Rob Huff will start Sunday’s feature World Touring Car Championship race at the Hungaroring from pole position after an impressive qualifying display at the tight and twisty circuit.
The former series champion was the quickest provisional qualifier in the opening session, and as such the Münnich Motorsport driver would be the last man out on track in his Citroën C-Elysée during the following one-lap shootout for pole position.
Posting purple sectors throughout, the Englishman clocked a 1:48.264 to eclipse the time of fellow Citroën runner Mehdi Bennani and claim his first pole position in over a year.
Bennani – a winner here in last year’s Opening Race – entered this weekend carrying a five-place grid penalty for his Monza collision with Norbert Michelisz, however that will be applied to tomorrow’s Opening Race where the top-ten qualifiers’ grid positions are reversed. The Moroccan is therefore well-placed to claim a repeat win in the longer Main Race, provided he can stay out of trouble this time.
A stand-out third-fastest in Q3 was Campos Racing’s Esteban Guerrieri. The Argentine – a winner at the season-opening round in Morocco – hustled his Chevrolet RML Cruze around the 4.4-kilometre circuit to beat the Polestar Volvo S60s of Nicky Catsburg and Néstor Girolami into fourth and fifth places on the grid.
Saddled with a maximum 80 kilograms of compensation weight this weekend, none of the Honda Civics made it through to the final phase of qualifying.
While crowd favourite Norbert Michelisz lit up the timesheets with the fastest lap in the preceding rain-hit second practice session, he and his championship-leading teammate Tiago Monteiro fared worse in the dry conditions that greeted them in qualifying.
Michelisz claimed sixth place, while Monteiro was ninth-fastest to give himself a front-row start for Sunday’s Opening Race. The third works Honda of series newcomer Ryo Michigami was slowest of all in Q2 and will start both races from twelfth place, barring grid penalties to any other drivers around him.
Monteiro’s closest championship rival, Thed Björk qualified the third Polestar Volvo S60 eighth-fastest behind fellow Monza race-winner Tom Chilton’s Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën.
Having struggled for one-lap pace in his new surrounds after spending the previous two seasons driving a Chevrolet, Chilton’s teammate John Filippi edged out fellow Frenchman Yann Ehrlacher to claim the tenth-fastest time in Q2 and the reversed-grid pole for the Opening Race.
The biggest casualty of the opening qualifying session was series veteran Tom Coronel, who finished just 0.056 seconds short of scraping into Q2. The Dutch driver reported that his ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet was suffering with terminal understeer.
He will start ahead of the locally-entered Zengõ Motorsport Hondas of Aurélien Panis and Dániel Nagy, who sandwiched American driver Kevin Gleason on the time sheets.
Sunday’s Opening Race, held over 12 laps, will get underway at 12:35pm local time (GMT +2), followed by the 15-lap Main Race at 1:45pm.
|2017 FIA World Touring Car Championship JVC Kenwood Race of Hungary – Final Qualifying Results|
|1.||Rob Huff||Münnich Motorsport Citroën C-Elysée||1:48.264||IND|
|2.||Mehdi Bennani||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||1:48.591||IND|
|3.||Esteban Guerrieri||Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze||1:48.896||IND|
|4.||Nick Catsburg||Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1||1:48.941|
|5.||Néstor Girolami||Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1||1:49.674|
|6.||Norbert Michelisz||Castrol Honda WTCC Team Civic WTCC||1:48.970|
|7.||Tom Chilton||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||1:48.997||IND|
|8.||Thed Björk||Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1||1:49.103|
|9.||Tiago Monteiro||Castrol Honda WTCC Team Civic WTCC||1:49.148|
|10.||John Filippi||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||1:49.608||IND|
|11.||Yann Ehrlacher||RC Motorsport LADA Vesta WTCC||1:49.772||IND|
|12.||Ryo Michigami||Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC||1:50.012|
|13.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze||1:50.502||IND|
|14.||Aurélien Panis||Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC||1:51.029||IND|
|15.||Kevin Gleason||RC Motorsport LADA Vesta WTCC||1:51.372||IND|
|16.||Dániel Nagy||Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC||1:51.457||IND|
* Post-Qualifying Penalties:
Image via FIA WTCC Media