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|
|1.||Gabriele Tarquini||BRC Racing Team||2:09.312|
|2.||Aurélien Comte||DG Sport Compétition||2:10.326||+ 1.014|
|3.||Pepe Oriola||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||Comtoyou Racing||2:11.199||+ 1.887|
|11.||Nathanaël Berthon||Comtoyou Racing||2:11.230||+ 1.918|
|12.||Fabrizio Giovanardi||Mulsanne SRL||2:11.284||+ 1.972|
|13.||Benjamin Lessennes||Boutsen Ginion Racing||2:11.368||+ 2.056|
|14.||Frédéric Vervisch||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||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|
|DNQ.||John Filippi||Team OSCARO by Campos Racing||no time|
|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|
- 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