
In the first lap out of the pits Muller posted a provisional fastest lap of 1:44.248, but this was soon beaten by Coronel’s 1:43.968.
Huff moved the mark forward to 1:43.929 and eventually Menu claimed pole position with a lap of 1:43.901.
On his last attempt Coronel set the fastest time at the end of the first sector, but then spoiled everything with a spin.
For the Yokohama Trophy, Oriola stopped the watch at 1:44.498 and ousted MacDowall by 46 thousandths just before the chequered flag dropped.