Chevrolet's Rob Huff came through a chaotic qualifying session for the World Touring Car finale in Macau to take pole position on an afternoon when the title hopes of SEAT duo Gabriele Tarquini and Yvan Muller were hit after they were involved a freak accident.
Tarquini and Muller both comfortably made it through to the Q2 shoot-out session, but they failed to set a lap time after they got caught up in a crash early on.
Muller appeared to lose control of his SEAT on cement dust that had been laid down at Faraway following a crash involving Stefano D'Aste and James Thompson in Q1. Moments later, and unsighted by the dust, Tarquini smashed into him – before the pair were then hit again by Alain Menu. Muller was taken away from the scene in an ambulance, but gave the thumbs up to indicate he was OK.
All three cars were badly damaged in the crash, although the teams have an extra day for repairs with the first of the two WTCC races not taking place until Sunday.
With the SEAT duo out of action, the way was left open for the other title contender Augusto Farfus to take pole position – but he could not quite manage it. Farfus moved to the top of the time with one minute of qualifying remaining, but Huff went even quicker on his final lap to secure pole position – shortly before Andy Priaulx snatched the second spot.
Huff was overjoyed by the result – especially because the numerous red flags and delays had made it hard for drivers to find their rhythm.
"I've never in my life experienced a qualifying session like this," he said. "The track was dark at the end and you couldn't see anything. It was incredible. I've never done a pole on my third lap before, so it is just fantastic for Chevrolet. I'm really pleased."
Jordi Gene will start behind Farfus in fourth, with Tiago Monteiro fifth and Jorg Muller sixth. Yvan Muller, Tarquini and Menu will fill out the rest of the top 10.