Honda’s Norbert Michelisz has claimed a stunning last-lap pole position for the World Touring Car Championship’s Main Race at the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
The Hungarian’s pole effort – which featured personal-best sector times throughout – was enough to bump Volvo’s Nicky Catsburg from top spot by just six-tenths of a second around the 25-kilometre circuit.
Catsburg, who shattered the unofficial lap record in the day’s earlier practice session, clocked an impressive 8:38.680 on his second flying lap. The Dutch driver returned to the pits to trim out his Volvo’s rear wing in the hope of finding more straight-line speed, but was unable to improve on his final run when he reported a vibration in his S60.
Michelisz had the ascendancy, and hustled his Honda around the circuit to claim pole position with an 8:38.072 time.
Third place on the grid went to Rob Huff, who was provisionally quickest in the one-hour qualifying session after his first timed lap. The Briton encountered a clutch issue on a later run, but he recovered to the pits for assistance. His delay allowed a number of other drivers to move ahead, but he later returned to the track and took his Münnich Motorsport Citroën to the third on the timesheets.
Huff’s late improvement bumped championship leader Tiago Monteiro’s Honda into fourth place ahead of Polestar Volvo’s Thed Björk – the latter seemingly recovered from an engine issue in the day’s earlier practice session.
Tim Chilton was sixth-fastest in his Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroën, two spots ahead of teammate Mehdi Bennani, who narrowly avoided hitting the barriers at Tiergarten on his first flying lap.
The pair sandwiched Tom Coronel in the ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze. The field’s other Chevrolet runner, Esteban Guerrieri, qualified his Campos Racing entry ninth-fastest to give himself a front row start for Saturday’s Opening Race.
Pole position for that race went to the third Volvo of Néstor Girolami, who had a rather untidy session on his first outing at the Nordschleife. The Argentine driver ran off-track early in the session, damaging his front splitter and filling his radiator with grass.
Honda driver Ryo Michigami missed out on securing a reversed-grid pole by 1.2 seconds, narrowly finishing ahead of WTCC rookie Yann Ehrlacher – who is carrying a bruised leg after a heavy crash in his LADA in FP1 – while John Filippi was thirteenth in the third SLR Citroën.
Fears of further tyre issues following a number of puncture in Thursday’s practice session ultimately proved unfounded.
|2017 FIA World Touring Car Championship Race of Germany – Final Qualifying Results|
|1.||Norbert Michelisz||Castrol Honda WTCC Team Civic WTCC||8:38.072|
|2.||Nick Catsburg||Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1||+ 0.608|
|3.||Rob Huff||Münnich Motorsport Citroën C-Elysée||+ 1.469||IND|
|4.||Tiago Monteiro||Castrol Honda WTCC Team Civic WTCC||+ 2.130|
|5.||Thed Björk||Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1||+ 2.924|
|6.||Tom Chilton||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||+ 4.284||IND|
|7.||Mehdi Bennani||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||+ 5.321||IND|
|8.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze||+ 5.461||IND|
|9.||Esteban Guerrieri||Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze||+ 5.617||IND|
|10.||Néstor Girolami||Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1||+ 6.558|
|11.||Ryo Michigami||Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC||+ 7.773|
|12.||Yann Ehrlacher||RC Motorsport LADA Vesta WTCC||+ 7.853||IND|
|13.||John Filippi||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||7.930||IND|
|14.||Kevin Gleason||RC Motorsport LADA Vesta WTCC||+ 9.143||IND|
|15.||Aurélien Panis||Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC||+ 12.949||IND|
|16.||Dániel Nagy||Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC||+ 16.837||IND|
* Post-Qualifying Penalties:
Image via FIA WTCC Media