Norbert Michelisz has claimed back-to-back qualifying honours on home soil and will start the final race at the FIA WTCR’s round at the Hungaroring from pole position ahead of BRC Racing teammate Gabriele Tarquini.
The crowd favourite broke the Hungaroring’s all-time lap record for a TCR-specification car during Q2, with his 1:52.176 effort eclipsing his previous lap record posted during Friday practice.
The three-part qualifying format threw up a number of the surprises, with the biggest being the elimination of 2017 WTCC title-winner Thed Björk. Officials were taking a tough stance on track limits violations, and the Swede found his first timed lap excluded. His second attempt was only good enough to place him 20th-quickest overall, with the fastest twelve runners progressing into Q2.
Michelisz threw down the gauntlet during Q2, smashing his lap record and guaranteeing he would be the final runner on track during the one-lap Q3 shootout for pole position.
With the 10-minute Q2 session and a near two-minute lap-time around the twisty 4.4-kilometre circuit, the dozen drivers in the session really only had one shot at a flying lap to try and make it into the top-five Q3 shootout.
Local wildcard entry Attila Tassi saw his first flying lap deleted when he exceeded track limits in his KCMG Honda. The 18-year-old was able to return to the pits and attempt one more run, crossing the start/finish line to commence his flying lap with just seconds to spare and posted the ninth-fastest time. With countryman and fellow wildcard Dániel Nagy in tenth place, it looked like the reversed-grid Race 2 would be an all-Hungarian affair on the front row.
That would later turn out not to be the case when Tassi’s times were excluded altogether when it later emerged he had missed a call to the weighbridge in his attempt to scramble back for a second lap. That promoted Rob Huff to tenth-fastest, giving the Briton pole position for Race 2 in his Sébastien Loeb Racing VW Golf GTI.
There were further dramas in the top-five shootout. Having driven outstandingly to get into Q3, a miscue by the Boutsen Ginion Racing team meant that Benjamin Lessennes was black-flagged for failing to leave the pits on time to start his flying lap.
The two Münnich Motorsport Hondas of Race 1 winner Yann Ehrlacher and Esteban Guerrieri were next out on track, however a mistake from the former guaranteed he would qualify fourth-fastest. Guerrieri lapped half-a-second quicker.
That left the two BRC Hyundais of championship leader Gabriele Tarquini and Michelisz to battle for top qualifying honours. Tarquini had the edge in the first sector, but was shaded by Michelisz in Sector 2 before the local star blew his more experienced teammate away with a superb last sector to claim pole.
The second race is scheduled for 15:30 CET, with Race 3 at 16:55 CET (GMT +2).
|2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup Race of Hungary – Races 2 & 3 Final Qualifying Results|
|1.||Norbert Michelisz||BRC Racing Team||1:52.365|
|2.||Gabriele Tarquini||BRC Racing Team||1:52.807||+ 0.442|
|3.||Esteban Guerrieri||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||1:53.023||+ 0.658|
|4.||Yann Ehrlacher||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||1:53.366||+ 1.001|
|5.||Benjamin Lessennes||Boutsen Ginion Racing||no time|
|6.||Yvan Muller||MRacing – YMR||1:53.225||+ 1.049|
|7.||James Thompson||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||1:53.415||+ 1.239|
|8.||Mehdi Bennani||Sébastien Loeb Racing||1:53.610||+ 1.434|
|9.||Dániel Nagy||M1RA||1:53.800||+ 1.624|
|10.||Rob Huff||Sébastien Loeb Racing||1:53.801||+ 1.625|
|11.||Norbert Nagy||Zengõ Motorsport||1:53.805||+ 1.629|
|12.||Zsolt Dávid Szabó||Zengõ Motorsport||1:53.854||+ 1.074|
|13.||John Filippi||Team OSCARO by Campos Racing||1:53.907||+ 1.127|
|14.||Jean-Karl Vernay||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||1:53.981||+ 1.201|
|15.||Nathanaël Berthon||Comtoyou Racing||1:54.229||+ 1.449|
|16.||Aurélien Comte||DG Sport Compétition||1:54.254||+ 1.474|
|17.||Pepe Oriola||Team OSCARO by Campos Racing||1:54.271||+ 1.491|
|18.||Thed Björk||MRacing – YMR||1:54.562||+ 1.782|
|19.||Gordon Shedden||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||1:54.610||+ 1.830|
|20.||Tom Coronel||Boutsen Ginion Racing||1:54.661||+ 1.881|
|21.||Mat’o Homola||DG Sport Compétition||1:54.795||+ 2.015|
|22.||Aurélien Panis||Comtoyou Racing||1:54.802||+ 2.022|
|23.||Gianni Morbidelli||Mulsanne SRL||1:55.024||+ 2.244|
|24.||Frédéric Vervisch||Audi Sport Team Comtoyou||1:55.233||+ 2.453|
|25.||Denis Dupont||Comtoyou Racing||1:55.994||+ 3.214|
|EXC.||Fabrizio Giovanardi||Mulsanne SRL||excluded||+ 1.832|
|EXC.||Attila Tassi||KCMG||excluded||+ 2.105|
* Denotes gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:52.780 posted by Yvan Muller
** Denotes gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:52.176 posted by Norbert Michelisz
- Benjamin Lessennes – who provisionally qualified 5th-fastest – will serve a three-place grid penalty for Race 2 for leaving the pit lane too late to make his allotted Q3 shootout lap.
- Attila Tassi – who provisionally qualified 10th-fastest – had his Q2 qualifying times excluded for crossing the finish line twice. All of his qualifying times were excluded for failing to visit the weighbridge as instructed.
- Fabrizio Giovanardi – who provisionally qualified 16th-fastest – had his qualifying times excluded for failing to visit the weighbridge as instructed.
Image via FIA WTCR Media