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|
|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||BRC Racing Team||1:53.088||+ 0.444|
|5.||Benjamin Lessennes||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||Mulsanne SRL||1:54.476||+ 1.832|
|19.||Aurélien Comte||DG Sport Compétition||1:54.573||+ 1.929|
|20.||Gianni Morbidelli||Mulsanne SRL||1:54.596||+ 1.952|
|21.||Attila Tassi||KCMG||1:54.749||+ 2.105|
|22.||Pepe Oriola||Team OSCARO by Campos Racing||1:54.900||+ 2.256|
|23.||Aurélien Panis||Comtoyou Racing||1:55.017||+ 2.373|
|24.||Frédéric Vervisch||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||Comtoyou Racing||1:55.524||+ 2.880|
|27.||Zsolt Dávid Szabó||Zengõ Motorsport||1:55.703||+ 3.059|
- 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