Norbert Michelisz delighted a patriotic crowd at the Hungaroring by claiming pole position for the opening FIA World Touring Car Cup race at his home event.

The Hungarian driver scythed his BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR around the twisty circuit to secure the prime starting position for the afternoon’s race, edging our Münnich Motorsport Honda driver Esteban Guerrieri by barely a quarter of a second.

A two-time winner here during his World Touring Car Championship career, Michelisz was feted by the blaring of horns every time he passed the fans in the grandstands on the start/finish straight.

“It’s only Saturday, but the atmosphere is amazing,” said a delighted Michelisz. “To come so early and support me like this is amazing. I had clean laps and now I am hoping for a fantastic start.”

The second row of the grid is an all-Hyundai affair, with reigning WTCC title-winner Thed Björk lining up in third place ahead of Michelisz’s teammate Gabriele Tarquini, the current FIA WTCR points leader.

Björk managed hit a tyre stack at the chicane and lost his front right wheel cover in the incident, but Tarquini was unable to capitalise on the Swede’s error and improve his own lap time.

Teenage driver Benjamin Lessennes impressed as he continued his ‘super sub’ duties for the still unwell Tiago Monteiro, putting his Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda fifth-fastest. The Belgian, however, will serve a five-place grid penalty for a driving infringement in Free Practice 2.

The first four rows were claimed by Hyundai and Honda drivers. Sixth and seventh positions were a family affair, with Münnich Motorsport Honda driver Yann Ehrlacher outqualifying the Hyundai driven by his uncle Yvan Muller.

Also impressing the parochial fans was local driver Dániel Nagy, who was given a wildcard entry in a M1RA-run Hyundai i30. The former WTCC racer showed good practice speed and carried this into qualifying where he was eighth-fastest.

Former WTCC champion Rob Huff was ninth-fastest in his Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI ahead of compatriot James Thompson in the third Münnich Motorsport Honda.

Jean-Karl Vernay, the winner of Race 2 at the Morocco season-opener three weeks’ ago, was the quickest of the Audi contingent in eleventh in a session where the RS 3 LMS appeared to struggle. Aside from Nathanaël Berthon managing thirteenth-fastest, their stablemates were four of the five slowest qualifiers.

The opening 12-lap race starts at 15:25 local time (GMT +2).


2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup Race of Hungary – Race 1 Final Qualifying Results
Driver Team Time Gap
1. Norbert Michelisz BRC Racing Team 1:52.644
2. Esteban Guerrieri ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport 1:52.900 + 0.256
3. Thed Björk MRacing – YMR 1:53.063 + 0.419
4. Gabriele Tarquini it BRC Racing Team 1:53.088 + 0.444
5. Benjamin Lessennes be Boutsen Ginion Racing 1:53.152 + 0.508
6. Yann Ehrlacher ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport 1:53.213 + 0.569
7. Yvan Muller MRacing – YMR 1:53.315 + 0.671
8. Dániel Nagy M1RA 1:53.487 + 0.843
9. Rob Huff Sébastien Loeb Racing 1:53.601 + 0.957
10. James Thompson ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport 1:53.736 + 1.092
11. Jean-Karl Vernay Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team 1:53.900 + 1.256
12. Tom Coronel Boutsen Ginion Racing 1:54.144 + 1.500
13. Nathanaël Berthon Comtoyou Racing 1:54.174 + 1.530
14. Mehdi Bennani Sébastien Loeb Racing 1:54.319 + 1.675
15. Mat’o Homola DG Sport Compétition 1:54.379 + 1.735
16. John Filippi Team OSCARO by Campos Racing 1:54.387 + 1.743
17. Norbert Nagy Zengõ Motorsport 1:54.474 + 1.830
18. Fabrizio Giovanardi it Mulsanne SRL 1:54.476 + 1.832
19. Aurélien Comte DG Sport Compétition 1:54.573 + 1.929
20. Gianni Morbidelli it Mulsanne SRL 1:54.596 + 1.952
21. Attila Tassi KCMG 1:54.749 + 2.105
22. Pepe Oriola es Team OSCARO by Campos Racing 1:54.900 + 2.256
23. Aurélien Panis Comtoyou Racing 1:55.017 + 2.373
24. Frédéric Vervisch be Audi Sport Team Comtoyou 1:55.101 + 2.457
25. Gordon Shedden Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team 1:55.323 + 2.679
26. Denis Dupont be Comtoyou Racing 1:55.524 + 2.880
27. Zsolt Dávid Szabó Zengõ Motorsport 1:55.703 + 3.059

Post-Qualifying Penalties:

  • Benjamin Lessennes – who provisionally qualified 5th-fastest – will serve a five-place grid penalty for a driving infringement in Free Practice 2.

Image via FIA WTCR Media

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.
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