The Hyundai runners proved to be the class of the FIA World Touring Car Cup field once again, with Gabriele Tarquini claiming pole position for the opening race at the Slovakia Ring ahead of BRC Racing teammate Norbert Michelisz. Championship leader Yvan Muller qualified third-fastest in his YMR Hyundai.

Tarquini’s pole-winning time of 2:09.312 was some two seconds quicker than the session-topping time posted by Yann Ehrlacher in the Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic earlier in the day.

Michelisz finished three-tenths of a second behind, with his 2:09.664 becoming the earlier benchmark effort that only Tarquini was able to beat.

The session was red-flagged early on when John Filippi beached his Campos Racing Cupra in the Turn 6 gravel and was unable to rejoin proceedings.

Filippi’s teammate Pepe Oriola continued his strong mid-season form and, along with the DG Peugeot 308TCR of Aurélien Comte, proved to be the ‘best of the rest’ runners in their ballast-free cars over the 30-minute session.

Esteban Guerrieri was the fastest of the Honda runners in sixth, with he and his teammate Ehrlacher sandwiching The Björk’s Hyundai – the Swede having an automatic back-of-the-grid start for an engine change – followed by the WRT Audi of Jean-Karl Vernay and Tom Coronel’s Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda.

Crowd favourite Mat’o Homola couldn’t rise to the occasion and home soil and qualified eleventh-fastest in his DG Peugeot ahead of a trio of Comtoyou Racing Audis belonging to Aurélien Panis, Denis Dupont and Nathanaël Berthon.

The extra performance ballast carried by the Volkswagens rendered them completely uncompetitive, with regular drivers Rob Huff and Mehdi Bennani only able to outpace local wildcard Andrej Studenič.

The opening race in the Slovakia round takes place on Saturday at 12:00 local time (GMT +2).

2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup Race of Slovakia – Race 1 Final Qualifying Results
Driver Team Time Gap
1. Gabriele Tarquini it BRC Racing Team 2:09.312
2. Aurélien Comte DG Sport Compétition 2:10.326 + 1.014
3. Pepe Oriola es Team OSCARO by Campos Racing 2:10.475 + 1.163
4. Esteban Guerrieri ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport 2:10.487 + 1.175
5. Jean-Karl Vernay Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team 2:10.565 + 1.253
6. Tom Coronel Boutsen Ginion Racing 2:10.752 + 1.440
7. Yann Ehrlacher ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport 2:10.870 + 1.558
8. Mat’o Homola DG Sport Compétition 2:11.030 + 1.718
9. Aurélien Panis Comtoyou Racing 2:11.170 + 1.858
10. Denis Dupont be Comtoyou Racing 2:11.199 + 1.887
11. Nathanaël Berthon Comtoyou Racing 2:11.230 + 1.918
12. Fabrizio Giovanardi it Mulsanne SRL 2:11.284 + 1.972
13. Benjamin Lessennes be Boutsen Ginion Racing 2:11.368 + 2.056
14. Frédéric Vervisch be Audi Sport Team Comtoyou 2:11.414 + 2.102
15. Norbert Nagy Zengõ Motorsport 2:11.514 + 2.202
16. Petr Fulín Fullin Race Academy 2:11.516 + 2.204
17. Gordon Shedden Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team 2:11.646 + 2.334
18. Kevin Ceccon it Mulsanne SRL 2:11.676 + 2.364
19. Zsolt Dávid Szabó Zengõ Motorsport 2:11.808 + 2.496
20. Rob Huff Sébastien Loeb Racing 2:11.843 + 2.531
21. Mehdi Bennani Sébastien Loeb Racing 2:12.366 + 3.054
22. Andrej Studenič Brutal Fish Racing 2:13.529 + 4.217
Outside 107% Team Time Gap
DNQ. John Filippi Team OSCARO by Campos Racing no time
Disqualified Team Time Gap
EXC. Norbert Michelisz BRC Racing Team 2:09.664 + 0.352
EXC. Yvan Muller MRacing – YMR 2:10.281 + 0.969
EXC. Thed Björk MRacing – YMR 2:10.552 + 1.240

Post-Qualifying Penalties:

  • Norbert Michelisz – who was provisionally classified 2nd fastest – was excluded from qualifying for failing post-scrutineering checks (excessive boost pressure)
  • Yvan Muller – who was provisionally classified 3rd-fastest – was excluded from qualifying for failing post-scrutineering checks (excessive boost pressure)
  • Thed Björk – who was provisionally classified 7th-fastest – was excluded from qualifying for failing post-scrutineering checks (excessive boost pressure)
  • Benjamin Lessenes – who was provisionally 13th-fastest – was issued a 10-place grid penalty for receiving his third reprimand of the season

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.